In a talk with an Italian newspaper, Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia, said a book he's writing on the sinking of the cruise liner will show him to be a hero, not a coward. Schettino's claim flies in the face of evidence.
"Soon I will reveal the shocking truth," Schettino told the newspaper. "And then all those people who denigrated me will have to apologize, not to me but to the families of the victims and to the public, which was conned with false information."
The Jan. 13 disaster, which took the lives of 32 passengers and crew, happened after the Costa Concordia sailed too close to the shore of the Italian island of Giglio in the Tuscan Bay and Schettino has been painted throughout Italy, and the world, as the one responsible. In the interview he suggests he was not at fault.
"I will no longer accept being massacred with slanderous lies," the 52-year-old told 'Il Giornale'. "I'm writing a book and I will reveal what people don't want to come to light."
Francesco Schettino: "tripped" into a lifeboat
Schettino also said Gregorio De Falco, the Coast Guard officer who became famous for ordering Schettino back to his ship when the captain was in a lifeboat headed for shore, acted improperly. De Falco had told Schettino, who has claimed all along he "tripped" into the lifeboat, that if he abandoned his ship he would be sent to jail.
"Events were moving fast, people were at risk of losing their lives, I was trying to do as much as I could," he said. "And what was he (De Falco) doing? Instead of coordinating with the general command of the coast guard in Rome, he was threatening to have me thrown in jail." Schettino did not return to the ship, though he claims that he tried to but had to turn back when the dingy he commandeered took on water. Witnesses say he made no attempt to return to the ship.
Costa Concordia black box recordings
In September black box recordings from the bridge were published by the paper La Stampa. The transcripts do not support Schettino's claim he was not responsible for the ship going too close to shore . As they were leaving Rome he is heard saying to his crew "Let's go to salute the Giglio island." At 9:54, nine minutes after hitting the reef, Schettino tells his crew to tell the coast guard that "there has been a blackout" rather than admit they'd hit a reef. At 10:30 officers ask him for permission to give the order to abandon ship but he does not allow it to be given until 10:51.
This despite knowing earlier that the ship was in danger. At 9:56 he called the emergency center of Costa Cruises, owner/operator of the ship, and told crisis coordinator Roberto Ferrarini he "fucked up!" He says he passed "close by and I hit shallow water with the stern." At 11:08 he calls wife Fabiola at their home in Meta di Sorrento near Naples. "Fabi', my career as a captain is over," he told her. "We hit a reef, the ship is listing but I performed a great maneuver (and) everything is under control. Don't worry, let's forget all this sailing and we can start another job."
Titan Salvage and Micoperi
Days after the disaster he was charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship and placed on house arrest; in July he was given permission to go into the town. Preliminary hearings in his trial took place in October and it is highly likely the case will go to trial sometime in the Spring. He has launched legal proceedings of his own, suing Costa Cruises for wrongful dismissal. He says he wants his job back.
The ship remains 300 meters offshore of the island while an American company, Titan Salvage, and an Italian company, Micoperi, work to refloat it and tow it to a port for scrapping.
Schettino did not reveal how far along in his book he is, nor when it will be published.