Monday, January 16, 2012

Costa Concordia cruise ship captain claims rocks were not on the map

Captain Francesco Schettin, who is being questioned on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, claimed yesterday
that the reef had not appeared on his nautical charts and had not been picked up by the ship's navigation systems.

From TheTelegraph

The Costa Concordia's captain claims that the rocks his 114,500-tonne ship hit off the Italian coast were not marked on the map, and that he had had to act quickly under pressure to ensure the safety of the passengers.

The 52-year-old Master is under arrest and accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship, according to Italian police.
In an interview with Italian television, the captain defended his reaction after the Costa Concordia hit the submerged rocks.
"In such a particular moment you need decision-making and to understand with lucidity what the best alternative is. In fact, I believe almost all the passengers have been rescued," he said.

'Le Scole' rock

source : Roberto Vongher
or more probably some underwater seaward rock extension

source : 1yachtua

Mr Schettino said the rocks were not marked on any maritime charts of the area.

Le Scole reef (at second plan of the picture) close to the Giglio harbour

"Even though we were sailing along the coast with the tourist navigation system I firmly believe that the rocks were not detected as the ship was not heading forward but sideways as if underwater there was this rock projection".

Mr Schettino denied changing the course of the ship.
He said the underwater rocks the cruise liner hit were not detected by the vessel’s multi-million-pound navigation system.
“The area was safe, the water was deep enough,” he said.
“We struck a stretch of rock that was not marked on the charts.
“As faras I am concerned, we were in perfectly navigable waters.
We were moving with a tourist navigation system, and as you can see by the rip (in the ship) there was a lateral rock ­projection.
“On the nautical chart, it was marked just as water at 100-150 metres from the rocks and we were about 300 meters from the shore.
We shouldn’t have had this contact.”
(source : DailyRecord)

Embedded rock in the second half of the port hull - see pictures -
probably because the ship, running fast and changing her course to avoid Le Scole reef,
making a turning circle during her move to starboard,
drifted with the stern
(tendency of the ship to make 'leeway' as she turned to starboard, drifting eastward)

Hypothesis of the 'Le Scole' outside rock hitting
Question : why was a vessel drawing 27ft (8m2) attempting to pass a ship's length from a rocky shore ?

Passengers, who compared the disaster to the movie "Titanic", told of people leaping into the sea and fighting over lifejackets in panic when the ship ran aground near the island of Giglio.

Underwater images

State prosecutor Francesco Verusio said investigations might go beyond the captain.
Magistrates said Mr Schettino, whose ship was carrying 4,229 passengers and crew, abandoned the vessel before all the passengers were taken off.

Captain Francesco Schettino on the bridge

But the captain insisted he waited for all the passengers to be evacuated before leaving the ship.
"We were the last to leave the ship," he said.

Links :


  1. CNN : Search suspended after stricken Italian cruise ship moves
    The shipping industry newspaper Lloyd's List reported that Friday was not the first time the Costa Concordia steamed extremely close to shore near Giglio.
    Satellite tracking data obtained by the paper shows that the ship passed within 230 meters of the coast of the island at least once before -- even closer than the location where the Costa Concordia hit the rocks this weekend.
    The pass happened on August 14, 2011, Lloyd's list reported.

  2. BBC : Concordia disaster: House arrest for Captain Schettino
    Nautical charts
    Meanwhile, Lloyd's List says the issue of which nautical charts the captain of the vessel was using looks likely to be critical to his defence if he does face a criminal prosecution.
    The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has issued a statement declining to comment on whether its charts were being used. No rocks are shown on the UKHO's chart at the position where the Costa Concordia sank.
    The UKHO points out that its charts are only at the 1:300,000 scale and that Italian charts are available on a much larger scale.
    "It should be noted that this small scale chart is considered to be unsuitable for close inshore navigation," the UKHO told Lloyds.

    BBC : Costa Concordia's previous near miss
    'Near miss' :
    Meanwhile, satellite tracking information given to the BBC by the shipping journal, Lloyd's List Intelligence, shows that the Costa Concordia sailed closer to Giglio island on a cruise last August than it did on its disastrous voyage on Friday.
    Lloyd's List told the BBC that the vessel passed within 230m of the island on 14 August 2011 to mark La Notte di San Lorenzo - the night of the shooting stars festival on the island.
    The route deviation on that occasion had been authorised by Costa Cruises - the company which owns the vessel.
    Lloyd's List has published data suggesting a near miss occurred in a very similar location in August
    The company said on Monday that the ship was never closer than 500m to the coast when it passed on 14 August.
    Lloyd's List describes that occasion as a "near miss" and says the ship's route would have been less than 200m away from the point of collision on Friday's voyage.
    Costa Cruises said on Monday that the route deviation last Friday had been "unauthorised, unapproved and unknown to Costa".
    But Richard Meade, the Editor of Lloyd's List, said: "The company's account of what happened, of the rogue master [Capt Schettino] taking a bad decision, isn't quite as black and white as they presented originally."
    "This ship took a very similar route only a few months previously and the master would have known that."
    Costa Cruises says it is looking into the claims, but stands by the statement it gave on Monday.