Costa Concordia Captain's Sentence Upheld by Italy Court


The five persons may have accepted a plea bargain because:

  • At this time, they knew very well Schettino’s defense strategy, i.e. to discharge all his errors on the others.
  • Under these circumstances, the outcome of a trial is always a gamble.
  • In Italy, prison terms of less than three years are rarely spent in jail. Less than 2 years are mostly probational, and a third year is under house arrest.

Even Schettino proposed a plea bargain, three years and 3 months. The attorney did not accept!


I don’t really understand the logic of the legal system but the helmsman’s situation isn’t that different from the captain’s. I’ve seen that mistake before when the danger lies to port putting the rudder to port seems counterintuitive. Someone should have been watching the helmsman more closely. But who hired and promoted the captain? Or set up the procedures for him to use? Why wasn’t someone watching the captain more closely?


The Captain’s actions directly lead to the grounding of the vessel.

The Helmsman’s actions probably had no net impact on the end result. It could easily be proved in a simulator, but had he steered the right way for 8 seconds 4 minutes before the grounding, the ship would probably still have gone aground.

I guess the Costa Cruises human resources department have some culpability for promoting to Captain someone who appears to be incompetent, semi-retarded and arrogant. If they had some rigorous IQ and personality tests in place this probably wouldn’t have happened.

#24[quote=“spork, post:23, topic:44919”]
The Helmsman’s actions probably had no net impact on the end result. It could easily be proved in a simulator, but had he steered the right way for 8 seconds 4 minutes before the grounding, the ship would probably still have gone aground.
Not entirely clear what is being said here but evidently the court was told otherwise. This is from the link provided by Gryhpe:

it appeared that the simulations carried out indicate that had the last order to starboard been avoided then the ship would have passed clear of the rocks. This view is certainly born out by the fact that finally the Captain ordered hard to port to clear the stern, but the helmsman put the rudders over to starboard.

Either way I agree that the helmsman should not have been found to blame. The crew should have been following a plan that allowed sufficient margin for errors.


Maybe he spent time as an observer on a Washington State Ferry.

How come so many people are calling the guy “arrogant, incompetent, low-life, coward, and retarded” and ragging on the shoreside management for lack of supervision?

If this happened in Puget Sound I wonder if a lot of people here would blame the rock.


But handsome and social in a charming Italian way. That MAY have accounted for something in the evaluation of his suitability as Master on a Cruiseship.
BTW; Doesn’t most Cruise ships have a Staff Captain that alternatively handle the social part for an introvert Master, or do much of the other duties for a Schettino-type Master??


Yes, on the Concordia were even two staff captains, the official one, outgoing at the next port, and the incoming one.
On a cruise ship, the captain is not only master of the ship, but also the overall chief of a floating town.

Reading the different expert papers to the court and the sentences, I think there was a really bad atmosphere on the bridge, a sort of dictatorship (only referring to the VDR-recordings before the crash, before Schettino became crazy).

Eight minutes before the crash:
Schettino talked on the phone with the retired captain Palombo, living on Giglio and the real reason for approaching the island (when Schettino started his career at Costa, Palombo was his captain).

From the VDR: At one point during this phone call, Schettino exclaims ‘…oh, you [Palombo] are not at Giglio, you are on the continent…’, then a male voice on the bridge repeats this exclamation… followed by a general laughter.

Then Schettino asked the far away Palombo if there is enough water 0.3/0.4 NM off the coast…


Even if regulatory wise he somehow manages to get his ticket back or hold on to it, you honestly think someone would hire him? No matter how good of a bullshitter he is the stench will follow him forever.

As someone else pointed out, he’ll probably end up well off from book royalties or something else of that nature. Hell, maybe he’ll end up having his own L and M course.


The helmsman was Indonesian, 2 years probation and one year under house arrest in Italy living off the state would probably give him a far better quality of life than earning $500 per month on a cruise ship getting barked orders by some arrogant cunt, perhaps he was happy to plea guilt even though he did fuck all wrong.


I agree that the helmsman should not be punished, but as far as doing something wrong, clearly he did. He was given a helm command to put the wheel to port but he put the wheel to starboard. That’s wrong.

I don’t understand the logic of the legal system but as a guide it seems the amount of punishment can be roughly correlated with how angry an uninformed layman would feel. Most mariners on the other hand understand the situation in which the helmsman found himself.

Mariners however seem angry at the captain but not at anyone shoreside.


Almost every human resource department I’ve come across has been staffed by some young attractive female who has no actually understanding how ships work. They just recruit whoever has the sleekest personality and best bullshiting resume. Companies have some blame by leaving the responsibility of crewing ships to people who have no idea about ships.

For recruitment there should be some actual standardized empirical testing on ship knowledge, IQ, personality and english language knowledge.


I feel sorry for Schettino. My shipowners always helped their Masters to sort out stupid accidents being posted to the office for a while (o assist me). Re the wreck plenty of it is still available to see in drydock. I have suggested that it is made into a _wrec_k museum! .


Wow, I just see him back as a third mate on a pleasure cruiser. Pulling some stories better than Harkins in Vietnam. We will dearly miss him.


I’m disappointed a the tone of the above comments. We are professional mariners yes?

“Low Life” ??? “Captain Coward”, “mental case”, gun to the back of the “head” etc, really ???

Yes_ the GCaptain copy is poor again, (as commented before), it appears to be taken from a tabloid paper - certainly not by a maritime professional writer (shipmaster, or engineer).

Yes - the Captain’s professional conduct on board the Concordia, prior to and after the incident was very poor. I have no doubt he was traumatised, and unable to do anything.

No - he should not be facing the court alone, his employers bear an enormous burden of liability, which they appear to have been able to buy off for a mere $1M !!!?
The Company should have had procedures for minimum passage depth, minimum passage distance off land, course departures/ choices signed off by two officers, departure alarms relayed to a shore control base, etc.
Yes - S. Schettino did NO steering of the ship anywhere after the incident, it was the evening breeze that saved maybe 2000 or more lives.
The incident highlights a great many things wrong with the maritime safety regime, and I hope that maritime colleges all over the world are studying the incident and its ramifications.
Getting 3000 passengers into lifeboats in a short time, is quite honestly a forlorn hope and therefore a great lie to pretend it can reasonably be done, and that this represents a “safety net” for the shipping industry!

When was the last time professional mariners were picked up in the ocean, from a lifeboat, after their vessel had sank??

Even for professionals, it is quite a task, and they are supposed to practise it monthly !!! There are more mariners killed in lifeboat drills than are saved by them - yes/no ???
The cruise industry is skating on thin ice and its only a matter of time before we have a similar incident to Concordia, and this time there will be 3000 swimming in the ocean.
There is still no significant protection against the “drive-by” rock or iceberg strike, opening three or more hull compartments to flooding. The vessel WILL sink thereafter.
Over to you.


We all know accidents or happenings in one way or another which gave us the creeps and keep us thinking.

This is a burnt out cargo hold of MSC Flaminia . And we all know how helpful ports and authorities are especially if you are under another flag.
We all know that in case of a major accident or fire experienced crews might get off with minor casualties but cruise liners will suffer at least 30 % dead or drowned or trampled flat. But we cannot raise voices because we cannot predict or prove it. We may open another thread and asking experts why ships are carrying 8000 people and we never did a rescue test to get them all off in calm waters with 45 degrees list . If Carnival would produce a stunt like that I would bow my head.


We could also ask why IMO SOLAS only require large cruise ships to cover 37.5% of the total complement by lifeboats ON EACH SIDE, with the rest in liferafts? (But only up to 50% each side):
Does Cruise ships (with up to >9000 people on board) always sink on an even keel, or have fires burning away from escape routes to muster stations?

Cargo ships and other vessels are required to cover 100% in lifeboats on each side. (unless the have one free fall lifeboat at the stern, or are exempt from carrying lifeboats)
They are also required to carry liferaft for 100% :

I can appreciate that Seafarers are more worth than Cruise passengers, but they are the ones usually designated for the liferafts on Cruise ships, I believe?

The theory that “a ship is its own best lifeboat” is true in many cases, as proven by the many who dies while being evacuated unnecessarily from vessels that does not sink, or burn out,

“Safe Return to Port” is the mantra for Cruise ships, which is also fine, but MAY NOT always work.

You have to be prepared for the day when none of that is the case and you are outside reach of a fleet of helicopters.


An interesting article – Part one Unsafe at any draft from another tread.

The ship sank, lives were lost – and Costa Crociere, who should have been held up to blistering ridicule and contempt, having failed to establish a safe system for doing so by way of the Safety Management System that the IMO requires of them, were let off the hook for a payment of a derisory – a contemptible – million dollars.

Effective use of the magician’s misdirection., can’t really blame the public for not knowing, posters here on this professional mariners forum have been piling on


Yes_ the GCaptain copy is poor again, (as commented before), it appears to be taken from a tabloid paper - certainly not by a maritime professional writer (shipmaster, or engineer).
I’m disappointed a the tone of the above comments. We are professional mariners yes? “Low Life” ??? “Captain Coward”, “mental case”, gun to the back of the “head” etc, really ???

As for your first point… there isn’t very much new information to write about which hasn’t been said many times in the past few years. I am a liscensed shipmaster and I did review the article before publishing and I did not find anything to add… unless I’m missing something.

As for the second… yes there certainly where negative comments in the forum but plently of supportive ones too which is the reason why Francesco Schettino dedicated a few pages of his book to thanking gCaptain and is also the reason why I have a signed copy, along with a personal letter of thanks, on my bookshelve.


The CC Abandon ship was strange. After mustering the passengers should in principle use the lifeboats and the catering staff should use the life rafts but no life rafts were launched at all. Six lifeboat davits malfunctioned at the beginning and three of them failed completely. The result was that the catering staff used the lifeboats leaving plenty passengers aboard. However, as the port of refuge was close some lifeboats could return to the sinking ship and carry a new lot of people ashore from the sinking ship. They could board the lifeboats from open deck 3 on starboard side that were in the waterline of the heeling ship.Pure luck! Actually the ship had no system at all for mustering passengers and staff. Anyway, the ship suddenly capsized leaving >400 persons on the port side to await being picked up by assisting boats.
Even more strange was the 44° starboard turn ending in the accidental contact. The turn should have taken 2 minutes but it took 6 minutes … and nobody knows why and how it took so long. I describe more at . The ship lost stability due to progressive flooding through open watertight doors that were illegal in the first place. The ship was incorrectly designed and certified. The sister ships are similar.



Im glad to hear Captain Schettino received support from GCaptain.

Have you heard of Captain van Wijnen and the Captains Association Federation ?

I attended a talk given by him here in Cork. He advocates for the association and its assistance given to CSchettino

and other shipmasters who find themselves in similar difficulty.

I rest my case, the article appears to have been was taken from a newspaper in Rome and written by a Crispin Balmer.

“Schettino’s defense team contended that he prevented an even worse disaster

by steering the ship close to the island as it sank”.

I think we all know, the Captain did not steer the vessel ANYWHERE after the contact with rocks,

the vessel was dead ship, except for a small emergency genset which also failed at times.

“The massive, rusting hulk of the Costa Concordia was left abandoned on its side for two-and-a-half years…”

The wreck could never have been described as “abandoned” …

I apologise for criticizing, as it was my (obviously mistaken) belief that the copy in GCaptain was all written by marine professionals,

for marine professionals.

Perhaps this is naive on my part.

I certainly enjoy reading many of the stories featured, and I commend you and your team for an excellent website.

Captain Anders Bjorkman sounds like a colourful character, but he is right.

Those large cruise ships are a disaster waiting to happen.

They are too big to build safely and accurately (every single bulkhead opening sealed closed ??? really)

Too big to Survey accurately,

Too big to verify SOLAS, SMS, etc,

Too big and complicated to run and manage accurately and efficiently

      (is “just about getting by” an adequate or acceptable standard ???)

They are certainly too big to rescue,

So presumably we just wait for the day ??


Mike Dixon