January 17th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it'

Recordings between the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship and the Livorno Port Authority, which is part of the Coastal Guards, have given new insight into what happened on the ship when it hit rocks Friday night just off Italy's western coast.

A total of 23 people remain missing following the wreck, which led to 11 deaths, Italian officials said Tuesday. Capt. Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, according to an Italian prosecutor.

Questions abound for captain of doomed cruise ship

Below are several transcripts of recordings between authorities and the captain published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and translated by CNN's Hada Messia. The first calls came in right after midnight.

Livorno Port Authorities: "Concordia, we ask you if all is OK there."

Concordia: "All is well."

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Port authority: "Concordia, We ask you if all is well there."

Concordia: "All is well. It is only a technical failure."

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Port authority: "How many people are on board?"

Schettino: "Two-three hundred"

Port authority: "How come so few people? Are you on board?’

Schettino: "No, I’m not on board because the ship is keeling. We’ve abandoned it."

Port authority: "What? You’ve abandoned the ship?"

Schettino: "No. What abandon? I’m here."

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Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Captain. This is De Falco from Livorno."

Schettino: "Commandant, I’ve also alerted the company… I’m being told that there are still passengers on board, apparently they are about one hundred… but I repeat…"

De Falco: "Captain. You are not able to tell me an exact figure? About a hundred people, it seems?

Schettino: "Commandant, I am not able to give you an exact figure because let me explain... while we were evacuating the last passengers… now we are all here with all the officers…"

De Falco: "Where are you? On the lifeboats? All the officers?"

Schettino: "Yes, we are with the second commander…"

De Falco: "Forgive me, but before you were only with a sailor. If the officers managed to get down, it means that they could still move."

Schettino: "Yes...in fact...

De Falco: "Then why don’t they get back on board? To monitor the operation and then they can tell us. Thank you."

Schettino: "No it is not possible…"

De Falco: "Send them on board. Send one person on board to coordinate..."

Schettino: "But I am doing the coordination."

De Falco: "I’m giving you an order captain. You need to send someone on board."

Schettino: "We are going on board to coordinate."

De Falco: "Exactly. You need to get on board to coordinate the evacuation. Is that clear?!"

Schettino:  "But we can’t get on board now…the ship is now…(hard to understand)..."

De Falco: "Why did you tell them to get down?"

Schettino: "What do you mean get down? We abandoned the ship…the ship turned ..."

De Falco: "...and with one hundred people on board you abandon the ship? (expletive)"

Schettino: "I did not abandon any ship with 100 people…the ship (hard to understand)...we were catapulted into the water..."

De Falco: We’ll see later what happened. OK? Now tell me everything that takes place. Everything. Get under with the lifeboat (not very clear at this point). Don’t move. Clear?"

Schettino: "Commandant..we are here…we are here..."

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Port authority: "You must return on board. Climb the ladder (rope ladder), return to the fore (stem) and coordinate the work."

Schettino does not reply

Port authority: "You must tell us how many people are on board, how many women, how many children. You have to coordinate the rescue operation. Commander, this is an order. Now I’m in charge, you have abandoned ship and now you are going to go to the stem and coordinate the work. There are already dead bodies."

Schettino: "How many?"

Port authority: "You should be the one telling me this…What do you want to do? Do you want to go home?...Now go back on the stem and tell me what to do.."

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Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Listen, this is De Falco from Livorno. Am I speaking with the captain?"

Schettino: "Yes."

Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Tell me your name."

Schettino: "This is Captain Schettino, commandant."

De Falco: "Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now, you have to go with your lifeboat and go under the boat stem on the straight side, there is a ladder there."

De Falco: "Get on board on the ship and tell me, you tell me how many people there are."

De Falco: "Clear? I’m recording this conversation, Captain Schettino."

Schettino: "Well then commandant, I need to tell you something."

De Falco: "Speak loudly."

Schettino: "The ship now…I’m here in front of it..."

De Falco: "Captain, speak loudly."

Schettino: "Commandant, at this moment the ship is tilted."

De Falco: "I understand. Listen. There are people who are coming down the stem ladder. You must take that ladder in the opposite direction. Get on board the ship and you tell me how many people are on board, and what do they have. Clear? You tell me if there are children, women, people with special needs. And you tell me how many there are of each category..."

De Falco: "Is that clear?"

De Falco: "Look Schettino, you might have been saved from the sea, but I will make sure you go through a very rough time…I will make sure you go through a lot of trouble. Get on board, damn it."

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Schettino: "Commandant, please…"

Port authority: "No...please. No, you get on board. Assure me that you are getting on board."

Schettino: (Hard to understand) "I’m here with the rescuers. I’m here. I’ve not gone anywhere. I’m here."

Port authority: "What are you doing captain?"

Schettino: "I’m here coordinating the rescue."

Port authority: (Speaks over captain): "What are you coordinating there? Go on board and coordinate from there the rescue operation. Are you refusing?"

Schettino: "No, no, I’m not refusing."

Port authority: "You are refusing to go on board? And why are you not going on board?"

Schettino: "I am going because now there is the other motorboat (Lancia) that has stopped now."

Port authority: "You go on board. It is an order. You cannot make any other evaluations. You have declared abandoning ship. Now I’m in charge. You get on board. Is it clear?"

Schettino:  "Commandant..."

Port authority over captain: "Are you not listening to me.."

Schettino speaks over Port authority: "I’m going..."

Schettino: "Call me immediately when you get on board. Our rescue officer is there."

Schettino:  "Where is your rescue officer?"

Port authority: "My rescue officer is at the stem…Go …(can hear captain saying OK)…There are already bodies, Schettino."

Schettino: "How many dead bodies are there?"

Port authority: "I don’t know. I know of one. I’ve heard of one. You are the one to tell me how many there are. Christ!"

Schettino:  "Are you aware that it is dark here and we cannot see anything?"

Port authority: "So? Do you want to go home Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Climb the ladder and get on the stem."

Port authority: "...and tell me what can be done, how many people are there, what do they need. Now."

Schettino: "Commandant, we are with the second in command…"

Port authority: "Then both of you climb up. What is his name?"

Schettino: "Dimitris Christidis."

Port authority: "You are your guard. Go on board, now!"

Schettino: "Commandant… I want to go on board, it is just that the other lifeboat here…there are other rescue operators... it has stopped and it is stuck there... now I’ve called other rescue operators..."

Port authority: "It is one hour that you are telling me this. You go on board. On b.o.a.r.d (says the word slowly almost spelling it out). And you immediately tell me how many people there are"

Schettino:  "OK."

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Filed under: Italy • Travel
soundoff (612 Responses)
  1. JayB12

    This reminds me of an episode on Seinfeld when George Castanza push everyone aside in his quick dash out the door after a small fire in a trash can. How embarrassing. The captain will have to live with this.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. csam18

    So you're saying that if YOU were that captain, you would've acted the same way? A spineless coward? Good to know. Please don't bother driving even a car with passengers in it.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. JMysterio

    I'm your captain, I'm your captain, tho I'm feelin' mighty sick....

    January 18, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tina

    It simply sounds like Captain Schettino turned chickensht. And the Coast Guard Commandant was probably loosing his mind thinking he's dealing with a freakin' idiot.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. ThePurser

    This Captain's day will come (in court) and maybe we will better understand his decision making process. As for the chaos during "abandon ship" as the person in charge of mustering passengers, I wonder how much chaos was a result of language barriers? This is a nightmare scenario if the crew and passengers cannot communicate. God bless thier souls...

    January 18, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. JMysterio

    How do you say 'yellow' in Italian?

    January 18, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Giallo, although now just say Schettino

      January 18, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Water Rat

    Life is now all about credentials. You have to have the right credentials to get a job (i.e. college degree, law degree, MBA, professional license, etc.) but none of these demonstrate character. Just look at this "Captain." On paper, his qualifications were probably superb yet his character is weaker than soggy paper.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      Sort of agree. But how do you propose to determine character prior to putting the applicant in a perilous situation?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Master

      Water Rat is right. When the Standards for Training , Certification and Watchkeeping came out in 1995, it gave the shipping companies and cruise lines the ability to choose between experienced personnel who had the right paperwork and inexperienced clowns who could, with a bogus reference, pass an examination and attend two weeks of classes for the same required certifcations.

      One group is well-experienced and commanded a decent salary, the other is willing to work for a dollar a day plus fish heads and rice.

      Guess which group will get all the jobs, from ordinary seaman to master?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Adam

    The crew did the same thing on the Andrea Doria, left a sizable number of passengers stuck on a burning ship while the Italian crew escaped in lifeboats. ¡Pura tradición italiana!

    January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Water Rat

      Not true at all. The Captain and the senior officers were the last off the ship.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • penta

      And, by the way, you're writing in Spanish...

      January 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JOE

    Wasn't that the same thing GWB did? He abandoned ship and left the current administration with the task of cleaning up all the mess he spilled for eight years? Now, if only we could round him up at Crawford Ranch. Hey George, get back here and clean up the mess you created.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Akira

    This Schettino clown is a disgrace, he's the freakin' *captain*! He shouldn't have to be told by a Coast Guard officer that he needs to get back to his ship and help with the evacuations.He shirked his responsibilities to his ship, crew, and passengers just so he could save his own skin. Hopefully some justice will come of this for the passengers, this so-called captain has a lot of explaining to do to them.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. Monique Manna

    This is something straight out of a movie...unbeleivable!

    January 18, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Akira

      The Three Stooges?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Yes, The Three Stooges.

      I can just see the Captain turning to the crew and yelling "hey fellahs......let's get outa here!"

      January 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snowdogg

    Sounds like a bad Italian version of "Who's on first?" Was the ship's Captain stoned?

    January 18, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Compare him to Captain Sullenberger. He walked the ship twice, and coordinated with a passenger manifest, in his shirtsleeves, in 20 degree F weather. He stood tall and looked good doing it, too. When he flew as captain after that, he got applause from the passengers just for being on his ship.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. Frank

    As a grown man, I am ashamed that this vile thing Schettino calls himself a man. How someone, least of all the captain of a ship, can stand on a lifeboat and watch as his ship sinks with all those people still on board and at the same time whining and lying to the rescuers over the radio is utterly unbelievable. I understand being scared but many men have been scared and still done their duty. As someone whom has served in the US military and been in combat, I understand fear. But being a grown man and a captain, you are suppose to lead even if your scared. Cowards cost lives and it did this time. I hope that his name goes down in history and when ever someone thinks of a coward, Schettino is what they remember.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Anne

    Poor soul, he shouldn't be a Captain, he is not brave, is not responsible, forgot all his duties and responsabilities, as he was terrified and busy trying to safe his own life. Sad that several lifes were lost and so close to the shore...

    January 18, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Just Me

      Sorry for using your post Anne but this seems to be the only way for me to post The captain made a very serious error and was an idiot for all that he did before, during and after the wreck. He caused so much damage, with the loss of life of so many (one is too many) and all the suffering he caused. That I can't disagree with. I believe he became overwhelmed at what was occurring and should have delegated some of his responsibilities to crew members (like "1st mate, send out a distress signal ") Then he went into SHOCK and was pretty much useless, he was in survival mode. You can see that in the transcript. He only went back to the ship after he was told by he port authority that the safety officer was on-board. So I do have some sympathy for the man because he is human and I sure would not have to have been in his shoes. For those of you so ready to hang the Captain please have your Oxytocin levels checked.

      January 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
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