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. vintel7

    It's easy for toxic unconscious idiots like "chrissy" to call the Captain a coward and "not a man" and etc. However, none of them were there and have no clue what the situation was. The boat was already on its side and was sinking when the Coast Guard contacted Schettino. It was dark. Chaos was everywhere. The Captain made a judgement that the best place to coordinate a rescue was from the rescue craft. Who in the hell is anyone to presume to be a judge? Any two bit unconscious moron can start yelling coward, coward but in truth the people blaming and cursing would have reacted the same way. No one is qualified to judge unless they were actually there. Accidents happen and if you haven't noticed, humans are weak, unconscious beings that lack intelligence and most do not have the character of a hero.

    October 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hagar817

      Being a captain of a ship carries a great deal of responsibilities. The most important one is not to abandon ship, the captain should be the last one off the ship, not one of the first. So yes, he is a coward.

      October 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • AllThatJazz

      You are completely correct, vintel7. This "man" was and is a 'weak, unconscious being that lacks intelligence' (OK, I paraphrased. So sue me.) but as the Captain of a ship, and directly and ultimately responsible for the lives and well-being of all the passengers and crew, these are precisely the attributes that he cannot afford to have. He never should have accepted a position like that if he was the least bit uncertain of his ability to place his responsibility before his own personal safety. This guy should have been barred by the corporation from command if there was any indications that he was a coward. Or does this company do psych profiles? Anybody know?

      October 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • AllThatJazz

      Oh, and before you try telling me that I would do the same as this idiot, let me tell you that I'm a 20 year veteran of the USN, was injured once fighting the USS Nimitz' flight deck fire in '81, was injured a second time during Desert Storm (yes, got a Purple Heart for that one), and continued serving my country to complete my 20 and retire. I don't think I would turn and run from my responsibility if the situation ever came up. Sure the guy's not military, but some professions require that level of dedication and self sacrifice (Police, Fire Fighters and EMT's come to mind) and to be in command of a vessel sure as heck requires all that and more.

      October 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted

      How was he going to know whether or not passengers needed assistance getting off that ship if he was "coordinating" from another boat? Who was the last person off that airliner sinking in the Hudson River? Who went to the back of the plane and made absolutely certain there was no one left? Rescue personnel? H*ll no. The Captain did it. It was his freaking job.

      October 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill

      maybe you guy did not understand when he said they were catapulted off the ship not abandon ship!!

      November 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • will

      So what? Now when a ship sinks at night no one is to blame? because it was dark? Yes, it gets dark, yes there was commotion... yes ships still sink.. and yes, real men stepped up... just not the Captain

      "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." He had the ability to get back on board, he is a coward. I would have done more as a passenger.

      November 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • APD Officer

      Yup, he's a coward alright. You can see it in all the excuses and garbage he makes up after repeatedly being told to go and do his job. The captain of a ship is never to abandon passengers like that. Just as a police officer I would never abandon victims during a call, regardless of what it is. It doesn't matter if it is dark, cold, raining, snowing or anything else. I leave last and I make sure EVERYONE gets out safely. And to AllThatJazz, I salute you for your service. True men of honor recognize one another and you are one of those men. Thank you.

      November 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Frog

    Doesn't matter how bad it is. The captain doesn't get to run away and leave people on board. He is to stay until all are safe, only then can he leave. If it's too late, well... you know the old saying. The captain GOES DOWN WITH THE SHIP!

    October 29, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mike T

    Frog, he was a coward. There were two courses of actions. 1. Stay on board EVEN KNOWING it could mean his own life, to ensure that the passengers are evacuated safely. 2. Allow himself to be "catapulted" into the sea while the 100 or so passengers who didn't get "catapulted" are left to fend for themselves. These are the EXACT choices that separate heroes from cowards. He was scared, it was dark, he was in danger, he could die, he was shaking uncontrollably, he saw his life flash before him, what would his wife and family do with him dead, it is going to hurt to drown in the cold cruel sea. These are all things that go through the heads of BOTH heroes and cowards. Hell, he didn't have to even be a hero...just do his JOB which was to ensure the safety of the passengers FIRST before himself. He was a coward. He should be hung by his thumbs and then shot like history's other cowards.

    October 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ari Osteen

      I agree, but that last part...really? rofl

      October 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sue

      Really, same as your other commenter. Agree up to the point of the last sentence.

      November 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gabriel

    Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Extremely helpful info specially the final part 🙂 I handle such info a lot. I used to be seeking this particular info for a very lengthy time. Thank you and good luck.

    October 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alli

    He is a coward. To those who say well you dont know what you would do, if he was commadant or captain of the ship, he should have only accepted the position if he was willing to die for his passengers. I am an Iraq veteran, got hurt in Fallujah, I have been in the position to know what I would do if that and other situations happen. That is why I am able to call him a coward. I drove a 7 ton, when the ied went off I got all the grunts out of the back of my truck, well I directed them and the corpsman to who was hurt. I was responsible for that truck and all of those who were on it, I was willing to die for them. Before every patrol, I would make peace with God so I would not be scared to die, because when you are scared and try to protect your ass thats when people die.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PJ

    Now THAT'S Italian!!!

    October 31, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. C McCoy

    Not going to defend him because if I was in his position I WOULD stay on until every possible soul I could reach was off my boat. That being said, those of you stating the idea that a captain is the last one off the boat are incorrect. Once a captain orders an abandon ship, it is literally all hands for themselves. The crew often does not even man their lifeboat stations. It has been this way for at least 35 years. It is a sad but long tradition. Read on the sinking of the Oceanis. The bandleader ended up playing the role of captain. the crew took the life boats and abandoned the passengers on the ship! If you take a cruise, make sure you know where your lifeboat station is and how to operate it, because chances are the crew won't. Also, bring a pipe or bat with you when you go to your station to ensure the crew doesn't take your life boat with only a few aboard and leave the rest to die.

    I am not kidding. It is and has been this bad for some time. Consider this some sage advice from someone that knows cruise ship companies.

    November 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • sue

      Remind me never to take a cruise if this is the state of safety on those ships. Good lord, I really previously believed that there was a code for captain and crew aboard any sea-faring vessel.

      November 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ezinnj

    Screw getting on board. I wouldn't get back on either. No job is worth my life...Not happening.

    November 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • paramedic2274

      Nothing wrong with not doing a job you don't want to do, but if you don't like heat stay out of the kitchen.

      November 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. paramedic2274

    To ezinnj. Its not " a job "! Its your responsibility as Captain, there's a difference. If you're not comfortable with putting the safety of others before yourself, then don't accept the position. Do the laundry, serve food or whatever best serves your cowardice. I'd personally rather die and give my one life than have to live with the deaths of so many more. Sure, I'd be scared, be thinking about my wife and kids, be thinking about getting everyone off that ship so I could THEN save my own rear. Stay the heck away from positions of leadership and responsibility

    November 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • MAK

      Paramedic, well stated. The man was trusted to a position of authority and was responsible for every soul on that ship. He knew his duty precisely but chose to be a coward.

      PS - Thank you AllThatJazz and Alli for your service to the country, and thank you Paramedic for your service as well.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. davec

    This Captain was a coward. It may have been dark and chaotic, but he didn't even attempt to asses the viability of the orders he was being given by the Italian authorities. A simple "yes sir," or "what you are asking me to do is not possible because....I recommend we do the following..." would have been a proper response. He of all people understood maritime law and the chain of command and the command he had relinquished. He was now on board a seaworthy vessel. His life was no longer in danger. I also feel that what the Coast Guard was telling him to do was at very low risk to his own personal safety. They weren't ordering him to his death. They were telling him to climb a ladder up onto the hull of his ship and assist those people who had entrusted their lives to him while rescue boats drifted nearby. I'm sure he's had extensive training in rescue operations. Read those transcripts again. Those were not normal conversations between leaders dealing with a stressful situation. Fear had reduced Schettino to a useless, pleading coward.

    November 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Big Daddy

    No time to be scared save that for later. When you are the person in charge of any vehicle, ship, boat, plane, car, bus, yes I said car. If people are in YOUR car, you are the captain. Your duty is to take command since you are in command and make sure everybody in or on you command is taken care of, PERIOD. You do not consider your own life, ever. If you do not accept this responsibility do not take it. Your job is to insure the safety of your passengers, even if it's your car filled with people, kids, a dog or cat even. It doesn't matter if you are a woman or man, that is your responsibility as a human being. That is the problem with people they do not understand this moral duty. Moral duty, it has nothing to do with rules or religion, it's a Moral Duty.

    November 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carol

    Catapulted off the ship, from the command center? Please, seven year olds tell better lies. He did not fall off the ship, he jumped without thinking about anyone but himself. Murderer. He was gutless, yellow bellied, coward and a traitor to the guests on that ship. Look for a high tree and a thick rope and let him swing in the breeze.

    November 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LauraJ

    I believe the word De Falco was searching for was 'coward'. Or perhaps a combination: lying coward.

    Utter disgrace of a man.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sue

    It was the captain's fault in the first place for showboating near rocks. How he gets off abandoning ship after that, I don't know.

    November 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sue

    And I don't agree with the comments re: hanging him. But he needs to face serious consequences
    .

    November 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
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