Early this year, the cruise ship Costa Concordia grounded on a reef and partially sank, with the tragic loss of 32 people.
Almost immediately, the disaster was compared the Titanic, and Captain Shettino was compared (highly unfavorably) with Captain Smith.
Perhaps it’s inevitable, especially in the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking.
But is that comparison fair?
SchettinoAge 62 52Ship RMS Titanic MS Costa ConcordiaEmployer White Star Line Costa CruisesDate of Sinking April 14, 1912 January 13, 2012Dumb Mistake Going full speed ahead Steering his ship too close tothrough an ice field in the shore in order to impressspite of repeated warnings passengersfrom other shipsDumb Reason J. Bruce Ismay (head of Managers of Costa CruisesWhite Star Line) allegedly allegedly told him totold
him toFate Went down with the ship Exited ship in the middle of rescueoperationsPopular Verdict Hero Coward
Looking at this table, there really isn’t that much that separates the two captains.
Both did something incredibly dumb. Both have excuses that their bosses are alleged to have told them to disregard safety precautions. Both disasters resulted in tragic loss of life.
Captain Smith stayed at his post until all the lifeboats were off, staying with his ship until the bitter end, while Captain Schettino left in the middle of rescue operations (he would later assert that he simply fell into a lifeboat), and was infamously ordered by the Italian Coast Guard to “Get on board for ____’s sake!”.
The moral for all of you aspiring captains out there is simple: if your ship starts sinking, wait until the passengers have been rescued before getting into your lifeboat.
Your Obedient Servant,