O Captain! My Captain!

Captains and their ships. The ones who stayed, the ones who fled.

This Jan. 17, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground on Friday, Jan. 13, lying on its starboard side just off the tiny Tuscan island of Isola del Giglio, Italy. As the ship keeps shifting on its rocky ledge, many have raised the prospect of a possible environmental disaster if the 2,300 tonnes of fuel on the half-submerged cruise ship leaks. Satellites are used to monitor the area while authorities are preparing to remove the fuel from inside the vessel. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

This Jan. 17, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground on Friday, Jan. 13, lying on its starboard side just off the tiny Tuscan island of Isola del Giglio, Italy. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

Whoever heard of the Costa Concordia? Now, we all know its name. And the infamy – so far – of its “I’m out of here” captain, Francesco Schettino.

The captain who tripped and fell in a lifeboat. Chicken of the sea, they’re calling him. The captain who did not go down with his boat. Who did not say women and children first. Who was not the last man off the ship. He’s in trouble now. And already part of a long history. Of disgraced ship’s captains who bolted. Of honored captains who stood firm.

This hour, On Point: Captains and their ships. The ones who stayed. The ones who fled.

-Tom Ashbrook


Stacy Meichtry, Rome correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

William Fowler, a professor of history, he teaches courses on maritime history at Northeastern University.

Sam Willis, naval historian and author of 8 books on ships, their crews and captains. He’s the author of Shipwreck: A History of Disasters at Sea.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post “Audio of the captain of a stricken cruise liner arguing with the Coast Guard was made available Tuesday, and five more bodies were found in the vessel grounded off the Italian coast.”

BBC “The captain of the Costa Concordia, which crashed into rocks off the Italian coast and capsized, has been criticised for allegedly leaving the ship while passengers were still on board. Is a ship’s captain legally required to be the last one off?”

Video: Sinking of Costa Concordia

This video shows the stricken ship Costa Concordia, which was carrying 4,000 passengers when it ran aground off the coast of Italy on Friday Jan. 13.

Video: Cruise Ship Oceanos Sinks, Captain Flees

This video shows the Greek cruise ship, Oceanos, sinking off the South African coast on Aug. 4, 1991. The captain and numerous members of the crew fled the vessel, with hundreds of passengers still on board.

Video: Captain Kurt Carlsen

This video shows Danish sea captain Kurt Carlsen who stayed on his sinking freighter the Flying Enterprise for 13 days, before it finally plunged under the ways off the coast of Corwall, England. Carlsen was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City on Jan. 17, 1952.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 24, 2015
An archival image of a McKinley - Hobart Presidential Campaign Poster from 1896. (Public Domain / WikiCommons)

Republican political strategist Karl Rove is thinking about the McKinley 1896 campaign and the GOP field right now. Karl Rove is with us.

Nov 24, 2015
This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 shows fuel tanks  hit during the attack of Russian warplanes in Syria. Russian warplanes on Monday attacked oil extraction, transport and refinement facilities in areas controlled by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

ISIS, Inc. The terrorist organization is raking in billions –from oil, grain, antiquities, and taxes. We look at how to break the ISIS bank. Plus, Turkey downs a Russian plane. We’ll have the latest.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
1 Comment
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »