Cruise ship's black box reveals confused orders

Disgraced skipper of stricken liner may face manslaughter charges

Milan

The black box onboard the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship which sank claiming 32 lives, recorded the captain and first officer shouting conflicting "turn to port" and "turn to starboard" instructions to the helmsman moments before the collision, a closed hearing heard yesterday.

The recording also apparently captured captain Francesco Schettino, 51, saying "Let's go and do a salute [to Giglio]" in his native Neapolitan dialect. Moments after giving the initial order "hard to port", Mr Schettino changed his mind and ordered: "Hard to starboard. Close the watertight doors in the engine room," the session reportedly heard.

After the liner hit rocks just yards off the Italian island of Giglio, an impact which tore a 50m hole in the hull, the black box recorded the captain asking: "So are we really going down? I don't understand."

The hearing in the Tuscan port of Grosseto will decide whether Mr Schettino is indicted on charges of abandoning ship before his passengers, and of multiple manslaughter. Five crew members, including the vessel's second in command, Ciro Ambrosio, may also be indicted after the hearing, which is due to last up to six days. So many people are expected to attend, including 1,000 survivors and 120 lawyers, that the hearing is in a theatre.

Mr Schettino met survivors face to face yesterday and even shook hands with one passenger who escaped the cruise ship on the night of 13 January.

"Yes, we have to find out the truth," Mr Schettino was heard telling Concordia passenger Luciano Castro. After shaking the disgraced captain's hand, Mr Castro concurred: "We hope that the truth is established."

Despite being captain of the ship, Mr Schettino was quickly off the vessel before hundreds of his passengers. He has told investigators that he tripped into a lifeboat.

Marine experts, including a senior lifeguard officer, have already said that a crowd-pleasing but risky manoeuvre in which the ship was sailed too close to shore caused the fatal collision.

They also said delays in evacuating the liner, which had more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, were responsible for most of the fatalities. However, Mr Schettino has insisted that his skill in bringing the sinking ship closer to shore saved lives.

Others were in a less forgiving mood than Mr Castro. "We're lucky we're not dead," said Ernesto Carusotti, another passenger. "Schettino has to take his share of the blame."

British couple Charanjit Phander, 52, and his wife, Mohan, 48, said they wanted an explanation for the confusion after the collision. Mr Phander said: "No one really knew what was happening. There seemed to be a long wait from the initial problems to finally being told to get life jackets on."

Investigators have also questioned the standard of Costa Cruises' emergency procedures, and three senior company officials, including marine operations director Roberto Ferrarini, may also stand trial after the evidence accumulated so far is presented this week to the preliminary investigations judge, Valeria Montesarchio.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Voices
Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré deliver an anti-fracking letter to No 10 last week
voicesThe great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick