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. Robert

    So, the captain was an idiot/drunk/whatever. Why wasn't there someone else on board who could step up and deal with this?

    January 17, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • cw

      He's the captain of the ship.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Of course, the media is milking "the Captain not going down with the ship" theme for everything that it's worth. HE was there on scene, and HE made a judgement call about abondoning the ship for which he shall answer under intense scrutiny. It's taken them days and special crews and equipment to rescue the last couple of people...perhaps the Captain ascertained that he could personally do no more. There are few positions left in this world worth sacrificing your life FOR PRINCIPLE alone...Captain of a luxury liner isn't one of them in my opinion. Different story if he turned his back on someone holding on for dear life, or muscled someone out of a seat on a life boat.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      "It's taken them days and special crews and equipment to rescue the last couple of people..." I should have said that it's taken them days and special crews and equipment to RECOVER the last couple of people.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Sorry Lean but there were still passengers on board and he left the ship, there is no excuse for that.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Nope. Not buying it. The captain was in a lose-lose situation the moment the ship ran aground. If he were lying dead beneath the surface in one of the ship's spaces, it still wouldn't have been enough. If he assessed that he could do nothing else to save lives, and he didn't further endanger anyone by abandoning ship, there's no reason that he should have had to sacrifice himself for unquenchable public blood lust.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • tunafingers

      Lean, you are simply wrong. Don't forget that this vessel traveled out of its desired path under this captains helm. He altered the ship's course. He is responsible for every single event that follows after he altered the course. Read the transcript. He knows he's in a load of trouble. I think in fact he is trying to sneak out of the scene. This is all his blame. He was not catapulted off of the deck. He was running for cover. I'm very close to calling you an idiot for what you posted, but am refraining at this time.

      January 18, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hugh

    Captain first and women and children be damned

    January 17, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      Children first yes. Women are equal now. They've earned the right to die just like the men!

      January 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Johnnie

    Who made this guy Captain. Reminds me of putting the Arabian horse guy in charge at FEMA.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted

      You're doing a helluva job, Brownie!

      January 17, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ernie

    Now there's a concept....the captain on the ship?

    January 17, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. Disgusted

    What is it with Italians? They seem to have no sense of urgency and are incapable of handling emergencies. No wonder that pitiful country is headed down the drain.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Take5

      There are Italians like Schettino and Italians like De Falco, just like all over the world

      January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      I was waiting to see how long it would take someone to make this about "those Italians" and paint a whole group of people with a single broad brush.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Anchorite

      Ah, there we go, I knew it wasn't long before someone turned it into a racial thing. Yeah no American has ever tuned out during a disaster when they should have been doing their job, like Michael Brown during Katrina.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      It varies. But in Italy, it isn't uncommon for sons to live with their mothers well into their thirties or forties, with mom waiting on them hand and foot and suffering abuse in return. You can see a glimmer of the babyish, blame-evading behavior this can produce in the captain's evasive, juvenile answers above.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      The financial crisis is due to unethical bankers, not because they are "Italian."

      January 17, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Debeucci

      Because raising your voice and screaming is the only way to react to an emergency. How American.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Mayor_McCheese

      Well, the coast guard guy was Italian and he definitely had a sense of urgency.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Stefano P

      As an italian citizen you make a good point....but doesnt it feel like every country in the world is developing this kind of mentality? There are people like this captain and there are people like at the port authority who seemed like they wanted to pyhsically beat him down....the question is how does someone like that get a job?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hughjurgan

    De Falco needs to get a raise, he is DA MAN

    January 17, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • oldboldpilot

      Damn right, he's a good egg.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Creep

    I think I am missing something in this sad story...Why is De Falco insisting on getting that Captain back to the ship, while his main focuse should be on the rescuing people. It's obvious that the captain is a Coward, deal with him later and save people first.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Professor Trollworth

      Because he was board and he was being entertained by badgering the captain.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Shonda

      The reason they wanted him on the ship is to help with the rescue.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • dirkk

      He is getting the captain back on becuase he needs him in the emergency response plan. He needs him to evaluate what is happening so that is why he is insisting he get back on. So it can translate into information they can use and so lives can be saved.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I'm sure that De Falco had already ordered his people to begin rescue operations. But he needed the ranking officer on board to coordinate the rescue. However, the captain had abandoned the ship. At that point he was no long in command. If any of the crew were left on board the most senior of them would effectively be in command. However, it sounds like all the officers had fled with the captain. If a steward was in command he probably would not be too effective. He would not have the knowledge or experience to lead the evacuation. De Falco desperately needed the senior officers back on the boat. Without them he was blind.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Creep

      Makes sense. Thanks

      January 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSense

      De Facto is talking from wherever the Coast Guard is stationed. He needs information on if anyone is hurt (send in rescue helicopter, medical aid), if there is fire (send in water boats).

      It would be like calling 9-11 and saying "I have an emergency" then hanging up and leaving it for the dispatcher to determine if to send the police, ambulance, or fire rescue.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RB

    And we wonder why the country is about to default

    January 17, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Because of unethical bankers and speculators, not because of what country they are from.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      US in July was about to default... Italy at least is in debt with the Italians.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lucretia_Borgia

    This cruise line is a subsidiary of CARNIVAL cruise line. Never been on a cruise but husband was an officer in US Navy; he would have been shot or in Levenworth for behavior such as this.

    Boycott Carnival.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      I'd prefer to wait for actual facts before reaching any decision. It's becoming very clear that the captain is a horse's a ss; it's possible he is the sole cause of this accident. If there is involvement higher up the management chain, however, that will take longer to bring to light. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if the buck stopped with this coward.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Dino Droppings

      Yup, lets put all the carnival workers out of a job,
      because of this captains stupidity.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mr. Reality

    the capt sounds like a complete idiot.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. dougp

    Hate to say it but after dealing with Costa as a customer and briefly as a vendor I'm not surprised by any of this. Passengers don't know how to line up for anything, forget emergencies they turn anything into a mob scene, and staff, both on ship and in their offices, that talked the same kind of babbling double talk like this captain whenever the wa a real problem. Sad sad story.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe D

    Schettino just set the tour boat industry on a path to ruin. Who would dare set foot on a cruise liner knowing just how low the standards are to be a ships captain on a cruise liner. As for Schettino disemboweling would be too kind a punishment.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. SixDegrees

    OMG, what an a ss. They ought to bring back keelhauling, which would be especially fitting in his case right now.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. izandro

    Idiot or drunk? the captain was going towards shore to pick up something/one illegal and then they got grounded.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Professor Trollworth

      He was drunk and he took a whiz on a control panel that controlled the steering. It caused a short circuit and sent the ship off course.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. Alaskan

    Coward.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Professor Trollworth

      I think he was just bored and didn't really feel like going back and helping. Perhaps one of his favorite tv shows was on and he didn't want to miss it.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
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