Concordia Captain: 'OK, Whatever' as Ship Teeters: Video
UPDATE – Released Saturday, the second part of the video shows crew members failing to understand the gravity of the situation.
Laughing, they blow kisses, smoke, joke about the ship's growing tilt and say "I love you, mamma" and "we'll make it."
The evacuation brings an abrupt end to their laughter. Without any guidance, crew members begin to shout in panic as they struggle to release the lifeboats — a maneuver which they might have never carried out during the emergency simulations.
The film shows a passenger ending up into the water, a heavy metal gantry threatening a lifeboat, and the arrival of the rescued passengers at Giglio Porto while intermittent lights on the nearly capsized reveal that some passengers are still trapped there.
Feb. 11, 2012 — Dramatic video footage has emerged from the Costa Concordia's command deck showing the relaxed reaction of the cruise ship's captain in the crucial hour after it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Broadcast by the Mediaset network TG5 news show, the 9-minute video reveals, possibly better than the broken voyage data recorder (VDR), what really happened on January 13 on the bridge of the ship shortly after the catastrophic collision.
The film clearly shows a soft spoken, less than dynamic captain who waited a full hour before telling passengers to evacuate the stricken liner.
It opens with the command deck only illuminated by emergency lights. After the collision at 9:42 p.m., the power failed and senior members of the crew had just realized the devastating damage.
"Here everything is going to hell.. There is a hole, I believe…so water is coming in," a voice can be heard saying.
A man believed to be Captain Francesco Schettino then replies: "I've spoken to the control room and they say with two compartments flooded we should survive, there is no problem."
He continues: "Let's wait a bit more, so we make leeway toward more shallow waters. Then we can drop the anchor…at worst we can sit on the seabed. We shall see."
With the ship tilting at a 12-degree angle, and the deck crowded with too many people, no decision is made.
At 10:25 p.m., a man identified in the video as Schettino, is seen talking on the phone while a less calm officer is heard saying: "Commander, passengers are getting on lifeboats spontaneously!"
Schettino then replies. "Vabbuò," (meaning OK, whatever).
As Schettino appears unable to make any decision, an officer is heard asking: "Shall we give the general emergency signal?"
With the ship tilting at a 20-degree angle, confusion and panic begin to reign on the bridge.
"What shall we do? What shall we do?," an unnerved officer is heard shouting.
A voice replies: "General emergency," but the order to abandon ship is not given.
Instead the man believed to be Captain Schettino is heard saying: "Send tug boats please… very quickly."
For three long minutes, the officers did not receive any other instruction. Chaos dominated the bridge.
Finally, at 10:32 p.m., the official "abandon ship" signal is given on the bridge. Calls of "abandon ship, abandon ship," are heard, but no official announcement is made to the passengers.
The film shows the dangerously listing ship corridors as the mystery camera man or woman rushes to lifeboats.
Finally, after 10 more minutes, seven short whistles — the universal signal to abandon ship — are heard along with announcements to keep calm and go to the "master stations" where the life boasts are located.
At 10:56 p.m. the first lifeboats are lowered. Had the ship been evacuated immediately after hitting the rocks instead of 74 minutes later, probably no lives would have been lost, said maritime experts.
The film is now in the hands of Francesco Verusio, the magistrate leading the investigation into the disaster, which caused the death of 17 people leaving 15 missing.
"This video is of vital investigative importance. We have already questioned everybody who was on the bridge and nobody told us about this footage," Verusio told TG5.
The news show did not reveal who shot the footage. The daily Corriere della Sera speculated that the sounds of heels through the ship corridors meant that the Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, who was spotted dining with Schettino just minutes before the collision, may have taken the video.
TG5 promises to reveal today the second part of the video, showing dramatic images of the ship's evacuation.
Image: A frame from the dramatic footage taken on the bridge of the Costa Concordia. Credit: TG5