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article imageFirst Officer: Costa Concordia captain distracted by lover

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 19, 2013 in World
The captain of tragic Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, was "distracted" on the bridge leading up to the tragedy that killed 32, the ship's First Officer Ciro Ambrosio said. Ambrosio is testifying at the trial of Francesco Schettino this week.
He said Schettino had returned to the bridge after having his dinner and was accompanied by the woman Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, who, earlier in the trial admitted she was the captain's lover. He had taken command of the ship, Ambrosio said at the trial in Grosseto, Italy.
"But he did not immediately speak the phrase 'I'm taking control,' which signals a change in command," Ambrosio told the court. "However, given the way he positioned himself, I assumed he had taken command and I thought I was no longer in charge. Then, since the captain was distracted, and we were getting closer to Giglio, I gave orders to the helmsman.
"He was on the telephone with (retired Costa Capt. Mario) Palombo. Even though I had finished my shift, I felt I had to retake command in order to give orders to the helmsman to start our approach to Giglio Island, which was getting closer."
Captain Schettino: Multiple charges
The captain is alleged to have taken the ship in too close to the island of Giglio in order to salute his former colleague Palombo, and in doing so hit a reef, which tore a massive hole in the hull. The ship listed over, 65 percent of the Costa Concordia underwater.
Ambrosio was given a plea bargain for his role in the tragedy and is serving one year and 11 months for multiple manslaughter. Schettino, denied a plea bargain, is on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship. If found guilty the 54-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison.
In the early Fall the 114,500 tonnes Costa Concordia was pulled back upright by the American company, Titan Salvage, and the Italian company, Micoperi. Plans are to tow it to the port of Piombino in June to be scrapped.
More about Captain Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia, first officer costa concordia, Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan
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