Is Bruce Ismay Back as Francesco Schettino?

By Karen

Cats Working has never covered cruise travel, but the capsizing of Costa Concordia has been dominating the news. As a veteran of nearly 40 cruises, I have to weigh in.

I think Captain Francesco Schettino is the reincarnation of Bruce Ismay.

Ismay was the managing director of the White Star Line. He was on Titanic’s maiden voyage, demanding she make record time to New York in spite of numerous warnings of ice ahead. We all know how that turned out.

Ismay jumped into a lifeboat while women and children were drowning, and spent the rest of his life in disgrace, regretting he survived.

In Schettino’s case, it may turn out that his u-turn into the shallows after his ship was gashed open and took a huge boulder in the gut may have saved the lives of those who were able to swim to shore.

But his quick thinking in that one moment is negated by the arrogance that led him to deliberately endanger the vessel in the first place. And he’s been lying about every action he took ever since.

He’s claimed he did it to honor a retired captain, Mario Polombo, who lives on the island of Giglio, and that they were on the phone together when the ship hit the rocks.

Polombo has said he wasn’t on the island that night. Wouldn’t he have mentioned that to Schettino?

What Schettino hasn’t said is that he also did it to impress a maître d’ from Giglio. Probably unbeknownst to Schettino, the maître d’s sister posted on Facebook in the hour before that the ship would come really close.

When the ship began to founder, Schettino claimed at first that he was thrown overboard.

If so, he must have climbed back onboard, because he told a judge in court Tuesday that he was helping passengers into a lifeboat when he tripped and fell into the lifeboat himself.

The lifeboats aren’t open like those on Titanic. They have roofs. It’s hard to imagine someone tripping into one. Not to mention that Schettino’s 2nd and 3rd in command happened to trip into the same boat with him.

And we’ve probably all heard the conversation between Schettino and Coast Guard Captain De Falco where Schettino suddenly turned dumb about how to board his ship.

In all the picture’s we’ve seen of Schettino, he’s wearing a dark sweater and coat — civvies. What happened to his uniform? Was he given dry clothes on shore because he’d been in the water? Or did he return to his cabin to change because he didn’t want to stand out with his 4 stripes while his ship was erupting into pandemonium?

Costa initially supported Schettino, while admitting human error was involved. But if worldwide outrage makes them ultimately let the Italian courts have their way with Schettino, who could blame them?

An excellent site for following developments in this story, often before the media knows them, is A CC member from Australia who survived the capsizing provided a thorough report of her experience the very next morning, and you’ll find many links to international news stories. You don’t have to join it to read.

Concordia passengers have been comparing this to Titanic, and it’s a fair assessment as far as their terror goes, but the loss of 11 lives (or 34, if the 23 who remain missing didn’t make it) is a far cry from a tragedy where only a third of the souls onboard managed to survive, and the rest drowned in waters over 2 miles deep.

7 Responses to Is Bruce Ismay Back as Francesco Schettino?

  1. “it’s hard to imagine tripping into one….” What I just want to know is WHAT drugs was that Captain on? Really, he couldn’t have been thinking clearly because did he really think he could get off scot-free in any of this? A capsized cruise ship is pretty hard to miss, especially when it’s just off the coast of Italy! -_-

  2. catsworking says:

    Welcome, thespectatorsport! It’s been widely reported that Schettino was seen having dinner and wine with an attractive blonde before the collision with the rock. And that she was on the bridge with him when he hit the rock. He was allegedly talking on his cell phone during the crash, and for a good hour afterward. One of his chief officers went below and found the engine and generator rooms flooded, called the bridge to report it, but couldn’t get through to the captain because he was yakking. It also kept Schettino from giving the “abandon ship” order.

    A crew member has reported that the ship stayed upright for a good 40 minutes after the initial collision, long enough to have launched all the lifeboats on both sides if the order to abandon ship had been made promptly and passengers herded along by competent crew. Instead, Schettino decided to make that u-turn, which caused the ship to take on water faster, which destroyed its balance and caused it to keel over.

    They’re talking about a federal law to ban cell phone use while driving. Maybe they should expand it to include when commanding cruise ships. Not that it would have helped in this case, since Concordia is an Italian ship.

  3. J. G. Burdette says:

    “It’s hard to imagine someone tripping into one. Not to mention that Schettino’s 2nd and 3rd in command happened to trip into the same boat with him.”

    Same here. If it wasn’t for all the people dead because of Schettino, his excuse would almost be funny.

  4. catsworking says:

    Welcome, J.G.! I’ve been reading more accounts, and now they’re saying he tripped and fell into one of the life RAFTS, which is more plausible because they are open. However, since I think the rafts weren’t on davits and were just pushed down the side of the listing ship (you see some of them lying on the hull in some pictures), one would assume they had to go into the water empty because they’d have been too heavy to move full, and it’s unlikely people would have wanted to “sled” in a raft down into the water. I guess people who jumped could have climbed into them from the water or possibly climbed down into them from rope ladders thrown down from the ship. Either way, Schettino couldn’t have been helping them get in.

  5. catsworking says:

    I was reading one forum where someone made the good point that Schettino should have been kept in jail because, now under house arrest, he could be on the phone with all the other officers, coordinating alibis. The prosecution also thinks he’s a flight risk. If he could waltz away from a shipwreck where some of his passengers were drowning, skipping out on a court date should be a cinch.

  6. MorganLF says:

    Much has been made of the Schettino’s appearance, the deep tan, crisp white captains shirt opened just low enough to reveal his “manly chest hair”. The silly too long marcelled waves of hair cascading past his collar, it points to a specific personality profile:

    The aging, overly hairy, self-styled playboy, fat-bellied, speedo wearing, married, preening, cheesy, douche bag.

    It’s all too much, his wife issuing a statement of sympathy to the victim’s families, the 25 year old hostess/pole dancer/ dinner companion rushing to his defense. The hubris of his version of events.

    You couldn’t write a more ludicrous character, “The Amorous Adventures of Captain Peacock” it writes itself.

    Hysterically funny, except for one thing,this crybaby son-of-a bitch is responsible 12 deaths and counting. He had no excuse, none for leaving that boat when he did, disgrazia!

  7. catsworking says:

    Morgan, your profile is priceless! The uniform with 4 stripes has turned even more unappealing men into chick magnets.

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall for his house arrest. Now that the mystery woman has been tracked down and is talking to the media, I’d say Mrs. Schettino is making things very interesting for him.

    I heard somewhere that’s he’s now willing to accept responsibility for the accident. Sitting in a quiet jail is probably preferable to listening to the missus. I also heard that Costa fired him earlier this week and won’t be paying for his defense, but that’s unconfirmed.

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