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.


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