A Chilling Conversation

Freeze Frame of Coast Guard video of Capsized Cruise Liner Costa Concordia.

Dear Blog Readers– The AP office in Rome has been a bit busy the past few days covering the story of the Costa Concordia Cruise ship that came too close to the Giglio Island, off the coast of Tuscany, hit some rocks and capsized Friday night.  Rescuers found five more bodies today bringing the total dead to eleven and they are still searching for  some 19 more missing people, among them Americans, Germans, Italians, French, a Hungarian, an Indian and a Peruvian.   There were over 4,000 people on the Cruise liner when it hit the rocks. Today divers were blasting holes in the side of the ship to get more access to areas below water level.

AP has had some 10 people covering the story.  My Mamma duties did not allow me to go cover this one, always a problem on breaking news, although this story is far from over.  It is a race against time to find the missing people so they can begin to pump out the 2300 tons of fuel in the ship’s tanks.  Officials say if the sea gets too rough, and the ship gets battered around, the fuel could leak out creating an environmental disaster.

In Rome we have been getting dramatic video from the Italian Coast Guard and Italian Firefighters as they continue their desperate attempts to get to the place in the ship below the water level.  Among my duties today was translating a chilling conversation between the Captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino and the Coast Guard Commander in the nearby coastal town of Livorno.  Most of us have heard the phrase “the Captain goes down with the ship.”  In this case, Captain Schettino left the ship in a lifeboat while dozens of people were still on board.  Below is my translation of that dramatic conversation when the Coast Guard Commander got in touch with him.

Freeze frame of Infrared Night video shot by Italian Coast Guard of passengers evacuating capsized cruise liner.

Conversation between Coast Guard  Commander Capt. Gregorio De Falco in Livorno with Cruise Liner Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino

De Falco: «This is De Falco speaking from Livorno, am I speaking with the commander?”

Schettino: «Yes, good evening Commander De Falco.”

De Falco: «Please tell me your name»

Schettino: «I’m commander Schettino, commander»

De Falco: «Schettino? Listen Schettino. There are people trapped on board. Now you go with your boat under the prow on starboard. There is a pilot ladder. You will climb that ladder and go on board. You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear? I’m recording this conversation, Commander Schettino…».

Schettino: «Commander, I tell you one thing…»

De Falco: “Speak up! Put your hand in front of the microphone and speak more loudly, is that clear?”

Schettino: «In this moment, the ship is tipping”

De Falco: «I understand that,listen, there are people that are coming down the pilot ladder of the prow. You go up that pilot ladder, get on that ship and tell me how many people are still on board.  Is that clear? You need to tell me if there are children, women or people in need of assistance.  And tell me the exact number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Listen Schettino, that you’ve saved yourself from the sea, but I am going to…really do something bad to you…I am going to make you pay for this.  Go on board, fuck!

Schettino: «Commander, please…”

De Falco: «No, please…you now get up and go on board.  They are telling me that on board there are still….

Schettino: «I am here with the rescue boats, I am here, I am not going anywhere, I am here….”

De Falco: «What are you doing commander?”

Schettino: «I am here to coordinate the rescue…”

De Falco: «What are you coordinating there?  Go on Board!  Coordinate the rescue from aboard the ship.  Are you refusing?”

Schettino: «No, I am not refusing.”

De Falco: «Are you refusing to go aboard commander?? Can you tell me the reason why you are not going?”

Schettino: «I am not going because the other lifeboat is stopped.”

De Falco: «You go aboard.  It is an order.  Don’t make any more excuses.  You have declared the abandon ship, now I am in charge.  You go on board!  Is that clear!  Do you hear me? Go, and call me when you are aboard.   My air rescue crew is there.”

Schettino: «Where are your rescuers?”

De Falco: «My air rescue is on the prow.  Go. There are already cadavers Schettino.”

Schettino: «How many cadavers are there?”

De Falco: «I don’t know. I have heard of one.  You are the one who has to tell me how many there are, Christ.”

Schettino: «But do you realize it is dark and here we can’t see anything…”

De Falco: «And so what, you want go home Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the ship using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!”

Schettino: «(…) I am with my second in command.”

De Falco: «So both of you go up then (….) You and your second go on board now.  Is that clear?”

Schettino: «Commander, I want to go on board, but it is simply that the other boat here….there are other rescuers, it has stopped and is waiting there, no I called other rescuers…”

De Falco: «It is an hour you are telling me the same thing.  Now, go on board.  Go on BOARD!!! And then tell me immediately how many people there are there.”

Schettino: «Ok Commander»

De Falco: «Go, immediately!»

Captain Shettino has now been charged with manslaughter, abandoning his ship during an evacuation and causing a shipwreck.  From the audio tape, it seems pretty clear he has blood on his hands.
If anyone wants to hear the dramatic conversation in Italian here is the link:


Post in: Italiano


  1. Avatar
    Rebecca Crosby Butler

    Thank you so much for writing about this. My husband and I have been glued to the tv tonight and checking online at work and listening to it on the radio. It’s a huge story here. It’s heartbreaking and maddening! Thank you for translating everything. The stupidity and selfishness involved in this tragedy is crazy!

  2. Avatar

    Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved. It’s so sad to see the beautiful ship overturned and the dear people aboard doing their best to get off the ship. I pray that those who are missing will be rescued.

  3. Avatar

    Again, thank you for your good info. This is one riveting tale. It is dominating the news here in Los Angeles. What an truly awful situation. And the ship’s captain is an embarrassment, at best, to all good captains.


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