Captain Who Abandoned Sinking Ship Gave University Lecture On Panic Response

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The disgraced captain of the Costa Concordia, an Italian cruise liner that sank in Jan. 2012, gave a two-hour lecture on a topic for which he is likely not equipped, generating outrage among Italian officials.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, was invited by a professor at Rome’s La Sapienza university to give the July 5 lecture to criminal science post-graduate students at the school last month,The U.K. Telegraph reports.

The selection is strange, at best, given that Schettino is on trial for abandoning ship and manslaughter after 32 of 4,252 passengers and crew died when the liner capsized after hitting a reef off of Isola del Giorgia.

Schettino is accused of negligence leading to the wreck and of leaving the ship amid a chaotic evacuation while passengers were still on board.

“I was called to speak because I am an expert,” the disgraced captain told La Nazione, an Italian newspaper, according to the BBC. “I had to talk about panic management.”

Schettino reportedly used a 3-D model of the Costa Concordia to teach students how to conduct emergency evacuations.

“I illustrated how situations of panic should be managed, discussing the human element in these situations,” Schettino told the Italian paper, according to The Telegraph.

“After all, I’ve sailed across every sea in the world. I know how one should behave in cases like this, how one needs to act when there are crew members of different nationalities.”

As The Telegraph reports, a defense being used by Schettino — who goes back to trial in the fall — is that he accidentally tripped and fell into a life boat that was being used to rescue Costa Concordia passengers.

The university’s dean, Luigi Frati, called the lecture “inappropriate” and Schettino’s choice “unworthy.” He said he was unaware that Schettino would be speaking at the school, the BBC reported.

“This is madness. The only thing Schettino should do is withdraw from public life,” Barbara Saltamartini, an Italian MP, said, according to the Telegraph.

Italian education minister Stefania Giannini called Schettino’s choice “baffling” and called the Costa Concordia disaster “an open wound.”

The professor who invited Schettino to conduct the lecture is being brought up for disciplinary review.

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