Captain of the ‘vada aboard, cazzo’, ten years later, lives in prison and under rumors of depression

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“Get back to the ship, f*ck!” The famous phrase that printed t-shirts and fueled memes like “keep calm and vada aboard, cazzo!” (keep calm and…), said to the then captain Francesco Schettino, appointed as responsible for the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise, in Italy, turns ten this Thursday (13).

At 61, Schettino is serving a 16-year sentence in a prison in Rome, and his prison life is full of curious rumours, such as an alleged request for a bottle of seawater, for missing the breeze.

In a recent report published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the former captain appears as an exemplary inmate, who studies journalism and law and is kind and respectful to everyone. He also dedicates himself to sports and awaits the return of his daughter Rossella’s visits, suspended due to Covid.

There are also reports that Schettino would be depressed, afraid to turn on the TV and see what was broadcast about him. THE leaf lawyer Saverio Senese says that “the news is almost all false”. “It’s not true that he asks for sea water,” he says by email. “It’s true that he studies, plays sports and, above all, works.”

Sanese also says that, due to his behavior, Schettino has already received several authorizations to spend the day with his elderly mother – the former captain could already ask for the change to serve an alternative sentence, but he does not want his defense to enter the request. . The lawyer, who filed a request for a review of the sentence last year — not yet discussed — did not elaborate on why.

“He is responsible, but not guilty, for the deaths,” he says. “For him, [a tragédia] It was caused by a series of technical problems: the emergency generator, the watertight doors, the winches of some lifeboats that didn’t work, the elevator doors that didn’t close automatically”

Schettino’s sentence was determined in a 2015 trial, in which he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (with no intention to kill), responsibility for the sinking and abandoning the vessel before the rescue teams arrived – which generated the sentence of the Guard officer Coastal Gregorio De Falco.

From the beginning, the Costa Concordia case was turbulent. The cruise with 4,229 passengers was supposed to complete a seven-day itinerary between Civitavecchia, 70 km from Rome, and Savona, near Genoa.

The then captain, however, diverted the vessel to Giglio Island, taking the 114,500-ton ship 150 meters offshore. The maneuver caused the boat to hit rocks.

There are different versions of what motivated Schettino to bring the cruise so close to the small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. He says the idea was to greet locals and sailors, as well as offer passengers a beautiful landscape. Others, however, claim that he wanted to show off for his mistress, Domnica Cemortan.

Shortly after the incident, she denied having an affair with the then-captain and being in the flight deck at the time of the crash. A few weeks later, however, she admitted in deposition that she was in love and that she was with Schettino when the ship collided. At the end of 2013, at a hearing, he provided more details.

“Everything looked normal, I couldn’t see anything because it was too dark. At one point, an officer got confused while executing an order. Schettino criticized the officer and repeated the order. A few minutes later what happened happened. I didn’t feel the impact, but I saw emergency lights come on.”

The officer was the Indonesian helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin, named by Schettino as responsible for the disaster. At the time, the captain’s lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, even said that Schettino considered he had managed to save many lives by performing a difficult emergency maneuver with the anchors after the accident, which brought the boat closer to shore.

A review of the case by the History Channel, however, pointed out that the anchor was thrown incorrectly, and the boat tipped further. Furthermore, Schettino did not immediately alert the rescue service.

The impact occurred around 9:45 pm local time, and the first person to call authorities was someone on the coast. The ship was contacted around 10pm, but the captain took 20 minutes to tell them what happened. Meanwhile, passengers were having dinner when the light went out, a knock was felt and they fell to the ground. When power came back on, the captain announced breakdowns to the generator and ensured a quick fix, but some of the passengers noticed the boat starting to tip over.

The delay in the reaction was strongly criticized at the time by the commander-in-chief of the Italian Port Authority, Marco Brusco. “If Captain Schettino hadn’t lost a precious hour, everything would have been fine. All the lifeboats would be lowered smoothly with all the passengers on board. To top it off, the captain left the boat, and the orders that came were contradictory. .”

The former captain claimed that, with the tilt of the boat, he slipped and fell sitting on one of the boats and, therefore, left the ship before removing all the passengers. The version was refuted in a call to a friend, in which the captain said that when he noticed that the ship was tilting, he left.

When talking by phone with Schettino, the Coast Guard officer identified, from the answers about the situation on the vessel, that the then captain was no longer on the cruise. Then he gave the famous order, in good Italian. Schettino, however, got into a taxi and fled to a hotel.

Searches for the missing continued for weeks after the sinking, and the Costa Concordia remained on Giglio Island for another two and a half years, before being transported to Genoa.

Its captain, today, faces only the lull of prison.

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