Costa CEO Says Captain Made Unauthorized Deviation


Salon Staff
January 16, 2012 4:36PM (UTC)

ROME (AP) — The chief executive of the Italian owner of the cruise ship that capsized off Tuscany says the captain made an unauthorized, unapproved deviation from the ship's programmed course.

Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said Monday that the company stood by the captain, Francesco Schettino, and would provide him with legal assistance. But he told reporters that the company, which is owned by the world's largest cruiseline, Carnival Corp., disassociated itself from his behavior.

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He says Costa ships have their routes programmed, and alarms go off when they deviate.

He said: "This route was put in correctly. The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a maneuver by the commander that was unapproved, unauthorized and unknown to Costa."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ROME (AP) — The chief executive of Italian owner of the cruise ship that capsized off Tuscany on Monday blamed "human error" on the part of the captain for the grounding of the vessel.

Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi's comments came after authorities said a sixth body had been discovered in the wreckage of the liner, which had carried some 4,200 people.

Foschi told reporters the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation. He added that the company's main concern was the safety and well-being of the passengers and crew, as well as to ensure fuel doesn't leak out from the upended hull into the pristine waters off the island of Giglio.

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The Costa Concordia ran into a reef Friday night and capsized into the port area of Giglio, sparking a frantic evacuation of those onboard. Coast Guard officials have expressed concern that the ship might slip off the rocks where it is currently perched.

Costa Crociere is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines. In a statement on Sunday, the company said that the captain, Francesco Schettino, "appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures."

"The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore," it said.

Carnival PLC, the owner of the capsized boat, saw its share price plummet by around a fifth.

Authorities were holding Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed Sunday they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.

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Schettino insisted he didn't leave the liner early, telling Mediaset television that he had done everything he could to save lives. "We were the last ones to leave the ship," he said.

Questions have been swirling about why the ship had navigated so close to the dangerous reefs and rocks that jut off Giglio's eastern coast, amid suspicions the captain may have ventured too close while carrying out a maneuver to entertain tourists on the island.

Residents of Giglio said they had never seen the Costa come so close to the dangerous "Le Scole" reef area.

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Salon Staff

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