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What Happened to The Captain of The Costa Concordia? – Conviction and Sentence

In January of 2012 the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship sailing for Costa Cruises capsized off the coast of Tuscany. The accident caused 32 deaths.

The Captain sailing the ship at the time was captain Francesco Schettino, who had worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years.

When the Costa Concordia crashed, she had over 3000 passengers and 1000 crew members on board.

The captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino was found guilty of manslaughter in 2016 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Francesco Schettino was given 10 years for multiple manslaughters, 5 years for causing a shipwreck, and 1 year for abandoning the passengers at the time of the sinking.

costa concordia
Photo: Paolodefalco75, CC BY-SA 3.0

What Role Did The Captain of The Costa Concordia Play in The Sinking of The Ship?

Schettino was the captain in charge of the cruise and was responsible for overseeing all safety aspects of the ship and cruise, including setting the course for the ship to follow.

In the case of the Costa Concordia, captain Schettino decided to sail closer to the coast than usual. It’s still unclear why he did this. Schettino said that Costa Cruises had asked him to perform a sail past but Costa Cruises have confirmed that Schettino didn’t take the approved route.

As the ship was sailing south of the entrance to Giglio Porto harbor in Tuscany, the side of the ship hit a reef. Schettino said that before approaching this area, he had turned off the alarm system for the navigational systems.

Schettino stated:

“I was navigating by sight, because I knew those seabeds well. I had done the move three, four times.”

Schettino

When Schettino saw waves breaking on the reef, he turned abruptly and swung the side of the ship into the reef. It’s reported that this was approximately 300 metres from land.

When the ship first hit, Costa Cruises told passengers it was an electrical failure and would be soon fixed. Guests were told to go back to their cabins.

The ship began to list 20 degrees which made it difficult to launch lifeboats.

coast of tuscany
Tuscany Coast

Why Did The Captain of The Costa Concordia Hit The Reef?

There are a number of theories as to why the Captain of the Costa Concordia hit the reef and sank the ship. The most likely reason is that Schettino was negligent and took too many risks.

Another theory is that Schettino was distracted by a lady he had brought onboard the ship. It’s reported that the two were in a romantic relationship, she did not pay to come onboard the cruise and was with Schettino at the time of the accident. Schettino did have a wife and daughter who were not on the cruise.

Some accounts have reported that Schettinos hair showed trace amounts of cocaine and that there was a considerable amount of cocaine on the ship as it capsized.

What Did Captain of The Costa Concordia do After Hitting The Reef?

The ship hit the reef at 22:12 and authorities were not alerted to the problem until 22:42 despite port officials asking the Costa Concordia if there was a problem on board. Schettino insisted the ship was just suffering from a blackout.

It’s a maritime tradition that the captain always goes down with his ship. Meaning that the captain should make sure that everybody else is off the ship before they disembark. Francesco didn’t do this and decided instead to save himself.

He disobeyed orders to go back to the ship.

Now you go to the bow, you climb up the emergency ladder and coordinate the evacuation. You must tell us how many people, children, women and passengers are there and the exact number of each category,” said officials to Francesco Schettino.

“What are you doing? Are you abandoning the rescue? Captain, this is an order, I am the one in charge now. You have declared abandoning ship,” he said, adding: “There are already bodies.” “How many?” Schettino says, prompting the cutting reply: “That is for you to tell me, what are you doing? Do you want to go home?”

– source

The full conversation with Captain Schettino can be heard on the video below (english subtitles available).

By 01:00 there were 100 passengers still on the ship. A full 90 minutes after Schettino had abandoned the ship.

At 03:00 it’s estimated that 40-50 people were still onboard. 32 bodies were later recovered from the wreckage.

What Was The Captain of The Costa Concordia Sentenced For?

The courts had to decide why Schettino followed a different route, why a mayday wasn’t immediately called and why he abandoned the ship.

Captain Schettino was detained on suspicion of manslaughter. He was charged with causing a shipwreck caused by ‘imprudence, negligence and incompetence. He was also charged for abandoning 300 people who were unable to disembark the ship.

costa concordia
Photo: Cezary Piwowarski

Costa Concordia Crew Convicted Crimes and Prison Times

The following crew members were found guilty following the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

Costa Concordia Crew MemberConvicted ForPrison Time
Francesco SchettinoManslaughter, Causing a Shipwreck and Abandoning a Ship16 Years
Roberto FerrariniAt least one count; Delaying an Adequate Response.2 Years 10 Months
Manrico GiampedroniHis Role in The Evacuation, Described as ‘Chaotic’ 2 Years 6 Months
Ciro AmbrosioDirecting The Ship in The Wrong Direction1 – 2 Years
Jacob Rusli BinManslaughter 1 – 2 Years
Silvia CoronicaMultiple Charges Including Abandoning a Ship 1 – 2 Years

Is The Costa Concordia Captain Still in Prison?

The captain of the Costa Concordia Francesco Schettino is still in prison for his part in the sinking. He was sentenced to 16 years in 2016. He was 54 at the time and not expected to leave prison until he is at least 70 years old.

The captain should be in prison until 2032 and is serving his sentence in Rome.

The Costa Concordia Changed Cruising Forever

Following the sinking of the Costa Concordia, a number of safety measures were put in place.

At the time of the sinking, guests boarding a cruise had to have a safety drill within 24 hours of embarkation, this meant that guests who had embarked on the day of the accident hadn’t yet had their safety drill.

To learn more about how the accident changed the muster drill, check out this post: What is a Muster Drill on a Cruise? Everything You Need to Know

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