Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it'
There were 32 people killed in Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.
October 15th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

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

The captain of an Italian cruise ship that wrecked in January, killing 32 people, entered court Monday to hear evidence against him as a dozen survivors looked on.

It was the first time that passengers who made it through the Costa Concordia disaster saw Francesco Schettino face-to-face.

He faces allegations of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, failing to report an accident to the coast guard and destroying a natural habitat, a prosecutor said earlier this year. The ship struck rocks and turned on its side off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

Schettino was released from house arrest in July.

Below are several transcripts of recordings between authorities and the captain published following the disaster and translated by CNN's Hada Messia. They give insight into the mindset of the captain as well as rescuers. 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."

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. chrissy

    And this person (captain) has the audacity to call himself a MAN??? Freakin crybaby, he couldnt captain his way out of a bathtub! They need to nail him with the maximum sentence!

    October 15, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • uniqueu

      I wonder at the spitting and spewing that goes on amongst commenters who have never had their own lives in jeopardy. Only those who have laid their lives on the line for others can speak like that, Chrissy... and frankly, those who do likely would not comment because they have faced the fear of death they had to overcome, to be the hero that you expect everyone to be.

      I agree with others that the response of the crew overall shows that they were poorly trained and not ready for a catastrophe. When so many lives are at stake the training, retraining and professional awareness of what to do in accident scenarios is imperative. This crew didn't act professionally at all, so the company deserves a hefty part of the blame. They should be prepared and know what to do ... and the second in command should have taken over if it is true the Captain was drinking.

      The Captain deserves to be vilified for abandoning his ship, but the Cruise line sounds as though it is lax, allowing the vessel to have gone close to shore before. (The ship is attached to a computer so the line knows where its vessels are, plus the Cruise line knew about the incident before authorities and didn't respond well either. I hope the Captain isn't just a scapegoat or this could happen again)

      October 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. judy

    Wow!!! This man must have never even been on a cruise ship until he became the captain of the one that he sunk. He probably doesnt even drive a car. Where were the crew members partying at the deck that they didn't evden notice that their very shipsmart captain was going to crash them into giligans island with hundreds of passengers on board. This so called captain couldnt pilot a bathtub toy boat. Who was the smart one to give him a huge cruiseship?? He was in over his head even before the ship sunk. No wonder he ran. Its a miracle he didnt keep on swimming home, maybe he didnt know how to swim. Poor guy.

    October 15, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Cruise Ship Captains are usually chosen for their ability to interact with socially conscious passengers and their ability to command others. Great seamanship is not a requisite. The first officer and key crewmen run the ship. Apparently, this ship had a really poor and inexperienced crew. The Captain should have been on the bridge during the risky navigation near the Island 's coast...but? He or the first officer saved many lives by beaching the ship
      after the Hull was breached. The abandoning of the ship was worse than a"Chinese firedrill ".

      October 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Name s kel

    A born coward!

    October 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bayousara

    Umm, how did this guy ever get hired to be captain in the first place?

    October 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    He cut and ran.
    That's the bottom line.
    I don't care that he was a sociable type of guy; he REPEATEDLY had to be told his duty.
    Ultimately, the safety of his passengers rests with him.

    He deserves what he gets.

    October 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Captain Crunch

    How many stories did the captain fall onto his head into a life boat?

    October 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fernace

    I have 2 words for Schettino: Jail Cell! Preferably surrounded by water!!

    October 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    It reads as if he was scare. I like to hear the recordings, but i don't understand Italian.

    October 16, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. George

    He should be put away, it's crazy if he gets away with it all.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    He's the real life Zapp Brannigan. This would be hilarious if a bunch of people didn't die.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lawless4U

    While I understand maritime rules state the captain is not to leave the ship until all passengers are off, what would have been accomplished by the captain becoming another person needing rescue?

    One of the last places I would like to be is on a ship on it's side in the pitch black darkness.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Martin

    You can't reboard a ship that's on its side. The Port Authority in Italy, like all other authorities, is a joke. They just found geologists guilty of not predicting an earthquake, something geologists do not even claim to be able to do, and which is not something which anyone can rationally expect of them.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marco Hernandez

    I don't want to defend this captain, even though I myself have been subject to lack of courage more times than I would like to admit. But then again, this man should have never been captain.

    October 24, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bill Mcgowan

    Not only is that man an inept coward, he must be under the influence of something other than booze. His disoriented, evasive, and paranoid conversation with the Coast Guard reminds me of a few cocaine users I've known over the years. Was he tested for drugs ? Were the senior officers at the helm also tested. ?

    October 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NickD

    from the ship company that allows these close sail bys to the captain that crashed the ship, to the crew that abandoned her there should be stiff repurcussions.

    Those people left on board did not know the ships layout very well, it was dark and the ship was on its side. it must have been terrifying trying to ecape while those who knew the floorplan and evacuation procedures were standing safely on shore smoking cigarettes and pointing like tourists.

    Manslaughter is the very least the jury there could levy on the captain and the entire executive board of the cruise line company.

    October 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
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