As soon as they leave the port, most of the 3,200 or more passengers head to the restaurants below the deck for dinner. It was the evening of January 13, 2012. The “Costa Concordia” flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea from the small port city of Civitaveccia near Rome. This ship is the pride of its Costa Crozier shipping company: designed by an American designer, the bases are decorated in the colors of European countries, after which they are named. Its stomach is the largest health area ever on a cruise ship. At 9:45 pm, the passengers suddenly felt a strong tremor. The dining rooms are dark and cluttered. Loudspeaker announcements in five languages calm the crew:
“We are currently in the dark due to technical issues. No need to panic. Please be calm. Our technicians are working to resolve the issue.”
The captain wants to give a good picture of an island background
“Costa Concordia” has crossed the small island of Kiglio – in, eyewitnesses will later testify, dangerously close to the beach. In court, experts suspect that this was done on purpose and for advertising purposes, to create a beautiful image of the ship against the backdrop of the island. This practice has its own name in Italy, “bending”. To the captain, 51-year-old Francesco Sketino, it’s really regular. Today, however, he crashed into a rock and opened the ship to a length of 70 meters. Passengers who are already wearing life jackets are not allowed to board the lifeboats, but are calmed and sent to their rooms. One of them is Gert Hammer of Koenigswinder:
“Well, what I really saw was the disaster, the captain sent the announcement in five languages for a long time: we have a technical problem. But we have everything under control.
Mechanical noise and screaming
“Costa Concordia” is now moving towards the island. According to Shettino’s version, deliberately better exit. Experts counter: The wind and current pushed it towards the island and could not move. There Fabio Bernardini, who lives on the island of Giglio, observes the disaster. Then, he said, he heard an engine noise – “and there were screams and a power outage. Only the emergency lights worked.”
The ship gets more and more inventory
That night, Bernardini took 30 people from the shipwreck and treated them to his kitchen. After 10pm, the port captain in Livorno learned of the accident and wanted to get an idea over the radio: Costa Concordia only reported a power outage. In fact, the ship is on the island’s seashore after a while and gets more and more inventory. The horn signal will not sound until 10:30 pm: finally exit, in a very difficult situation, says Gerd Hammer:
“You have to walk on the side wall. The floor was walled up on the right. The roof of the deck was walled up on the left. And the grille on top of it.”
It took two hours for enough helicopters and aid boats to arrive at the site. About 200 passengers jumped from the ship and swam towards the island while they were still aboard. A further 150 people were later rescued from the sea by aides. Grigorio de Palco, a naval officer in the port of Livorno, directed the operation. He was shocked to learn that deaths had already occurred – but the captain had long since left the ship. He sent word to Shetino by radio that he wanted to coordinate the rescue operation from the island.
De Falco: “Listen, Shettino, get on the Lifeboat now and get back on board! There are kids, get on, damn it.”
Shettino: “Commandant, please.”
De Falco: Do you deny it? Go back, it’s an order, you left the boat. “