Costa Blames Captain

The blame for the grounding of the Costa Concordia was put squarely on the shoulders of Captain Francesco Schettino, who without good reason, deviated from the ship’s planned course, according to Pier-Luigi Foschi, chairman and CEO of Costa Crociere.

In a press conference this morning, Foschi said the captain did not follow the particular route, which is sailed by Costa ships at least 100 times a year. Apparently, the captain decided to go closer to shore to greet the town on the little island of Giglio. According to Foschi, the Concordia was only 150 meters from shore when it struck a rock. While Captain Schettino has reportedly claimed that the rock was uncharted, Foschi said that depends on what chart he was using. Asked whether the rock was charted, he answered yes.

Foschi also said there are visual and sound alarms when a ship goes off course, but these systems can be turned off for manual control of the ship.

The listing was attributed to the ingress of water, and as for whether it would have been different if the ship had been built to the new safe-return-to-port concept, Foschi said he did not believe the new regulations would have made a difference.

Meanwhile, he deferred specific questions regarding the grounding, saying that the prosecutor has the so-called black box from the ship, and that Costa has no access to its contents at this time.

Foschi also commented that the captain is the master of the ship and his decision must be followed by law. Captain Schettino has been employed by Costa since 2002, first as safety officer and was later promoted to captain. He has not been involved in any incidents before. Before joining Costa, he sailed as staff captain with another cruise line.

The bridge manning at the time of the incident was three (their ranks were not specified) in addition to the captain. Foschi said the captain is only expected to change course due to special circumstances such as weather conditions.

The grounding took place three-and-a-half-hours hours after the Concordia left Civitavecchia, and despite the difficult conditions, Foschi said, the crew managed to evacuate the ship within two hours after the abandon-ship command was given. He noted that because of the list, only lifeboats on one side of the ship could be used. He did not say whether rafts were deployed and to what extent local vessels assisted or people swam ashore.

While officers and crew undergo rigorous training in safety procedures, Foschi said it is uncertain whether people can train for such difficult circumstances, and simulating a Concordia incident would not be easy, he added.

At this point, there are still some crew members and passengers missing.

Costa has not decided whether to declare the Concordia a total loss or not, but the financial impact on the company is estimated to be $93 million, according to Foschi.


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