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. BOMBO ©

    This behavior is not new. A lot of these captains just want to drive a boat around. They don't want to be responsible for other people's lives. From the Wikipedia article on the Oceanos sinking in 1991:

    "Captain Yiannis Avranas was accused by the passengers of leaving hundreds behind with no one other than the ship's onboard entertainers to help them evacuate. Avranas claimed that he left the ship first in order to arrange for a rescue effort, and then supervised the rescue effort from a helicopter. Avranas stated, "When I give the order abandon ship, it doesn't matter what time I leave. Abandon is for everybody. If some people want to stay, they can stay." "

    Well, apparently no abandon order was given, because:

    "Realizing the fate of the ship, the crew fled in panic, neglecting to close the lower deck portholes, which is standard policy during emergency procedures. No alarm was raised. Passengers remained ignorant of the events taking place until they themselves witnessed the first signs of flooding in the lower decks. At this stage, eyewitness accounts reveal that many of the crew, including Captain Avranas, were already packed and ready to depart, seemingly unconcerned with the safety of the passengers."

    Buyer beware. If you book a cruise, keep in mind that these Captains and crew often are out of their element if they need to deal with an actual emergency.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. izandro

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

    January 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    I read too quickly and was unfair to De Falco in my comments above.
    I apologize profusely to Sig. De Falco.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. John

    Where is Captain Sully Sullenberger when you need him most? He could sure teach this guy a thing or two. What a disgrace.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    When was he last drug tested? And was he tested for alcohol when he got on shore?

    Only thing that can explain why he was talking like that in contradictory, non-sensical sentences. That or he is just a complete idiot, and I can't believe he got a job as a captain of a cruise ship.

    Wow. major embarrassment for carnival cruise lines (the owner of Costa Cruise Lines.)

    January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lauren

    That is a really powerful transcript. You can feel the port authority guy's frustration that he is dealing with an idiot and a coward. You can tell he wants to take him by the scruff and force him back on board. It's sad...

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

    This captain should be taken and made to walk the plank, good grief what an imbecile! This guy couldn't captain a rowboat with any clarity..

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

      Given the current state of his ship, I'd say keelhauling would be more appropriate.

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

    Unbelievable !! How did this man become qualified to be in charge of a ship where thousands depended on his actions. The qualifications of ALL officers on board ALL Carnival ships must be examined.

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

      Believe it or not, he was apparently the safety officer before being promoted to captain.

      January 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Damian, Dallas TX

    Let's not go overboard with the cruise ship fear people. It's the safest form of travel including planes and trains. Odds of being killed on a cruise ship: 1 in 14 million. Odds of dying on a plane: 1 in 11 million. Odds of dying on a train: 1 in 9 million. Odds of dying in a car crash: 1 in 18000. Are you all going to stop driving now? Idiots.

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

      Captain Schettino, step away from the keyboard !

      January 17, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Rat

      this guy sounds like he runs a tour agency that specializes in cruises!!! Anyway, it seems like 99% of the comments are on Schettino's chararcter, with a handful of comments on cruise line management practices. Not sure I saw a mass fear of cruise tours upwelling here!

      January 17, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      Damian is right. Give the hysterics a rest ladies.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Harry Merkin

    Wait,,,,, lets get to the real problem,,,, "who in gods name hired this dumba$$"" that is the one that should be put on trial for murder.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ed

    This is amazing.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. Barney

    Panick stricken. He freaked. Coward.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kroz

    The human element is why I don't trust normally safe technologies such as nuclear power plants. The human element always finds a way to screw things up.

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

    This cowardly captain has blood on his hands.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. TJ

    I'll never go on a cruise. Not worth it. Can't trust the cruise line or the people operating it. I'm perfectly fine on the beach. Tragic.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
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