Cruise Ship Owners Criticize Captain

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 12:05 am (UTC-5)
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The owner of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground Friday killing five, says the vessel's captain made “errors of judgment.”

The Costa Crociere ship lines said Sunday the captain had brought the Costaa Concordia too close to shore and made decisions during the emergency that did not follow company procedures, which it says are in line with international standards. It did not specify what steps Captain Francesco Schettino failed to take.

He is in jail facing manslaughter charges for allegedly sailing off course and abandoning ship while the passengers struggled to find safety.

Investigators have begun analysis of the cruise ship's “black box” data recorders which recorded the ship's movements in the moments prior to the accident.

The cruise ship with more than 4,000 people on board ran aground late Friday off the northern Italian coast and capsized. Survivors describe a chaotic and terrifying scene. Some say there was no organization, while others jumped into the icy Mediterranean and swam to shore.

Five people were killed and at least 17 were still missing Sunday after rescuers found two elderly men in a submerged cabin. Six crew members are among the missing.

“We were all standing there, and as the boat started going a little quicker, turning, I saw one of the cranes… It popped the life raft, and it exploded and it went boom! And it just crashed. There were two people on it, they got off I think. We saw like five people jump in the water and start swimming, and I looked and the other crane next to me, which was three feet above water, one meter above water, was like two meters below water.”

When the ship hit the rocks, officials say, passengers were instructed to put on life jackets and to take to the life rafts. However, those on board said the hull tilted so sharply and quickly that many lifeboats could not be lowered into the water.

The Costa Concordia is 290 meters long, with 13 decks. It had 13 bars, five restaurants, four swimming pools and 500 balconied staterooms. The Costa Concordia and Costa Crociere ship lines are a part of the Carnival Corporation.