Italy’s notorious shipwreck captain, accused of a fatal delay in sounding the alarm as his Costa Concordia cruise liner sank, has sparked outrage by giving a lecture to students on best emergency practices.
Francesco Schettino, dubbed Captain Coward after allegedly abandoning ship before his passengers were safe, was invited by a professor to speak for two hours at a criminology seminar linked to Rome’s La Sapienza university, despite being on trial for the deaths of 32 people in the 2012 disaster ::::
Italy’s education minister Stefania Giannini said the news was “disconcerting”, while the university’s dean distanced himself from the seminar, saying he had not been informed of Schettino’s address, which he viewed as an “inappropriate and unworthy choice”.
The professor who invited Schettino to speak at the seminar, which was held last month, has been referred to the university’s ethics committee.
“I was called to speak because I am an expert. I had to talk about panic management,” Schettino told La Nazione daily, saying he had used a 3D model of the doomed Costa Concordia to demonstrate how emergency evacuations are carried out.
“I know what to do in these sorts of situations,” he said.
Schettino is accused of refusing to give the order to evacuate until the vast ship had begun to topple over, despite knowing it was sinking from a hole torn in the side after he struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The prosecution says the delay meant lifeboats on one side of the ship could no longer be launched, forcing panicked people to jump into the freezing sea.
Disbelief turned to outrage after the former captain went on to compare the Concordia shipwreck to the September 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre, La Nazione said.
“I really am outraged by what can happen in this country. What sort of example is this to give to our young people?” said the prosecutor in Schettino’s trial, Francesco Verusio.
Schettino faces up to 20 years in jail for manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship.
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Costa Concordia (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkɔsta konˈkɔrdja]) was a Concordia-class cruise ship built in 2004 by the Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente yards in Italy and operated from 2005 until 2012 by Costa Crociere (a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation). It was wrecked off the coast of Isola del Giglio in Italy on 13 January 2012. It was declared a total loss and later towed to the port of Genoa where it will be scrapped.
The name Concordia was intended to express the wish for “continuing harmony, unity, and peace between European nations.”
Costa Concordia was the first of the Concordia-class cruise ships, followed by similar ships Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, and Carnival Splendor built for Carnival Cruise Lines. When the 114,137 GT Costa Concordia and its sister ships entered service, they were among the largest ships built in Italy until the construction of the 130,000 GT Dream-class cruise ships.
On 13 January 2012 at about 9:45 p.m., in calm seas and overcast weather, under command of Captain Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the eastern shore of Isola del Giglio, on the western coast of Italy about 100 km northwest of Rome.
This tore a 50 m (160 ft) gash on the port side of her hull, which soon flooded parts of the engine room resulting in power loss to her propulsion and electrical systems. With water flooding in and listing, the ship drifted back to Giglio Island where she grounded 500 m north of the village of Giglio Porto, resting on her starboard side in shallow waters with most of her starboard side under water.
Despite the gradual sinking of the ship, its complete loss of power, and its proximity to shore in calm seas, an order to abandon ship was not issued until over an hour after the initial impact. Although international maritime law requires all passengers to be evacuated within 30 minutes of an order to abandon ship, the evacuation of Costa Concordia took over six hours and not all passengers were evacuated. Of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew known to have been aboard, 32 died.
Accidents and Incidents
2008 bow damage
On 22 November 2008, Costa Concordia suffered damage to her bow when high winds over the Sicilian city of Palermo pushed the ship against its dock. There were no injuries and repairs started soon after.
2012 grounding and partial sinking
On 13 January 2012, at 21:45 local time, Costa Concordia hit a rock off Isola del Giglio – 42°21′55″N 10°55′17″E.
A 53-metre long gash was made in the port side hull, along 3 compartments of the engine room (deck 0); power to the engines and ship services was cut off. Taking on water, the vessel started to list to port. 24 minutes later, strong winds pushed the vessel back towards the island. The water in the ship poured into the starboard side of the ship, causing it to reverse list to starboard.
Without power, the ship drifted astern, but was now listing heavily to starboard. Costa Concordia drifted back and grounded near shore, then partly capsized onto her starboard side, in an unsteady position on a rocky underwater ledge.
Almost half of the ship remained above water, but it was in danger of sinking completely into a trough 70 metres deep.
She was carrying 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members, all but 32 of whom were rescued; as of 22 March 2012, 30 bodies had been found, with two people known to be missing and presumed dead.
There may have been other people not listed on board. The search for bodies was canceled at the end of January and resumed after the parbuckling maneuver in September 2013, after which additional remains have been found.
On September 26, 2013, remains were found on deck 4, and were reported as being the two passengers reported as missing. The following day the remains were found not to be from the missing passengers. In October 2013, the body of one of the missing passengers was found and confirmed to be that of Maria Grazia Trecarichi. Scuba divers had discovered her body in an advanced state of decay, near the third deck of the salvaged ship.
An investigation focused on shortcomings in the procedures followed by the crew and the actions of the Italian captain, who allegedly left the ship prematurely. About 300 passengers were left on board, most of whom were rescued by helicopter or motorboats in the area.