The Captain Who Accidentally Sank a Cruise Ship While Trying to Impress His Mistress. 32 People Died & Many Were Injured

Diana Rus
Costa ConcordiaPhoto byCosta Concordia disaster/Wikipedia

On 13 January 2012, the Costa Concordia was on the final leg of a Mediterranean Sea trip when it deviated from its original course at Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, sailed closer to the island and crashed with a rock formation on the sea floor.

The ship began to list and eventually capsized, landing unevenly on a ledge under the water.

Costa Concordia Cruise Ship

Concordia was scheduled to transport passengers on a seven-day Italian cruise from Civitavecchia to Savona. Nevertheless, as the ship diverted its course to approach the island of Giglio, it came ashore on a reef known as the Scole Rocks. The ship was damaged by the impact, enabling water to leak in and endangering the 4,229 passengers.
Costa ConcordiaPhoto byCosta Concordia disaster/Wikipedia

How the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank

On 13 January 2012, around 7 p.m. local time, the Costa Concordia departed for Savona on a seven-night trip from Civitavecchia, Italy. Around two and a half hours into the cruise, the ship's Captain, Francesco Schettino, ordered the ship to deviate from its scheduled route and sail extremely near to the little island of Giglio, Italy, to execute a "sail-by salute," a move meant to impress both passengers and residents.

Around 9:45 p.m., when the ship approached Giglio, the port side of the ship struck a rock, shattering the hull and causing the ship to lurch violently and descend into darkness.

Concordia was free-floating for an hour, picking up wind and tides. The ship was blown farther north and whirled about, with the starboard side collapsing on an underwater rock shelf, causing the ship to lurch once more and start rolling over on its side.

Almost 90 minutes after the first hit with the rocky island shore, Italian Coast Guard rescue crews began to arrive.

By dawn the next morning, despite a six-hour rescue operation bringing the majority of the passengers ashore, 32 passengers and crew members died.

Francesco Schettino, the ship's master, was faced with questions about what had happened as well as charges that he had left command of the ship while people were still in danger.
Profile of stranded wreckPhoto byCosta Concordia disaster/Wikipedia


An investigation focused on deficiencies in the procedures followed by the crew of the Costa Concordia, as well as the actions of the captain, Francesco Schettino, who abandoned the ship prematurely.

Reports circulated that the married 51-year-old Captain was entertaining a young, alleged mistress on the bridge, Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan when the ship went aground.

Prosecutors offered a tempting defense at the subsequent trial: the married ship captain had piloted the ship so close to the island to impress a much younger Moldovan dancer with whom he was having an affair.

According to reports, the young woman was sailing as the captain's guest and was not on the passenger list.

It is disputed if Captain Francesco Schettino wanted to impress his mistress.
Costa ConcordiaPhoto byCosta Concordia disaster/Wikipedia

Schettino obtained a sentence of 16 years and one month in prison

Schettino, who was charged with leaving the ship, stated during the trial that he stumbled and fell into a lifeboat and was forced to leave the ship. A video of him carefully boarding the lifeboat undermines his claim.

However, the Italian courts determined that the captain, four crew members, and one representative of the ship's corporation, Costa Crociere (a division of Carnival Corporation), were responsible for the accident and delaying a safe evacuation.

The accident was completely the result of a series of people's errors; it was not the fault of unexpected weather or ship failure.
The Starboard side of the righted Costa ConcordiaPhoto byCosta Concordia disaster/Wikipedia


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My name is Diana Rus, and I'm a Romanian content writer with a passion for exploring the world and sharing my experiences with others. I studied Marketing at University and have a master's degree in Marketing Research. My true passion lies in writing, and in my articles, I share my thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics, including interesting places from the US and around the world, history, and important events.


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