Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino blames crew for crash

 

The captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia has blamed his helmsman for the accident which caused the ship to crash off the coast of Italy last year.

Francesco Schettino, currently standing trial in Italy, told the court that as the ship came dangerously close to the rocky coast of Giglio island, the helmsman failed to obey orders to slow down and steered the ship onto the rocks. Thirty-two people died in the accident.

Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship before the cruise liner's 4,200 passengers and crew could be evacuated in January 2012.

The captain claims he is being made a scapegoat for the mistakes of others and that mechanical problems exacerbated the tragedy. Critics, however, have called him a negligent coward.

It was an off-route manoeuvre that the captain is alleged to have taken in part because he wanted to impress his passengers with a close-up view of the Tuscan island's twinkling lights.

Schettino told the court that as the Concordia came close to Giglio's rocky coastline, he ordered his helmsman to turn the rudder to the left, but the crewman reacted too slowly and shifted to the right instead. The reef sliced a 230-foot gash in the ship's hull.

"If it weren't for the helmsman's error, to not position the rudder to the left ... the swerve (toward the reef) and the collision wouldn't have happened," said Schettino, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Schettino also has said the reef was not on his charts, and that the company should shoulder some blame.

Investigators have said language problems between the Italian captain and the Indonesian-born helmsman may have played a role in the botched manoeuvre. A maritime expert, however, told the court that although the helmsman was slow to react and had indeed erred, in the end it did not matter.

"The helmsman was 13 seconds late in executing the manoeuvre, but the crash would have happened anyway," Italian Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone said.

The helmsman, Jacob Rusli Bin, is one of five Costa employees granted plea bargains in return for mild sentences in a separate proceeding. He was sentenced to 20 months, but because of a law to reduce prison overcrowding, none of the five is likely to serve time behind bars.

Those upset by the relatively light punishments had some cause for optimism. A Florence-based prosecutor lodged a formal challenge to the plea bargain deals, and Italy's highest criminal court will have to rule on it at a later date.

Last week, the capsized ship was raised upright in a major salvage operation. Now resting upright on a man-made platform on the seabed, it is expected to be towed away next year and broken up for scrap. In the meantime, Schettino's defence team wants experts to go inside it to determine why water pumps and an emergency generator failed to function, among other alleged mechanical problems.

"The power generator - as are the other devices - are fundamental to understanding what happened that night," Schettino's lawyer Francesco Pepe said on his way into court. "We want to understand why they didn't work."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea