Italy cruise ship group says unaware of dangerous practice

ROME Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:54am EST

A Carabinieri scuba diver inspects the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 19, 2012.   REUTERS/Centro subacquei dei Carabinieri/Handout

A Carabinieri scuba diver inspects the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Centro subacquei dei Carabinieri/Handout

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ROME (Reuters) - The owners of the doomed Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia were not aware of unsafe practices involving ships coming close to shore to give tourists a better view, Costa Cruises chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi told a newspaper on Friday.

Foschi's comments to the Corriere della Sera daily underline the growing battle between the company and the Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, who is blamed for causing the accident, in which at least 11 people died.

Costa has suspended Schettino and declared itself an injured party in the case, in which the captain is accused by prosecutors of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all the passengers were evacuated.

Investigators say Schettino steered the 114,500 tonne vessel too close to the Tuscan island of Giglio, where it ran aground and capsized last week.

Some islanders said they had been told beforehand that he would perform a maneuver known as a "salute" which took the ship within 150 meters of the shore.

Foschi told the Corriere della Sera that ships sometimes passed near to shore during what he termed "tourist navigation" but he said this was always performed safely and he denied that the company knew the Concordia would be going so close.

"I can't rule out that individual captains, without informing us, may have set a course closer to land. However I can rule out ever having known that they may have done it unsafely," he said.

"Personally, I think he wasn't honest with us," he said.

Schettino's lawyer Bruno Leporatti denied that his client had delayed before reporting the accident to the company.

"Schettino immediately informed Costa of the problem, that is, the impact with the rocks," he told reporters.

RESPONSIBILITY

The disgraced captain has admitted coming too close to the shore but has denied bearing sole responsibility, saying other factors may have been involved.

"Schettino told me that if he made any errors, he is ready to assume his responsibilities," Leporatti said.

Doubts have already been expressed about whether Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp, the world's largest cruise operator, can have been unaware of the practice of ships "saluting."

Enrico Scerni, former president of the ship classification organization RINA, suggested in a newspaper interview that it was difficult to believe that Costa was unaware that captains often went close to Giglio to "salute" the island and give passengers a closer view.

Scerni resigned from his position soon afterwards and RINA issued a statement saying that the routes specified by Costa "conformed with all criteria of good navigation."

Foschi criticized delays in evacuating the ship after it struck a rock which gashed its hull and denied that any pressure had been exerted on Schettino to wait before deciding to abandon ship because of cost considerations.

"I assure you absolutely that no one thought in financial terms. That would be a choice that would violate our ethics," he told the newspaper.

(Additional reporting by Silvia Ognibene in Grosseto; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Comments (3)
crbob wrote:
And if you believe any of this other than the captain came too close to the shoreline, and the company approved of “saluting” the island, you also believe in the tooth fairy, nothing short of executing the captain will relieve the anguish of the many people he deliberately killed…..

Jan 20, 2012 9:19am EST  --  Report as abuse
matthewslyman wrote:
Schettino’s lawyer Bruno Leporatti denied that his client had delayed before reporting the accident to the company.
“Schettino immediately informed Costa of the problem, that is, the impact with the rocks,” he told reporters.

Funny then, how we have a recording (from a few days ago, which this lawyer must know about) of the people on the bridge telling the Italian coastguard that they were “investigating a blackout”, and mentioning nothing about a collision with a rock…
Funny how, the news media report seeing video of passengers being told to go back to their cabins, sit still and be “tranquil”.

Is this the same lawyer who denied that Schettino had fled the ship before it was fully evacuated?
Or the same lawyer who emphasized how Schettino allegedly “saved many lives” by pulling a dangerous maneuver with the anchors [after destroying many lives with another dangerous maneuver that the lawyer fails to mention]?

Is this lawyer going for the world record for the most obvious & outrageous lies?

No wonder Foschi has changed his mind about paying Schettino’s legal fees. Maybe he doesn’t want to be tarnished by association with the grubby business of defending the indefensible.

How many lies does a lawyer have to tell, before they go to jail? Oh, I forgot, that’s the reason why they do this… Legal privilege, right?

Jan 20, 2012 2:20pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jagans wrote:
There are these things called charts that show depth and submerged obstacles, been around since man took to the seas. And there are things now like GPS, Sonar, and Radar which show you exactly where you are on the planet within a couple of meters. It is my understanding that these ships can be put on autopilot and stay mid channel to within a couple of feet of center-line, due to the thrusters they have which rotate 180 degrees. This captain, which looks like a used car salesman is guilty of MURDER,not manslaughter. He is a disgrace to any mariner, let alone to the select group of men who are chosen to captain a ship that is responsible for thousands of lives.

Jan 21, 2012 7:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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