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Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?  
User currently offlinecgnnrw From Germany, joined May 2005, 1150 posts, RR: 2
Posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8050 times:

Sort of continuing on the Costa Concordia subject......

Is there any legal validity to the phrase about a captain "going down with his ship" or having to be the last to "abandon ship"? Seems like the captain of the Costa Concordia is getting a lot criticism for abandoning ship early. Is there an actual maritime law about when a captain can leave a sinking ship? The fact the captain left when he did doesn't put him in a very positive position but did he break any laws by leaving his ship when he did?

Also, I read some accounts that during the evacuation some people were insisting on "women and children" first. IMO a very sexist, discriminating way to perform an evacuation. Any validity to that? Isn't that one reason why several of the lifeboats from the Titantic were less than half filled because men were expected to make room for women and children? I wonder how many widows and orphans took comfort in the fact their fathers/husbands died being honorable men.


A330 man.
29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinedreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8838 posts, RR: 24
Reply 1, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8048 times:

Quoting cgnnrw (Thread starter):
Is there any legal validity to the phrase about a captain "going down with his ship" or having to be the last to "abandon ship"? Seems like the captain of the Costa Concordia is getting a lot criticism for abandoning ship early. Is there an actual maritime law about when a captain can leave a sinking ship?

There is no law that requires it, but the Captain is responsible for the safety of his pax and crew, and for him to jump into a lifeboat that early is no different than a father running out of a burning building without even trying to make sure that his kids get out first. It marks the captain as "a bounder and a cad".

And that doesn't even take into account the fact that by all accounts, he was directly responsible for the accident. I hope the book that will be thrown at him is hard-bound and very heavy.



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8022 times:

No - a captain is not required by any law to 'go down with his ship' - however, he is responsible for ensuring the safe evacuation of everyone on the ship as long as possible. Once the ship goes into an impossible position, the Captain is like everyone else - trying to save his life.

This ship is not yet in that position even now.

Such justification for a captain leaving is the ship actually sinking - going under water, a fire making it impossible for the captain to remain aboard, etc. Basically when his life is in grave danger if he remains at his duty position.

In this case had the Captain gone into a lifeboat, stayed at the ship side and directed the other lifeboats to rescue more people, taken a very active role in the evacuation process - it would have been unusual and subject to criticism, but not 'abandoning the ship'.

Part of the mystique of the ship captain going down with his ship comes from the reality of the position. Losing a ship is the ultimate black mark on the career of a ship captain. If he can show he did everything possible, maybe he has a chance of a continued career. Most of the time, the captain goes down with the ship because he/she has refused to quit fighting to save the ship/ passengers/ crew until it was too late.

In some cases such as the Titanic, going down with the ship is an act of cowardly suicide rather than facing the authorities and punishment for his responsibility in causing the ship to sink.

Quoting cgnnrw (Thread starter):
I read some accounts that during the evacuation some people were insisting on "women and children" first. IMO a very sexist, discriminating way to perform an evacuation.

"Women and children first" is a relatively new concept - about 160 years old - based on the behavior of many British soldiers when the HMS Birkenhead sank in 1852 off the coast of South Africa. With lifeboats for less than 1/4 of the people aboard, the soldiers remaining on board while the women and children were put in the boats, and mostly saved while the soldiers died - set the tradition. Of course Rudyard Kipling's poem spread the story and helped to establish the tradition.

It is not sexist - but a survival of the species mechanism.

We are programmed by our genetics to save the next generation, and the ones capable of bearing children - all to continue the species.

[Edited 2012-01-17 07:07:50]

User currently offlinebueb0g From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2010, 642 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8010 times:

Quoting cgnnrw (Thread starter):
Is there any legal validity to the phrase about a captain "going down with his ship" or having to be the last to "abandon ship"?

The Captain has a responsibility for all the passengers under his command. In an evacuation, it's his responsilbility to make sure as many people make it off as possible. He can't do that if he's not on the ship. So no, he didn't break any laws but he shirked his responsibility as Captain.

Quoting cgnnrw (Thread starter):
Also, I read some accounts that during the evacuation some people were insisting on "women and children" first. IMO a very sexist, discriminating way to perform an evacuation. Any validity to that?

It's a general nautical standing rule for evacuation, the danger being that some officers in the past - e.g the Titanic - have acted as if the rule was "women and children only", which is not actually the case. The rule/convention was originally created so that children specifically would not end up being crushed in stampedes for the lifeboats. So in a way the original intention has been warped somewhat.



Roger roger, what's our vector, victor?
User currently offlinedreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8838 posts, RR: 24
Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8010 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 2):
It is not sexist - but a survival of the species mechanism.

We are programmed by our genetics to save the next generation, and the ones capable of bearing children - all to continue the species.

In that case it would be logical that the men all try their best to make sure all the women are pregnant before they get on the boats?

  



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8001 times:

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 4):
In that case it would be logical

That is the normal day to day activity of most males anyway. Nothing special required in this type case.

 


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3570 posts, RR: 29
Reply 6, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7941 times:

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 4):
HMS Birkenhead

         That made my day!


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14003 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7911 times:

Take Cpt. Sully as an example: He was the last one to leave the aircraft after he laned it on the Hudson, and before he left with the aircraft´s logbook, he went through the whole cabin to make sure that there was nobody left onboard.

Nobody will demand of the captain to dive into a flooded engine room to check if there might still be some survivors trapped in a possible airbubble, but it is his responsibility to make sure that everybody who can be reasonably be reached, is off the ship.
IIRC, the other watch officers are responsible for other parts of the evacuation, e.g. being in a lifeboat, searching for swimming survivors in the water.

Jan


User currently offlinejanmnastami From Italy, joined Apr 2008, 828 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7899 times:

Quoting cgnnrw (Thread starter):
The fact the captain left when he did doesn't put him in a very positive position but did he break any laws by leaving his ship when he did?

Yes, he did.

According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face jail.

"Il reato di abbandono di nave punisce, con la reclusione fino a due anni, il comandante (e in misura ridotta anche altri membri dell’equipaggio), che, in caso di abbandono della nave non scende per ultimo da bordo. Se dal fatto deriva l’incendio, il naufragio o la sommersione della nave la pena è da 2 a 8 anni".


User currently offlineAirPacific747 From Denmark, joined May 2008, 2389 posts, RR: 21
Reply 9, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7888 times:

I think it is like an unwritten law, that the captain stays till everyone else has been evacuated. Just like it is a rule of the sea that you always help other people in trouble on the sea.

It is a bad behavior not to stay, especially in this case as it looks like the captain didn't follow the rules.


User currently offlinedreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8838 posts, RR: 24
Reply 10, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7884 times:

Quoting janmnastami (Reply 8):

"Il reato di abbandono di nave punisce, con la reclusione fino a due anni, il comandante (e in misura ridotta anche altri membri dell’equipaggio), che, in caso di abbandono della nave non scende per ultimo da bordo. Se dal fatto deriva l’incendio, il naufragio o la sommersione della nave la pena è da 2 a 8 anni".

Well there you go. An Italian captain, in Italian waters, on an Italian ship, this law will certainly apply.

However I think that might be an exception to the rule.



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14003 posts, RR: 62
Reply 11, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7869 times:

What about the other officers? All crew members are supposed to have had emergency training and are supposed to have an emergency station to help in saving the ship or evacuating passengers, who obviously didn´t go through the training. E.g. some might be assigned to lifeboats to operate and lower them, others are trained as firefighters in case of a fire, engine room staff will have bto keep e.g. electrical power running for emergency coms and pumps, etc. Did they do their duty?
I also wonder about trhe story about the electrical failure. All ships I know have an emergency generator located away from the engine rooms, often on dack, aft of the bridge, for emergency power.

Jan


User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8955 posts, RR: 60
Reply 12, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 7847 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
DATABASE EDITOR

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 1):
I hope the book that will be thrown at him is hard-bound and very heavy.

I hope the authorities wait until a proper, thorough investigation is completed and they have all the facts before blindly doing so.



Intentionally Left Blank
User currently offlineseb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11588 posts, RR: 15
Reply 13, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 7814 times:

Quoting janmnastami (Reply 8):
According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face jail

Thank you for bringing that up. I read that over the weekend.

I have been on two cruises and sailed on Washington State Ferries across the Puget Sound many many times. Any time there was any hint of a problem, the safety of the passengers came first. None of the crew ever thought about getting themselves to safety because they have more experience dealing with emergency situations.

On the cruises I took, we had to gather in our emergency areas with the shortest people closest to the rail. Those drills took place within hours of leaving.



Life in the wall is a drag.
User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12457 posts, RR: 25
Reply 14, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 7682 times:

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 11):
What about the other officers? All crew members are supposed to have had emergency training and are supposed to have an emergency station to help in saving the ship or evacuating passengers, who obviously didn´t go through the training. E.g. some might be assigned to lifeboats to operate and lower them, others are trained as firefighters in case of a fire, engine room staff will have bto keep e.g. electrical power running for emergency coms and pumps, etc. Did they do their duty?

I think this falls into the category of "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys".

The results of the investigation should be quite interesting.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7952 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 7608 times:

Rule 13:
Sinking Ship
Ladies and children first!

Follow me,
Your Captain



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offline747400sp From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3600 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7495 times:

I was watching a video on the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria, and in the video, they stated that Captain Piero Calamai wanted to go down with his ship, but his crew convinced him to leave the Andrea Doria near the end. Let see two Italian ship captains, one was brave enough to want to go down with his ship, the other ran like scared dog. May be the captain of the Costa Concordia, could learn something from captain Piero Calamai.

User currently offlinedreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8838 posts, RR: 24
Reply 17, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7484 times:

Quoting 747400sp (Reply 18):
I was watching a video on the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria, and in the video, they stated that Captain Piero Calamai wanted to go down with his ship, but his crew convinced him to leave the Andrea Doria near the end. Let see two Italian ship captains, one was brave enough to want to go down with his ship, the other ran like scared dog. May be the captain of the Costa Concordia, could learn something from captain Piero Calamai.

It was a different age, I'm afraid. In the old days, a ship at sea was a world unto itself - you didn't have satellite TV and phones, just maybe a single ship-to-shore line or telegraph available through the ship's communications officer at a steep price. Accordingly captains were nothing less than God on board, in charge of everything. Nowadays a ship's captain is seen as little more than a hotel manager, and the old mentality of pride and responsibility has taken a back seat to simply doing a job.



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31679 posts, RR: 56
Reply 18, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7438 times:

Ideally since the Captain is responsible for his crew & pax, its normal that he would ensure all Pax are evacuated before leaving the ship finally.


Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineME AVN FAN From Switzerland, joined May 2002, 13920 posts, RR: 25
Reply 19, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 6574 times:

Quoting cgnnrw (Thread starter):
the phrase about a captain "going down with his ship"

The actual phrase is NOT to "go down with his ship" but to be the last to LEAVE the ship. As much as this will include the risk to go down, it most of all simply includes that the captain stays on board until everybody is off board, and then will join the last group of people getting out.

To give a nice example. The "animator" for the children, when the catastrophe became apparent, carefully put ALL the children into lifeboats, and when the last one had been secured, he left the ship also. The chap, hardly aged above 25 and of small and slim physical stature, has become a kind of "hero" in Italy. He when being on TV became the darling of millions of mothers who admired this potential "son-in-law", exactly because he neither did anything really risky nor wanted to get down with the ship, but simply tried to do what he apparently saw as his duty.

What made that Coast-Guard commander in Livorno so furious was not that the Captain tried to survive, but that the Captain and the 2nd officer and the 3rd officer were OFF board so unbelievably early. I might expect the captain to stay on board as long as possible. If the Captain then gets off at the last moment, alright.


User currently offlineswissy From Switzerland, joined Jan 2005, 1734 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 6565 times:

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 19):
What made that Coast-Guard commander in Livorno so furious was not that the Captain tried to survive, but that the Captain and the 2nd officer and the 3rd officer were OFF board so unbelievably early. I might expect the captain to stay on board as long as possible. If the Captain then gets off at the last moment, alright.

Agree

I can see if the situation is helpless to safe any more lives... but he just ditched the ship on the beach and off he went with his high ranking staff, while 100's of guest still were on board on the beached ship...just like the ship in south Africa.. were the captain could not get fast enough of the ship and some pax and staff were left getting everyone safe off...

cheerios,


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6520 times:

Quoting 747400sp (Reply 16):
I was watching a video on the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria, and in the video, they stated that Captain Piero Calamai wanted to go down with his ship, but his crew convinced him to leave the Andrea Doria near the end. Let see two Italian ship captains, one was brave enough to want to go down with his ship, the other ran like scared dog. May be the captain of the Costa Concordia, could learn something from captain Piero Calamai.

Officers in the Imperial Japanese Navy took it to the next level in some cases. They had themselves tied to the ship.


User currently offlinegreasespot From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 3079 posts, RR: 20
Reply 22, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6517 times:

I think there is a point where the captain has done all that he can. Remember he is the "Expert" and knows his ship best. Once they hit that point I think it comes every man for themselves.

Falling onto a lifeboat and under a blanket is not that point.

GS



Sometimes all you can do is look them in the eye and ask " how much did your mom drink when she was pregnant with you?"
User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7147 posts, RR: 9
Reply 23, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6511 times:

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 7):
Take Cpt. Sully as an example: He was the last one to leave the aircraft after he laned it on the Hudson, and before he left with the aircraft´s logbook, he went through the whole cabin to make sure that there was nobody left onboard.


Exactly what I was going to say. That is what a captain is suppose to do. Make sure everyone is off and safe. Until that ship or airplane in Sully's case is under water the captain has a duty to make sure the safest evacuation possible is on going.

Quoting janmnastami (Reply 8):
Yes, he did.

According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face jail.


Exactly, every country will have different laws. I know Italy has some abandon ship law, which I read Italy is charging him with.

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 17):
Nowadays a ship's captain is seen as little more than a hotel manager, and the old mentality of pride and responsibility has taken a back seat to simply doing a job.


I know what you mean, but this mentality is hopefully not one any cruise line or captain has, and the latest incident is a perfect example. Ship captains need to be en-charged of every life on that ship, and make the right decisions. Something which did not happen here.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9330 posts, RR: 29
Reply 24, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 6474 times:

Quoting flymia (Reply 23):

Exactly, every country will have different laws. I know Italy has some abandon ship law, which I read Italy is charging him with.

It is an "unwritten" law that the captain stays on board as long as possible. The captain is the only authority to order evacuation and he is the only authority to finally abandon ship. It is his duty, especially to make sure that all souls on board are rescued.

The ship was in Italian territorial waters and under Italian flag. Schettino did not do what he was supposed to do and he will face punishment for that.

.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
25 AR385 : Isn´t it too the Captain´s responsibility to also utter the command "Every man for himself" once all is said and done as far as saving the passenger
26 dreadnought : Yes, but only once his situation is untenable and he is unable to exert any sort of control. Considering that this ship stayed above water during the
27 connies4ever : Thread title reminds me of a line in a Martin Mull comedy album: "And so I told her: wharf ? I said go down on the dwarf !"
28 Quokkas : I am not going to enter into the details of the Costa Catastrophe but there is neither any requirement or benefit in the notion that the captain shoul
29 Post contains images Chimborazo : 15 months ago I had my first "proper" experience on the sea (other than a ro-ro to France). I was lucky enough to help sail a yacht from Salem to Dayt
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