The May issue of Vanity Fair magazine includes an exhaustively researched analysis of the Jan. 13 Costa Concordia sinking, detailing the errors committed by Capt. Francesco
Schettino and the efforts by unsung heroes who helped rescue people from the tilting ship.
Written by Bryan Burrough, Vanity Fair special correspondent and co-author of “Barbarians at the Gate,” the article includes interviews with numerous survivors who told harrowing tales of climbing down rope ladders and jumping into lifeboats, enduring 24 hours in frigid water with a broken leg, and leaping off the ship into the black night.
Even as Schettino abandoned the ship, appearing to some to be in shock, the deputy mayor of Giglio, Mario Pellegrini, boarded the vessel and helped rescue hundreds with the help of the ship’s doctor, Sandro Cinquini, and the navigation officer, Simone Canessa
Burrough assigns blame to Schettino, saying he made several mistakes—going too fast (15 knots) during the salute to the Island of Giglio navigating by eyesight instead of consulting maps and radar, talking on the phone while at the controls, and turning the ship the wrong way so that it struck, instead of avoided, a large rock in the water. He also reportedly told his officers to lie to the Italian Coast Guard, saying there was just a simple blackout onboard, even as water was rushing into the ship, in an effort to avoid humiliation. In an effort to stop the ship from falling on its side as it approached land, Schettino dropped anchor, but let out too much chain, so that the anchors did not dig into the seabed.
“If he had dropped the anchors properly, the ship wouldn’t have listed so badly,” says John Konrad, an American captain and nautical analyst.
In all, 4,200 passengers and crew made it off the ship, and 30 died with two still missing and presumed dead. The ship remains on its side near the island of Giglio as Costa executives evaluate how to remove the hull, a process estimated to take 10 to 12 months.
The May issue of Vanity Fair was available on newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on April 5, in subscription copies on April 5, and nationally and on the iPad, Nook, and Kindle on April 10.