The Costa Concordia Story Beggars Belief

17 Jan

It is must be the season of the shipwreck. With the Rena barely broken up, the world turns its attention to the Med, and the Costa Concordia disaster. The story so far:

  • one wrecked liner
  • 6 dead (three found on board and three found drowned at sea)
  • 29 missing, but no one seems to know for sure if that's the right number
  • divers blowing holes in the ship hull to better access flooded cabins in the search for victims
  • mega-insurance claims, lawsuits, and criminal proceedings imminent

The sea will take its due, and that means shipwrecks and lives lost. It is part of the bargain humanity makes in

return for use of the ocean highways. What is not part of the bargain, especially for any paying passengers (and now the victims and their families), is a Captain who apparently steered his ship off course and exceptionally close to a rocky island for personal (and tragically superficial) reasons.

Here's the latest reporting on what went wrong:

Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and chief executive of Costa Cruises, said Captain Francesco Schettino had made an "unapproved, unauthorised manoeuvre" before the disaster, deviating from his route to make a "salute" to the island of Giglio.

Italy's La Repubblica newspaper reported that the manoeuvre had been advertised on Facebook by the sister of a crew member. The paper said that the sister of Antonello Tievolli, the vessel's chief steward, said in a Facebook post before the crash: "In a short period of time the Concordia ship will pass very close. A big greeting to my brother who will finally get to have a holiday on landing in Savona."

Foschi's version of events also followed a report in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that Schettino altered his route for two reasons. One, it said, was to pay tribute to a retired Costa Cruises' skipper who lived on the island. The other, said the paper, was to give a unique view of Giglio to the vessel's chief steward, a native of the island.

Never underestimate man's potential for stupidity or hubris (and choose your Captains carefully).

UPDATE: Uh-oh. Audio recordings of Capt. Schettino's conduct in the aftermath have now been released, and they do no reflect well on the Captain. Suffice it to say that Schettino could end up as a verb, and not a flattering one.

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