Francesco Schettino

Last updated

Francesco Schettino
Born (1960-11-14) 14 November 1960 (age 61)
Naples, Italy
OccupationFormer ship captain
Employer Costa Crociere (2002–2012)
Known forCaptain of Costa Concordia
Criminal statusIncarcerated
Criminal chargeMultiple manslaughter
Penalty16 years in prison
Costa Concordia, which Schettino captained Costa Concordia in Palma, Majorca, Spain.JPG
Costa Concordia, which Schettino captained

Francesco Schettino (Italian pronunciation:  [franˈtʃesko sketˈtiːno] ; born 14 November 1960) [1] is an Italian former sea captain who commanded the cruise ship Costa Concordia when it struck an underwater rock and capsized with the deaths of 32 passengers and crew off the Italian island of Giglio on 13 January 2012. [2] [3] In 2015, he was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for his role in the incident. [4]


Early life and education

Francesco Schettino was born into a seafaring family of Meta, Campania. [5] He attended the nautical institute Nino Bixio in Piano di Sorrento, [3] then worked for the ferry company Tirrenia.


On 16 April 2002, aged 41, Schettino was hired by Costa Crociere, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. Starting as a chief mate, after two months he moved up to become Second Master, second-in-command. In 2006, Schettino was promoted to captain and given command of the newly launched Costa Concordia . [6] [ full citation needed ] In 2010, as captain of the Costa Atlantica , he allegedly damaged another Carnival Corporation ship while entering the port of Warnemünde, Germany, at too high a speed. [7] AIDA Cruises later denied that the incident caused damage. [8] In 2014, two years after the Costa Concordia disaster, he held a panic management seminar at a Rome university. [9]

Costa Concordia disaster

Schettino's actions during the Costa Concordia disaster resulted in widespread infamy and a 16-year prison sentence for manslaughter Collision of Costa Concordia 11.jpg
Schettino’s actions during the Costa Concordia disaster resulted in widespread infamy and a 16-year prison sentence for manslaughter

Schettino was the captain in charge of the Costa Concordia on 13 January 2012, when the ship attempted a sail-by salute past Giglio, a manoeuvre he had performed before. The ship struck an underwater rock off the island, partially capsized and listed on its starboard side, resulting in the deaths of 32 people. [10] Schettino accepted some degree of responsibility and asked for forgiveness when he talked about those who had died. [3] In 2012, Schettino's lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, defended his action and indicated that his manoeuvre after the collision was "brilliant" and saved lives. [11] In December 2014, another one of Schettino's lawyers, Domenico Pepe, just prior to Schettino's testimony, declared that his client wanted to set the record straight and "defend his honour".[ citation needed ]

Schettino indicated prior to trial that the underwater rocks that the ship hit were uncharted, the helmsman did not speak English or Italian, and that the ship’s generators malfunctioned, impeding the rescue effort. Regarding his dry and early departure of the vessel, Schettino had explained that he slipped off the ship when it turned over and fell into a lifeboat. [12] A transcript of a recorded conversation between Schettino and Gregorio de Falco, the on-duty Italian Coast Guard commander, was broadcast across news bulletins. It details a very angry De Falco repeatedly ordering Schettino to leave the lifeboat and return to the stricken Costa Concordia. De Falco clearly does not believe Schettino's explanation of how he 'fell' into the lifeboat, or his excuse for not returning to his vessel because it was "too dark" and the lifeboat had "stopped moving". At one point, De Falco was so angered at Schettino's excuses that he told Schettino, "Vada a bordo, cazzo!", translated as "Get the fuck on board!", "Get on board, for fuck's sake!", or "Get on board, dammit!", but Schettino did not do so. [13]

Treatment in media

Schettino was vilified in extensive media coverage that dubbed him "Captain Coward" and "Captain Calamity". [14] [15] Others in the press noted that Schettino was a daredevil and prone to insubordination. [16] He was even described as "Italy's most hated man" by the tabloid press. [17] [18] At the end of his trial at Grosseto, Schettino said that he spent three years "in a media meat grinder." [19] However, there had also been speculation that Schettino was a handy fall guy for Costa Cruises, which had dissociated itself from him and must have been aware of the practice of a sail-by salute, even requesting it. [20]

Costa had communication with Schettino during the interval between the collision with the rock and the evacuation order; some claim this may have led to a delay in the rescue effort. [21] [20] However, Schettino did not contact his employers during the first 15 minutes after the collision. Thus, any such conversation(s) did not distract him from sending a mayday or ordering an evacuation. He reportedly lied to the coast guard to keep rescuers away, and ordered passengers away from "muster stations", delaying evacuation. [22]

After the accident, Schettino was placed in temporary custody by the prosecutor of Grosseto and released for house arrest on 17 January 2012. [23] On 5 July 2012, Schettino was released from house arrest but mandated to reside in Meta di Sorrento. [24] Prior to Schettino's trial, Pier Luigi Foschi, at that time chairman of Costa, put blame on the captain as being responsible for deviating from the course and sailing close to Giglio. [3] Costa terminated Schettino's employment in 2012. [25] The company declined to pay for his legal defence although it had supported him initially, and after a plea bargain with the prosecution, it became a co-plaintiff in the trial against Schettino. [26]

Schettino's trial was separated from a trial against five other Costa employees, namely Roberto Ferrarini (the company's crisis director, who was found guilty of minimizing the extent of the disaster and delaying an adequate response), cabin service director Manrico Giampedroni, first officer Ciro Ambrosio, helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin, and third officer Silvia Coronica. All pleaded guilty in a plea bargaining plan and received jail sentences ranging from eighteen months to two years and ten months. Reuters cited judicial sources as saying none of these individuals were likely to go to jail as sentences less than two years for non-violent offences are routinely suspended in Italy, and longer sentences may be appealed or replaced by community service. [27] Criminal investigations into any role Costa may have had in the disaster were closed after the company agreed to pay a fine of €1 million. [26] The company may still be liable for civil damages. [19]

Court of Grosseto trial

On 23 February 2013, the office of the prosecution at Grosseto announced that it had initiated legal proceedings against Schettino. He was accused of multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a maritime accident, abandoning ship with passengers still on board, and lack of cooperation with rescue operations. [28] The trial took place at Grosseto's "Teatro Moderno", which was adapted into a courtroom to handle lawyers of about 250 co-plaintiffs and about 400 scheduled witnesses. [26]

While the other parties involved could plea bargain, Schettino's request to strike a plea bargain himself [26] was denied. By the time he had made his first appearance on 2 December 2014, he was left as the sole person to be accused of manslaughter. [29] "Schettino is (now) the only defendant, but he is not the only one responsible", opined Daniele Bocciolini, lawyer for some survivors. "He's not responsible for the lifeboats that couldn't be launched nor for the (failing) emergency generators". [30]

In his defense, Schettino explained that the sail-by salute was intended to pay homage to other mariners and, for business reasons, to present passengers a nice view. He denied that he did this to impress a Moldovan dancer whom he had brought to the bridge. She had boarded as a non-paying passenger and later admitted the two were having an affair. [31] Schettino maintained his actions had saved the lives of many after the ship impacted the rock and claimed some of his crew misunderstood and botched his orders. [18] Further, he blamed defective generators and the flooding of compartments for aggravating the situation. [32] His lawyer indicated that these malfunctions were responsible for the fatalities. [29]

At the end of the proceeding, the public prosecutor Magistrate Maria Navarro asked for a jail sentence of 26 years and three months. [32] Confirming the charges, she parsed jail times as follows: fourteen years for multiple manslaughter, nine years for causing a shipwreck, three years for abandoning the vessel and three months for failing to contact the authorities when the accident happened. [28] Navarro accused Schettino of lying during the trial as well as in prior public interviews. [32] [33] Prosecutor Stefano Pizza stated, "The captain’s duty to be the last person off the ship is not just an obligation dictated by ancient maritime rules, it is also a legal obligation intended to limit the damage to those on the ship." [33] Schettino's lawyers rebutted the charges and indicated that the disaster was a collective failure for which he should not be made the scapegoat. [19]

On 11 February 2015, after a 19-month trial, Judge Giovanni Puliatti read the verdict, sentencing Schettino to sixteen years in prison and five years of interdiction from navigating. [34] [35] The sixteen-year verdict is composed of ten years for manslaughter, five years for causing the shipwreck, and one year for abandoning his passengers, to be served consecutively. [19]

Response to the verdict

Rebibbia, a suburb of Rome, is home to the prison where Schettino is incarcerated Piazza Lino Ferriani, Rebibbia, roma.jpg
Rebibbia, a suburb of Rome, is home to the prison where Schettino is incarcerated

Although Costa's lawyer called the verdict "balanced", [36] others criticized it. Survivors' groups saw it as too lenient. [37] [38] On the other hand, it was also argued that Schettino, while guilty, had been made a scapegoat. [38] According to this view, the disaster was a complex failure, involving not only negligence on part of the captain, but also inadequate safety procedures, poor evacuation procedures, communication failures, and technical defects (such as faulty watertight doors). [38] On 31 May 2016, an Italian appeals court upheld Schettino's prison sentence. [10] Schettino further appealed to Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, [39] which upheld the original sentence on 12 May 2017. On hearing the verdict of the second appeal, he turned himself in to Rome's Rebibbia prison to begin his sentence. [40] [41]

Personal life

Present with him on the bridge during the collision was Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, who has admitted she had been having an extramarital affair with Schettino. [42] Before starting his prison sentence, Schettino lived in Meta in the Province of Naples. He is married and has one daughter.

See also

Related Research Articles

1998 Cavalese cable car crash 1998 disaster in which a U.S. Navy aircraft flew into ski lift cables in Cavalese, Italy

The Cavalese cable car crash, also known as the Strage del Cermis, occurred on February 3, 1998, near the Italian town of Cavalese, a ski resort in the Dolomites some 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Trento. Twenty people were killed when a United States Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler aircraft, flying too low and against regulations, in order for the pilots to "have fun" and "take videos of the scenery", cut a cable supporting a cable car of an aerial lift. Joseph Schweitzer, one of the two American pilots, confessed in 2012 that he had burned the tape containing incriminating evidence upon returning to the American base.

Jayson Williams is an American former professional basketball player who played for the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2010, Williams pleaded guilty to assault in the accidental shooting death of a limousine driver. He served a 27-month prison sentence and was released in April 2012.

MS <i>Express Samina</i> Greek ferry which sank off the coast of Paros Island (September 2000)

MS Express Samina was a French-built RoPax ferry that struck the charted Portes Islets rocks in the Bay of Parikia off the coast of Paros island in the central Aegean Sea on 26 September 2000. The accident resulted in 82 deaths and the loss of the ship. The cause of the accident was crew negligence, for which several members were found criminally liable.

Costa Cruises Italian cruise line

Costa Crociere S.p.A., operating as Costa Cruises, is an Italian cruise line founded in 1854 and organized as a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc since 2000. Based in Genoa, Italy, the cruise line primarily caters to the Italian cruise market, but the company's 12 ships, which all sail under the Italian flag, provide itineraries sailing to countries globally.

<i>Costa Concordia</i> Cruise ship that ran aground in a 2012 maritime accident

Costa Concordia was a cruise ship operated by Costa Crociere. She was the first of her class, followed by sister ships Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, and Carnival Splendor built for Carnival Cruise Line. When the 114,137-ton Costa Concordia and her sister ships entered service, they were among the largest ships built in Italy until the construction of the 130,000 GT Dream-class cruise ships.

<i>Costa Atlantica</i>

Costa Atlantica is a Spirit-class cruise ship owned and operated by CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping. She was built in 2000 by the Kvaerner Masa-Yards Helsinki New Shipyard in Helsinki, Finland.

Yiannis Avranas is a Greek former sea captain who commanded the cruise ship Oceanos when she sank off the Wild Coast of the Transkei, South Africa, on Sunday, August 4, 1991. In 1994, Avranas' British wife Davina published a book about the sinking, titled The Oceanos Tragedy.

Women and children first Unofficial maritime code of conduct

"Women and children first", known to a lesser extent as the Birkenhead Drill, is a code of conduct dating from 1852, whereby the lives of women and children were to be saved first in a life-threatening situation, typically abandoning ship, when survival resources such as lifeboats were limited. However, it has no basis in maritime law.

Muster drill Maritime drill to practice for emergency evacuations

A muster drill, sometimes referred to as a lifeboat drill or a boat drill, is an exercise that is conducted by the crew of a ship prior to embarking on a voyage. A muster drill prepares passengers for safe evacuation, in the event of an emergency on board the ship, and familiarizes the crew and the passengers with escape routes. In a muster drill, the use of life vests and the escape routes from the ship are explained to the passengers. It is typically conducted approximately 30 minutes prior to the ship's scheduled departure time, and all guests must remain silent during the drill so that everyone will be able to hear the safety announcements from the captain. To alert that the drill is in progress, a general emergency alarm is sounded, and the captain then explains what the passengers need to do.


AIDAblu is a Sphinx-class cruise ship, operated by the German cruise line, AIDA Cruises. AIDAblu is the seventh ship in the cruise line. The vessel was delivered by Meyer Werft on 4 February 2010. She is a sister ship to AIDAdiva, AIDAbella, AIDAluna with a half deck more, and is followed by similar AIDAsol and AIDAmar. She has a passenger capacity of 2,050.

<i>Concordia</i>-class cruise ship

The Concordia class is a class of cruise ships that are operated by Costa Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines, subsidiaries of Carnival Corporation & plc.

William Brown was an American ship that sank in 1841, taking with her 31 passengers. A further 16 passengers were forced out of an overloaded lifeboat before the survivors were rescued. In the case of United States v. Holmes, crewman Alexander Holmes was charged with murder and convicted of manslaughter for his actions.

<i>Maersk Alabama</i> hijacking Piracy incident

The Maersk Alabamahijacking led to a series of maritime events that began on 9 April 2009, when four pirates in the Indian Ocean seized the cargo ship Maersk Alabama at a distance of 240 nautical miles southeast of Eyl, Somalia. The siege ended after a rescue effort by the United States Navy on 12 April.

<i>Costa Concordia</i> disaster Cruise ship sinking in 2012

On 13 January 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia struck an underwater rock, capsized, and sank in shallow waters off Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, resulting in 32 deaths. The eight-year-old Costa Cruises vessel was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea when it deviated from its planned route at Isola del Giglio, sailed closer to the island, and struck a rock formation on the sea floor. Although a six-hour rescue effort brought most of the passengers ashore, 34 people died – 27 passengers, five crew, and later, two members of the salvage team.

Giglio Porto Frazione in Tuscany, Italy

Giglio Porto is a village in Tuscany, central Italy, administratively a frazione of the comune of Isola del Giglio, province of Grosseto. At the time of the 2001 census its population amounted to 633.

A sail-by salute is a salute performed by bringing a ship close to shore to salute those on land. Often the salute is performed for a crewmember's family. The practice dates back to ancient times. In Italy, massive ships regularly came very close to shorelines or jetties in the Mediterranean, including the island of Procida, off the Amalfi coast, and Sicily.

The captain goes down with the ship Maritime tradition

"The captain goes down with the ship" is a maritime tradition that a sea captain holds ultimate responsibility for both their ship and everyone embarked on it, and in an emergency will either save those on board or die trying. Although often connected to the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912 and its captain, Edward J. Smith, the tradition precedes Titanic by at least 11 years. In most instances, the captain forgoes their own rapid departure of a ship in distress, and concentrates instead on saving other people. It often results in either the death or belated rescue of the captain as the last person on board.

Schettino is an Italian surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Death of Conrad Roy Landmark involuntary manslaughter case

Conrad Henri Roy III was an American man who committed suicide at the age of 18. His girlfriend, then 17-year-old Michelle Carter, encouraged him in text messages to commit suicide. The case was the subject of a notable investigation and involuntary manslaughter trial in Massachusetts, colloquially known as the "texting suicide case." Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter involved scores of text messages, emails, and phone calls recorded between Carter and Roy in the leadup to his death, in which Carter repeatedly encouraged Roy to commit suicide. Roy had seen numerous mental health professionals, and he insisted that he wanted to die. Carter and Roy had both been prescribed psychiatric medication. The case raised questions pertaining to the nature and limits of criminal responsibility. Judge Moniz inferred that Carter wanted Roy dead and that her words coerced him to kill himself, a position that has been subject to some criticism. Carter was convicted by the judge of involuntary manslaughter, chiefly on the basis of her final phone call in which she ordered Roy, after he had become scared, to go back inside his truck as it filled with lethal carbon monoxide.

Gregorio de Falco Italian naval officer and politician

Gregorio de Falco is an Italian naval officer and politician who is currently a member of the Italian Senate. He is best known for his intervention in the attempt to solve the Costa Concordia disaster in January 2012.


  1. "Biography Francesco Schettino". Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  2. "Francesco Schettino: the cruise captain who sailed into notoriety". CNN. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Profile: Capt Francesco Schettino". BBC News. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  4. France-Presse, Agence (12 May 2017). "Costa Concordia captain hands himself into prison". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  5. Ward, Victoria (18 January 2012). "Costa Concordia: Captain Francesco Schettino's home town comes out to support him". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  6. "Marine casualty report" (PDF).
  7. "Costa Capt. Crashed Before: Report". The Daily Beast. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  8. "Hatte Schettino schon einmal einen Unfall? Aida widerspricht". Augsburger Allgemeine. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  9. "Capt Francesco Schettino teaches panic management course at Rome university". The Telegraph. 6 August 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  10. 1 2 Costa Concordia "Captain’s Prison Sentence Upheld by Italian Court", Time , World, Italy, 31 May 2016; retrieved 4 July 2020.
  11. "Captain arrested over tragedy". Skynews. 15 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  12. "Captain Francesco Schettino 'refused chance' to return to Costa Concordia". 28 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  13. "Telephone call between Costa Concordia Captain and Italian Coast Guard (ENGLISH SUB)". Youtube. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  14. "Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino returns to sunken cruise ship". The Guardian . 27 February 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  15. "Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia captain, must pay for cowardly actions". NY Daily News. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  16. Barbie Latza Nadeau (18 January 2012). "Francesco Schettino, the Costa Concordia's Daredevil Captain". The Daily Beast . Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  17. "Concordia captain - Italy's most hated man". IOL News. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  18. 1 2 "Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino blames helmsman for accident". 23 September 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  19. 1 2 3 4 "Costa Concordia captain Schettino guilty of manslaughter". BBC. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  20. 1 2 "Cruise ship sinking: Costa chiefs 'insisted' on traditional sail-by salute, claims captain". The Scotsman. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  21. Dani Garavelli (22 January 2012). "Francesco Schettino: coward or conspiracy victim?". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  22. "Terror at Sea - The Sinking of the Costa Concordia" (Documentary). Channel 4 (UK). 31 January 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  23. "Arresti domiciliari a Schettino". La Repubblica Firenze. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  24. "Judge lifts Costa Concordia captain's house arrest". USA Today Travel. Associated Press. 5 July 2015. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  25. "Unglücks-Kapitän Schettino und Costa-Reederei wetzen ihre Messer". Online Focus. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  26. 1 2 3 4 Annette Langer (18 July 2013). "Costa Concordia Trial: Captain Schettino's Quest for the Truth". Der Spiegel . Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  27. "Five guilty in Costa Concordia trial". BBC News. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  28. 1 2 "Schettino facing 26 years?". Tradewinds. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  29. 1 2 "Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino Testifies at Trial". NBC News. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  30. Frances D'Emilio (9 September 2013). "Costa Concordia Trial: Victims' Lawyers Want Answers On Italian Shipwreck". The World Post. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  31. "Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino Testifies at Trial". NBC News. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  32. 1 2 3 "Prosecutor says Costa Concordia captain lied, seeks 26-year sentence for 2012 wreck". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  33. 1 2 "Prosecution in Costa Concordia captain recommends sentence". Irish Times. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  34. ABC News. "Costa Concordia Captain Found Guilty in Fatal Shipwreck, Sentenced to 16 Years". ABC News. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  35. "Naufragio Concordia, Francesco Schettino condannato a 16 anni. Ma non va in carcere". 11 February 2015.
  36. Frances D'Emilio (Associated Press) (11 February 2015). "Italian Court Jails Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino". Huffington Post . Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  37. "Keine Fluchtgefahr: "Costa Concordia"-Kapitän bleibt auf freiem Fuß" (in German). Der Spiegel. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  38. 1 2 3 Michael Day (15 February 2015). "Costa Concordia trial: Was captain Francesco Schettino really the only one at fault for the disaster?". The Independent . Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  39. "Five years since Concordia disaster". ANSA. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  40. "Costa Concordia captain's sentence upheld by Italy court". BBC News . 12 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  41. Balmer, Crispian (12 May 2017). "Top Italian court upholds conviction of Costa Concordia captain". Reuters . Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  42. Nick Squires (29 October 2013). "Costa Concordia trial: I was captain's lover, admits Moldovan dancer". The Telegraph . Retrieved 9 October 2018.