Costa CEO: Captain misled company, crew

2012-01-21 08:30

Rome - The cruise captain who grounded the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast with 4 200 people on board did not relay correct information either to the company or crew after the ship hit rocks, the cruise ship owner's CEO said as the search resumed for 21 missing passengers.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV on Friday that the company spoke to the captain at 22:05 (21:05 GMT), 20 minutes after the ship ran aground on January 13, but could not offer proper assistance because the captain's description "did not correspond to the truth".

Captain Francesco Schettino said only that he had "problems" on board but did not mention hitting a reef.

Likewise, Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation.

Passenger video shown on Italian TV indicates crew members telling passengers to go to their cabins as late as 22:25 (21:25 GMT). The abandon ship alarm sounded just before 23:00.

Incorrect information

"That's because they also did not receive correct information on the gravity of the situation," Foschi said.

The $450m Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4 200 passengers and crew when it slammed into well-charted rocks off the island of Giglio a week ago. Eleven people have been confirmed dead.

The Concordia shifted again on its rocky perch on Friday, forcing the suspension of diving search operations for the 21 people still missing and raising concerns about the stability of the ship's resting place. But the search in areas above the waterline resumed in the evening after the ship was deemed stable.

The remarks by Costa CEO Foschi are the latest to indicate a lack of proper communication with authorities on land as the emergency unfolded.

An audiotape of the Concordia's first contact with maritime authorities has a Concordia office repeatedly replying that the ship had experienced a blackout, even though it had hit the reef more than half an hour earlier.

Italian media reported the officer on the call was Schettino, but that could not be independently confirmed.

No support for captain

Costa Crociere SpA, which offered support to the captain in the hours after the emergency, has now turned its back on the man who is under investigation for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship. Schettino, who was jailed after he left the ship, is under house arrest near Naples.

Costa in recent days has suspended Schettino, announced it is no longer paying his legal fees and has signed on as a civil party in the prosecution, a move that positions it as an injured party and would allow it to seek damages in the case of a guilty verdict.

Coast Guard spokesperson Cosimo Nicastro said crews will evaluate the ship's stability on Saturday morning to see if the diving operation can resume, focusing on an area where passengers would have sought lifeboats, Nicastro said.

It was not clear if the slight movements registered by sensors placed on board the Costa Concordia were just vibrations as the ship settles on the rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio or if the massive ocean liner is slowly slipping off the reef. Salvage experts suggest it could be because of pockets of air gradually escaping.

The sensors detected that the ship's bow was moving about 15mm an hour and the stern about seven millimetres an hour, said Nicola Casagli of the University of Florence, who was called in by Italian authorities to monitor the ship's stability.

Movements being watched

The Concordia's movements are being watched since any significant shift could be dangerous for divers trying to locate those missing since the Concordia ran aground January 13. An additional fear is that movement could damage tanks holding 500 000 gallons of fuel oil and lead to leaks.

The sea floor drops off sharply a few metres from where the ship is resting, and Italy's environment minister has warned it risks sinking.

On Friday, relatives of some of the 21 missing were at Giglio's port getting briefings from rescue teams.

Casagli told Sky TG24 that some movement in the Concordia was only natural given the immense weight of the steel-hulled ship, which is being held in place by two huge rocks at bow and stern.

But the latest movements indicate it isn't stable, he said. "These are small, regular movements that are being monitored because they're going in the same direction," he told Sky.

Late on Thursday, Carnival Corp, the US-based company that owns Costa, announced it was conducting a comprehensive audit of all 10 of its cruise lines to review safety and emergency response procedures in the wake of the Costa disaster. The evacuation was chaotic and the alarm to abandon the ship was sounded after the Concordia had capsized too much to get many life boats down.

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-01-21 09:38

    "repeatedly replying that the ship had experienced a blackout" The captain had a blackout himself from what it seems...

      Squeegee - 2012-01-21 15:38

      No doubt, the Captain is the most hated man in Italy right now, but, "a move that positions it as an injured party and would allow it to seek damages in the case of a guilty verdict" reeks of the company just covering its own behind!

      Hector - 2012-01-23 16:06

      @ Sqeegee I know I don't normally agree with you but hell you nailed this on on the head. I work for a shipping company .. have worked for a few .. as Master .. and I can tell you they lie like flat fish... CYOA...and they have more money so we will never get the truth .. I bet the Capt now wishes he had the balls to put in a Non Conformance for the defective VDR...but he was probably promised by the company " Don't worry we will have a technical team at the next port ... etc etc.." he may have got off to quick but there is more to this than the company lets on. I hope he Covered his ass and kept copies of his e-mails to the office on his own off ship account.

  • Gar - 2012-01-21 09:53

    I think this captain is going down in history as the most cowardly man ever.

      John - 2012-01-21 10:14

      Gar there are much much worse men! For every men, or action, of courage, there must be a few men acted cowardly; actions even by the same man! Some days a hero, Some days a zero, Sometimes the bad times wont leave me alone,...

      Kevin - 2012-01-21 10:58

      I think the Captain of the Oceanos holds that title. But it is a close call either way.

      Ray - 2012-01-21 11:16

      Just heard a good one on Cape Talk,supposedly a true story. Winston Churchill was holidaying on an Italian cruise ship and was asked why he chose this instead of a British vessel.He said,for 3 main reasons. 1.Superb food. 2.Excellent service 3.If there is an emergency,there is none of that women and children first crap!!

  • mario.dippenaar - 2012-01-21 09:57

    Kif Kroker: Captain, may I have a word with you? Captain Zapp Brannigan: No. Kif Kroker: It's an emergency, sir. Captain Zapp Brannigan: Come back when it's a catastrophe. [a huge rumbling is heard] Captain Zapp Brannigan: Oh, very well. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Zapp Brannigan has just piloted the Titanic straight into the path of a black hole] Captain Zapp Brannigan: Don't blame yourself, Kif. We were doomed from the start. I guess all that remains now is for the captain to go down with the ship. Lt. Kif Kroker: That's surprisingly noble of you, sir. Captain Zapp Brannigan: No, it's noble of you, Kif. As of now, you're in command. Congratulations, Captain. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lt. Kif Kroker: [Captain Zapp Brannigan wants to change the flight course] This is a pleasure cruise. Our path is decided by the travel agency. Captain Zapp Brannigan: That's for schoolgirls. Now here's a course with some chest hair. [Draws a meandering line on the chart] Lt. Kif Kroker: But that leads us straight through a comet field. Captain Zapp Brannigan: Ah, yes. Comets, the icebergs of the sky. By jackknifing off one after another at breakneck speed, we can create a gravity boost, or something.

  • arlene.hanns - 2012-01-21 09:58

    Harrrrrrrr!!!!make him walk the plank, me hardies!

  • Shirley - 2012-01-21 10:34

    It sounds to me like the people responsible for the "hiring" of captains and staff need a much more in depth interviewing programme as these guys dont sound like they have the credentials for the job!

      Hector - 2012-01-23 16:08

      Oh gee ... that is what the HR dept. forgot ... to see if he has a COC... DOH !! REALLY ??

  • Andy - 2012-01-22 20:44

    The Costa Company is like their Captain - abandoning ship (abandoning responsibility).........idiots..

  • pages:
  • 1