The captain of the Costa Concordia was ordered by the port authority to return to his sinking ship after abandoning his crew and thousands of suffering passengers, according to transcripts of radio calls and telephone conversations released Tuesday.
According to The Guardian, the transcripts indicate that Captain Francesco Schettino claimed he would return to the ship to organize emergency operations. Instead, he instead walked from the rocks to the port of Giglio where he hailed a taxi and fled the scene of the disaster.
Mario Pellegrini, the deputy mayor of Giglio, boarded the stranded Costa Concordia at about 11 p.m. I then remained on board until 5am helping passengers leave. Although I asked for the officers I couldn't find one - and I never once saw the captain, he told The Guardian.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper claims the crew revolted against the captain. They began preparing the lifeboats 13 minutes before the order was given to abandon ship. They paper described the action by some of Schettino's officers as a kind of mutiny.
On Monday, the chief executive of Costa Cruises praised the crew. But Pellegrini added, The crew, many of whom did not speak English, were not professional. He said the only officials on board helping passengers escape was a ship's doctor.
Transcript Reveals Falsified Information
After hitting a rock off the coast of Giglio last Friday night, Costa Concordia Captain Schettino was radioed at 21.49 by the harbormaster's office in Livorno, a regional headquarters of the coastguard, reported The Guardian.
Everything OK? he was asked.
Affirmative, Schettino replied, saying the ship had suffered a small technical failure.
Five minutes later, the coastguard radioed in again. The second newspaper, Il Fatto Quotidiano, which did not provide a source for its information according to The Guardian, said the harbormaster's office had been told by the police that a call from a Costa Concordia passenger talking about a shipwreck.
The coastguard asked Schettino if the vessel was in trouble and to report it's position.
We've only got a technical problem and we're not able to [give the position], he replied. But as soon as it's resolved, we'll communicate [it] to you.
Further calls went unanswered until 00.32 when the coastguard reached Schettino by telephone.
They had been evacuating for 40 minutes at that point. The port authority asked how many people were still aboard.
Two, three hundred, Schettino replied.
Ten minutes later, the coastguard called again. According to Il Fatto, which had information from a local fire brigade commander, Schettino had already left his ship and was on the rocks at Punta Gabbianara.
The captain was again asked how many passengers were still aboard.
I've called the ship owners, and they tell me that about 40 people are missing, he replied.
So few? How is that possible? asked the coastguard, adding: But you're on board?
No. I'm not on board because the bows of the ship are coming up. We've abandoned her.
What do you mean? You've abandoned ship?
No. No way have I abandoned ship. I'm here, Schettino replied.
The final call occurred at 1.46 a.m. when the port authority told the captain, Right. You are now going back on board. You are going to go back up the rope ladder, return to the bridge and co-ordinate operations.
Silence followed, Il Fatto reported.
You must tell me how many people there are, the coastguard officer continued. How many passengers, women and children - and co-ordinate the rescue.
Schettino claimed he was assisting operations.
Captain, said the coastguard officer, this is an order. Now I am in command. You have declared the abandoning of a ship and are going to co-ordinate the rescue from the bridge. There are already dead bodies.
How many? asked Schettino.
You're the one who should be telling me that, said the port authority. What do you want to do? Go home? Now, go back up and tell me what can be done: how many people there are and what they need.
Alright, said Schettino. I'm going.
Schettino never returned to the ship. He was arrested on suspicion of multiple manslaughter charges and abandoning ship, though no official charges have yet been made.