Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Down With The Ship, He Should Still Be There!

Some people I know have reached out to me about the Italian Captain of the Costa Concordia abandoning his ship/post . I have rescued a few folks in my days in the Coast Guard, and I found more hero's than zeros. Honestly, I never remember one time where the person who was responsible for the boat/ship wasn't the last one to leave. I have picked up people floating in life jackets, and some were dads with their family. Dad didn't know navigation rules, but he instinctively insisted we get his wife and kids out of the water before him. Broken down fishing boat captains, made sure their guests and crew were safe before stepping over onto the Coast Guard boat I was skippering. (Although I will admit, occasionally I would have a crewman on board to assist) I could sum up the ability of the skipper.

The story has taken over various web sites and editorials are now being written.
The Captain is now under house arrest.
The rules are simple and explained very well in this phone conversation dialogue between the Ships Captain and the Italian Coast Guard Captain of the Port. (Officer of the Day)

In a dramatic phone conversation released Tuesday, a coast guard official was heard ordering the captain, who had abandoned the ship with his first officers, back on board to oversee the evacuation. But Capt. Francesco Schettino resisted the order, saying it was too dark and the ship was tipping dangerously.
"You go on board! Is that clear? Do you hear me?" the Coast Guard officer shouted as the captain of the grounded Costa Concordia sat safe in a life raft and frantic passengers struggled to escape after the ship rammed into a reef off the Tuscan coast.
"It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared 'Abandon ship.' Now I am in charge."
 "Listen Schettino," De Falco can be heard shouting in the audio tape. "There are people trapped on board. ... You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?"
But Schettino resisted, saying the ship was listing and he was with his second-in-command in the lifeboat.
"I am here with the rescue boats. I am here. I am not going anywhere. I am here," he said. "I am here to coordinate the rescue."
"What are you coordinating there? Go on board! Coordinate the rescue from aboard the ship. Are you refusing?" came the response.
Schettino said he was not refusing, but he still did not return to the ship, saying at one point: "Do you realize it is dark and here we can't see anything?"
De Falco shouted back: "And so what? You want to go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!"
The exchange also indicates that Schettino did not know anyone had died, with De Falco telling him at one point: "There are already bodies now, Schettino."
"How many bodies?" Schettino asks in a nervous tone.
"You are the one who has to tell me how many there are!" De Falco barks in response.
Schettino was finally heard on the tape agreeing to reboard. But the coast guard has said he never went back, and police arrested him on land several hours later.
 Emphasis is mine above.  Once a ship declares Abandon ship, the Coast Guard is in charge. BUT, the Captain is supposed to be the last one leaving their ship. Cowardice at sea, such as this, should not be tolerated. This Captains crew had to basically mutiny to get some things done.  Some of the crew will face charges as well.

My opinion?   He is responsible, for the wreck and the death of 11 of the 4300 people he was trusted to care for. I am only sorry that Keel Hauling is now outlawed for a sea punishment. Hanging from the yardarm, outlawed, too.  100 lashes? Out. He will probably get jail time. Doesn't seem like justice to me.

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