The Cost of Concordia

If someone is up for a totally not serious take on a rather silly if serious accident, Internet Historian put out this mockumentary. Like all his work, it is impeccably researched and nails it pretty good:


The graphic at 1 min 52 shows that Schettino started off as a Security Guard then worked his way up through the security department, then somehow jumped from being Chief Security Officer to being Master.

When you try and research his early maritime career a lot of articles are ambiguous and vague and don’t do into much detail.

Did investigators ever actually look into how he managed to become a Master without having worked his way up through the Deck department?

Imagine the head of the catering department suddenly becoming the Master of the ship, that is similarly absurd as the Chief Security Officer becoming Master. It is very strange that someone with no relevant experience would get such an important position.

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IDK, maybe his good friend @Heiwa can shed some light on that?


According to Wikipedia Schettino graduated from maritime school and went to work for a ferry company before switching to a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise.

I would guess that someone unfamiliar with the maritime community saw the “Ship Security Officer” title and assumed that meant a security guard, when in reality the Staff Captain is generally SSO onboard cruise ships.


The Costa Concordia incident is a strange story and the mockumentary ( describes it well. Anyway, after striking the rock only 32 persons died and the ship remained on the rock, so that it could be re-floated and re-cycled at underwriters expense (Costa Concordia recycling 2014-2024 at Genoa after refloating at and removal from Isola del Giglio 2014... full of cocaine. 2 August2020) at Genoa. And then, finally the ship was finally sunk AGAIN! My friend Schettino is apparently still in jail … but who knows.

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He attended the nautical institute Nino Bixio in Piano di Sorrento,[3] then worked for the ferry company Tirrenia.

I saw that but it doesn’t say he graduated and it doesn’t say what he did there.

He could have just gone there to do basic STCW short courses.

It doesn’t say what he did for the ferry company, he could have done anything for them.

There seems to be a suspicious lack of detail about what his actual qualifications are and what he actually did during his career.

If he was a paper captain, @Heiwa would know. They’re buddies.


@Heiwa is of course very familiar with maritime disasters and loss of life. After all, he was the consulting naval architect who convinced an Egyptian shipowner that a 30-year-old Italian ferry built for domestic service was “very robust and safe”. Knowing the characteristics of old ro-ro passenger ships, I’m not surprised that the Italian owners were very happy to get rid of them before something bad happened sell their “very good ships” for the Red Sea pilgrim run, a typical final route for many European ferries before a one-way trip to Alang. When one of those overly top-heavy ferries then sank few years later with a loss of over 1000 lives, @Heiwa could not explain how something like that could ever happen. Knowing his limited understanding of ship stability and physics in general, and his penchant for conspiracy theories, it’s no wonder he - once again - suspected foul play rather than, say, loss of stability due to free surface effect on the car deck and reduced initial stability post-conversion coupled with the generally poor safety culture in that part of the world.

And I shit you not; it’s all on his website.

I’m somewhat surprised that he didn’t mention how the hull of Costa Concordia was filled with human excrement when it was brought to the dry dock for scrapping. This coprophiliac comment comes up sooner or later when discussing the salvage operation.

He also spent some years with Agip, the parent company for ENI and Saipem between those two.

Has it struck somebody that this was an Italian Master on and Italian ship.
Do you really believe that they allow someone without a proper Italian CoC to command one of the largest Italian flag Cruise ships?

Beside, he would have called at “numerous” ports in his 6 years in command of cruise ships (Maybe incl. US ports??) and been through PSC many times.
Nobody checked his credentials.


Schettino, no doubt he was found guilty of many things. Fraudulent certification was not one of them.

Now an industry and national embarrassment after one of the most infamous Maritime F ups in history.
Everything I heard at the time. Prior to the incident he was well regarded by most colleagues and his employers.
While who you know and who you are prepared to blow, may play a role in the appointment of Masters on Cruise ships.
I expect presentation of the Company Image, Public Relations in addition to general competence and at least apparent adherence to Company Policy, is very important. Along with actually having the required certification.

Which only proves, some otherwise well qualified smart people, Still do stupid shit, for stupid reasons.


In the past I enjoyed cruising in the sun eating good food and caviar, sipping champagne for breakfast, enjoying a Broadway onboard show, etc. The European officers were smart in their white uniforms and liked it too. Their job was to keep the white, American passengers (pax) happy. But it was 40 years ago. 800 pax paid USD 500 per night and were entertained by 20 officers of all kind. Then came cheap luxury (?) cruising for 6000 pax paying USD 50 per night but still entertained by 20 officers. + a crew of 1000 underpaid slaves cleaning toilets and pots and pans. What a stupid show. The pax thought they were rich. Now with the Pandemic show going most such cruise shit ships are laid up and the crew is unemployed in some Asian jungle.

Does anyone think, the victims’ lawyers would not have seen fake qualifications of Schettino as a gift, with the consequent responsibility of Costa/Carnival? Class actions against the company in the USA would have been much more productive for their clients, and indeed for themselves.

After 9 years, a lot of information is lost in the web. However, the court sentence does not mention a single missing qualification of a crewmember.

Schettino worked in 1999 for the new ‘Renaissance Cruises’ of Fort Lauderdale (bankrupt after 9/11), first as Security-Officer, then as ‘vice-captain’ (a specific cruise ship grade). The same promotion he had, when he entered Costa in 2002.
I think, these Security-Officers were initial shore side jobs, fleet wide.

I don’t think there’s much question that the man had his MMC in order. The question is whether ther was a gap between formal and practical competence, as we say in Norwegian. I think someone else on here once pointed out that on cruise ships, navigation is largely handled by the mates, whereas the Master has a purely administrative role, concerned with keeping the three departments working together. There is also the suggestion that some cruise ship captains are mere figureheads, and that the most relevant skill for such postings is handling yourself at a cocktail party.

The answers to these questions as pertaining to the Costa Concordia are at least partially borne out in the sequence of events.

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Schettino is one of the most infamous seafarers in modern times, by now you would think almost his entire sea service history would be in the public domain so it can be scrutinized, yet there is only vague information available which leads to documentaries like this one probably getting it wrong. As you say maybe he didn’t have much navigational experience on a cruise ship, maybe he was promoted too quickly.

People say fraudulently certification is not possible, but the USA is supposed to be the one of the most developed and advanced countries on the planet and yet there was a scandal there recently about people obtaining fraudulent certification. If it can still happen in the USA today it could be happening anywhere.

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When I was in the 5* cruise biz one question was laundry. Who should wash and iron it aboard? The answer was easy. The Chinese! So on all my cruise ships plenty Chinese washed the dirty laundry of the passengers. They had their own quarters and kitchen/dining room and it worked fine. They were of course part of the crew. And the owner provided the washing machines, etc. I always wonder what happened to the Chinese on Costa Concordia. Aha, they had left ….

I made a couple of voyages on the old Maasdam and Rijndam of the Holland America Line. We always had two captains on board, one being the real captain in command of the ship and a second one for entertainment of the passengers. Those party boy captains were selected for looks and communication capabilities. It was a sought after occupation among captains, a luxury lifestyle, no responsibilities and screwing around for free. Schettino had his Moldavian dancer who even was on the bridge during the fatal hit on the rocks. Speaking of distraction… The HAL was of the opinion that a captain should focus on the ship and the navigation and that passengers entertainment didn’t mix well with these items.

I soon quit because this was not my idea of life at sea on board a fun fair attraction.


Don’t know much about cruise ships but I thought the staff captain is the rank below the captain and would be the position held before promotion to captain.

More or less the same duties of the Chief mate but with a cargo of passengers…


You’re correct that Staff Captain, or Deputy Captain on some lines, is one rank below the captain. Still a navigational officer with all the appropriate certificates (Unlimited Master), but the day-to-day responsibilities are running the administration of the ship. Generally the Captain or Staff Captain has the “charge” during maneuvering in restricted water. Many lines have a Chief Officer or Safety Officer who fills more of the Chief Mate duties as far as the deck department goes.

Disclaimer: I’ve only worked with the Big 3 and Disney, so smaller lines may have different arrangements.