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. GODis

    Beam him to the brig.

    Kirk out.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James

    Jesus wept. This guy does not even deserve to be the janitor on a ship, forget being a captain.

    Its not like the ship was sinking in arctic waters which are a mile deep. Its the frigging Mediterranean with shallow waters.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greg

    What does it take to be the captain of a Cruise ship? The Right Stuff is obviously not needed.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex Povolotski

      Read my reply.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GODis

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

    Concordia: "All is well."

    Somehow I think these words will be coming back to haunt us many times. Just saying.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ge

    I have read and heard three different translations of this radio conversation. The first posted here on CNN sounded fake (much added to make the captain seem worse than he is (if that is possible). The second on ABC radio news sounded like more of an exact correct translation as much as that is possible. And now this one which also seems more realistic. Be glad when it settles down and we can get a very accurate translation. Would hate to be this captain. Reminds me of Ismay.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • drossi79

      I'm italian and i listened the original audio. This one is pretty correct, nothing missed. They just translated the italian swears in a more politely way.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marco

      I am Italian too and I can confirm, the only change in the translation is that the "f word" is actually translated into "damn it"... for the rest it is pretty much a fair translation and nice piece of journalism from CNN

      January 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Obadiah Bumbley

    This appears to be a repeat of the 'Oceanos' disaster only worse because there is loss of life. The 'Oceanos' captain ordered an abandon ship and then immediately left with his family and senior crew. Many passengers were stranded because the extreme list made the lifeboats inoperable. It was only thanks to the ship's band who aided remaining passengers aboard rescue helicopter lifts. I heard that Captain went on to pilot another vessle, I certainly hope that doesn't happen in this case.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jedo

    "It is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another " – Lucretius

    January 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sp2011

    People are quick to judge but in the chaos with the ship suddenly tilted he might have fallen aboard compounding his problem getting back on board and coordinating rescue from aboard. We will find out in due course since this is still early stages.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jack Lewis

    They can't all be Sully.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Daniele from Italy

    People living outside of Italy can not really understand. Schettino is from Naples and he behaves unfortunately like the vast majority (not everyone) of people from that area. Making excuses, denying the facts..it's very typical of the lower class of that city. What really baffles me is how well respected Costa cruise line could allow this garbage man to become a Commander..this fact alone is enough to ban once forever Costa from the list of possible cruises options!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luck

      Stupid brainless racist!

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

      You are a racist. Even more ridiculous, considering that De Falco is from Naples too. Now what do you have to say about people coming from Naples?

      Marco (from Florence)

      January 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max from Italy

      @Marco, Daniele wrote "the lower class of that city" and also "the vast majority (not everyone)".

      As an italian, despite your PC outrage, you know that there is truth in his words.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alex Povolotski

    The captain is apparently scared for his own skin and acts unprofessionally. But you can't blame the captain alone. The second in command is the same story, though he kept silent throughout the conversation. Who I really blame is the company that operates those vessels and it is like that throughout the industry. They cheap out on labor and get the most unqualified personnel from all over the world - Ukraine, Greece, Thailand... you name it. There is a United Nations on board in terms of crew. And the saddest part is that they hire them from countries where for a couple of thousand $$$ you can buy your credentials and diploma without really knowing a thing about sailing.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Liberty Queen

    WOW! What a coward Shettino is!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MARK

    Khm!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cpt Sailor

    No captain should abandon his ship prior to everybody else! If anybody goes on the bottom of the sea, the Captain should be there too!
    I wish he gets the hardest penalty hopefully, noone should ever get away with this! Captains (naval, military, airborne) are the last men of honour at present times and that should be kept this way!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wynsar

    If the situation wasn't so tragic....this reads like a script from the Marx Brothers.....I apololize for laughing out loud when the Port Authority asks the Captain snidely "Do you want to go home"?
    My condolences go to all the families who lost loved ones

    January 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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