Hard-pressed to explain his refusal to leave the safety of his lifeboat as his ship went down and his passengers perished, Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino told investigators he slipped from the ship’s deck and reluctantly fell to safety.Tom Kington at The Guardian reports that Schettino admits veering off course to “salute a retired captain,” but was simply unable to coordinate an evacuation due to his ill-timed fall.
The testimony came out in a three hour hearing to determine if the captain should be charged with manslaughter for abandoning his ship.
“I didn’t even have a life jacket because I had given it to one of the passengers. I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60-70° angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That’s how I found myself in the lifeboat,” Schettino told the court.
He further explained that by grounding the vessel so close to shore, he saved the lives of many passengers.
The testimony seems more plausible without reading the transcript that details the Coast Guard’s attempt to get Schettino back on the ship and help save his passengers.
The Coast Guard recording says: “You go on board! Is that clear? Do you hear me?” As the captain sat in the life raft near the foundering cruise ship. “It is an order. Don’t make any more excuses. You have declared ‘Abandon ship.’ Now [the Coast Guard is] in charge.”
“I am here with the rescue boats,” Schettino replied. “I am here. I am not going anywhere. I am here. I am here to coordinate the rescue.”
“Listen Schettino,” the Coast Guard replied. “There are people trapped on board. … You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?”
The captain said he wasn’t refusing, but that it was too dark, and he couldn’t see anything.”