A new report says the operator of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, Costa Crociere, was made aware that the doomed vessel was in trouble minutes after it struck a rock and began taking on water. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the revelation is also raising more questions about why the evacuation alarm on Costa Concordia was not sounded for more than an hour after the accident.
On Friday, January 13, the Costa Concordia struck a rock off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio that tore a 160-foot hole in its hull, and caused the vessel to capsize. The cruise ship, which is owned by the Italian company Costa Crociera SpA, a subsidiary of Miami based Carnival Corp., was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when the accident occurred. At least 16 people died in the accident, and as many as 22 passengers and crew are still unaccounted for. Captain Francesco Schettino was placed under house arrest in the aftermath of the Concordia disaster, and is accused of causing the wreck and abandoning the ship. He allegedly took a detour from the planned route to navigate closer to Giglio.
According to The Wall Street Journal, in testimony Costa Crocier delivered to the Italian Senate yesterday, chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi said Schettino kept the company updated on the crisis as it spiraled out of control. The company’s head of marine operations, Roberto Ferrarini, received at least six calls from Schettino in the 73 minutes that elapsed between the ship’s collision and the sounding of its evacuation alarm. In four calls made between 9:57 and 10:30, Schettino informed Ferrarini that water was spreading through the hull, causing the ship to list.
According to a report from Bloomberg News, Foschi’s testified that about 15 minutes after the accident, at 9:57, Schettino called Ferrarini to report that the Concordia had hit rocks and had sustained a hole in its side. While Schettino told Ferrarini at 10:32 p.m. that the situation was “under control,” he advised two minutes later that he was going to order an evacuation, Foschi said.
That account appears to undercut Foschi’s assertion on January 16 that Schettino first warned the cruise line of an “unidentified” emergency at 10:06, the Journal said.
In his testimony yesterday, Foschi did not say whether Ferrarini had made attempts to contact the Italian Coast Guard. However,it is known that passengers on the ship called the Coast Guard from their cell phones, prompting the Coast Guard to radio the ship’s bridge at 10:14. However, the ship only reported that it was suffering a blackout, delaying the arrival of rescue boats.
During testimony before an Italian judge last week, Schettino maintained that said he didn’t immediately alert passengers of the danger they were in because he didn’t want to spark a panic. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the Schettino said he was instead focused on getting the Concordia closer to shore to enable a safer evacuation.