Costa Concordia: The captain’s failure and the drug mafia have made the tragedy a national shame

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The horror of the whole event was exacerbated by various controversies. It soon became clear that the misfortune was due to the risky actions of the conceited Captain Francesco Schettin, who also escaped from the ship among the first. He earned the nickname Cowardly Captain. And when, after a few years, the drugs of the Italian mafia went down with the vessel, the whole tragic story literally became a farce.

A performance for a mistress

The fateful moment came when a luxury steamer, which had been cruising the sea since 2006, set out on a seven-day cruise around the Italian coast. He left the port of Civitavecchia shortly before seven in the evening, but got into trouble two hours later. The ship was passing Giglio Island when Captain Schettino gave a very unusual order – he asked the ship to deviate from its course and approach the port extremely close.

Why he decided to do so is still a mystery. “In a later trial, the prosecutors tried to prove with him that the married captain had decided to present himself to his mistress, a former dancer from Moldova, for a risky maneuver,” reports the History server.

According to the Italian station Rai News, the young woman Domnica Cermortan later really admitted that she had an affair with the captain and also that he invited her to the captain’s bridge on a fateful evening, where she had nothing to look for. And just to watch her approach the island. However, Schettino repeatedly stated in court that he only wanted to greet the islanders and allow passengers to enjoy the view of the harbor. There was also a version that he wanted to pay tribute to the former ship’s captain, who was staying on the island.


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Whatever his motives, the result was that the giant ship had indeed carried out a maneuver called the inchino, in which sometimes large vessels with sirens greeted people on the mainland. “At 9.44 pm Concordia was located just 160 meters from the coast. At that moment, Schettino ordered her to turn right and gave a few more quick instructions, because he seemed to realize that he was already taking too many risks. But the helmsman Rusli Bin misunderstood the last hint and turned the rudder 20 degrees in the opposite direction, “says the Italian station Rai News.

The tragedy has been completed. A few minutes later, the ship ran aground on a rock that was not recorded on the maps. The huge impact felt by everyone on board cut a 70-meter-long hole in the hull. “Just to give you an idea, it’s more than the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa,” explains Rai News.

We’re going to the bottom, don’t you understand?

Water began to pour into Concordia at tremendous speed. Unfortunately for everyone on board, it flooded areas where, among other things, energy generators and elements important for the control of the vessel were located. Electricity went out on the steamer, and although the captain quickly gave the order to slow down, Concordia became unmanageable. The officers quickly began to assess the damage. “We’re practically going down, don’t you understand?” Said First Officer Giovanni Iaccarino, according to records.

Not only he and his colleagues panicked. The impact scared all the passengers, of course, and the ship began to scream in despair. “After the collision, I told my cousin that something was wrong, because the ship was a floating city and it shouldn’t move like that. Then the lights went out and the people in panic began to run in all directions. There were jackets, shoes, prams on the stairs. My wife was holding the railing on the stairs and didn’t want to move. Her daughter said, “Mom, come on, come on,” Moroni, a passenger, recalled for La Repubblica’s horrible moments.


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If the evacuation began at that moment, the casualties could probably have been avoided. But another string of fatal mistakes took place instead. “The captain has ordered the crew to inform the passengers that this is only a power outage,” Rai News said. People were ordered to return to the cabins.

Even after a few minutes, the captain called his superior and admitted that the ship would probably sink, he repeated the story of the blackout to the authorities on shore. And even his superior, Roberto Ferrarini, was in no hurry to report everything to the authorities. In truth, the captain did not come out until after ten o’clock. In addition, he was moved by the unexpected movement of the vessel. “Around a quarter to eleven, the ship changed direction and began to return to shore. Schettino later claimed that he had the vessel under control at the time, but the expert commission later turned to the version that the maneuver was a combination of water in the ship, sea currents and strong winds, “sums up the Rai News station. It was really bad at that moment. The inclination of the vessel was too great.

Keep calm and leave the ship

More than an hour after the crash, an evacuation order was finally issued. “Passengers later described it as extremely chaotic. On the one hand, they allegedly did not hear any alarm, and on the other hand, most of the lifeboats were unusable because they were on the sloping side, “says the History server.

Some desperate people started jumping into the water, trying to save themselves. However, others found it difficult to reach the railing because it was difficult to move in the corridors of the inclined vessel. “The panicked passengers rushed at the boats that were available. Some even beat the crew members who prevented them from accessing the boats, “described one of the Concordia officers, Ciro Ambrosio.

Even those who jumped didn’t have it easy. “The turbulent waters around the ship began to draw them into the depths as the ship sank. Some also tried to get down from the vessel into the water on a rope ladder at the stern, but that required a lot of effort, “says the Rai News server.

Two captains

In the meantime, rescue units have already set out for the vessel. However, when they finally managed to contact Captain Schettin after one o’clock in the morning, they were shocked. “Schettino has told them that he is on board the lifeboat and that he is following the rescue process from the sea. In addition, he was extremely evasive when it came to information about the number of people left in Concordia, “says Rai News.

The cowardice of the captain, who would normally leave the sinking ship last, was extremely angry at that moment with another captain, the commander of the frigate Gregorio de Falco, whose name was also indelibly connected with the whole event. But in a completely different sense than Captain Costa Concordia. He reunited with Schettini several times that night. “I understand he was postponing the alarm, which lost 45, maybe fifty precious minutes,” de Falco said later. According to him, he believed that convincing Captain Concordia to act as a proper commander could save more lives and perhaps at least partially his colleague’s career.


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But he failed. When the transcript of their conversations made public over time, one of his sentences in Italy literally became popular, and even appeared on his T-shirts. “Get back on board, motherfucker,” de Falco shouted, his shout only adding to the controversy of the situation.

While Schettino behaved like a coward, the role he was to play all the time was taken over by others. For example, former Giglia Deputy Mayor Mario Pellegrini. “He climbed a sloping ship up a rope ladder at the stern, which Schettini refused to return to,” La Repubblica writes.

Such an act required courage. “It was a ladder hanging in the void. I climbed, but it wasn’t easy, it requires strength, “Pellegrini recalled. He was on the ship even when she reached the greatest heel she had ever stayed in.

That’s when most of the victims died. They were either overwhelmed by furniture or pulled into the water. Pellegrini did not panic. “I threw a rope into the flooded parts and pulled people out. Officer Simone Canessa and I pulled out the last man at half past five in the morning, a girl with a broken leg. Canessa and I were the last to leave the ship, “said Pellegrini.

Mafia drugs

When the Costa Concordia sank, there were 4,229 people on board. The last living man was finally pulled out of here by half past five in the morning of the next day. Schettino never returned to the ship, following everything from the mainland. After the accident, the luxury steamer remained partially submerged a short distance from the coast for another two years before a decision was made about its future.


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He was finally picked up during a complex operation in 2014. His last voyage was to the port of Genoa, where it was gradually dismantled. And it was not until his demolition that the body of the 32nd victim of the disaster was discovered. Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison in a media trial.

But the Concordia story is not over. In 2015, La Repubblica came up with a sensational finding that put the crown on the whole case. The drugs of the Italian mafia ‘Ndrangheta, which smuggled them there, also fell to the bottom of the steamer. “The ship that made us all over the world made a fool of us,” said Michele Rossi, the boss of the mafia.

The last part of Concordia was scrapped in 2016.

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