cgnnrw
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Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:37 pm

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.
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Dreadnought
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:47 pm

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.
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rfields5421
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:03 pm

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]
 
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:06 pm

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.
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:07 pm

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?

  
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rfields5421
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:09 pm

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.

 
 
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:37 pm

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 4):
HMS Birkenhead

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MD11Engineer
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:57 pm

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
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janmnastami
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:13 pm

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".
 
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:19 pm

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.
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:22 pm

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.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:30 pm

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
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:42 pm

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.
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seb146
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:59 pm

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.
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:49 pm

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.
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:50 pm

Rule 13:
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747400sp
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:49 pm

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.
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:57 pm

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.
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:21 pm

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.
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ME AVN FAN
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:59 pm

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.
 
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:13 am

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...

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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:38 am

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.
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:47 am

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.

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flymia
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:53 am

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.
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PanHAM
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:19 am

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.

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AR385
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:27 am

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 passengers and the situation has become unsalvageable?

I thought this was part of the Captain´s code too.
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:27 pm

Quoting AR385 (Reply 25):
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 passengers and the situation has become unsalvageable?

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 entire evacuation, that level of emergency was never reached, in this case.

To use the illustration of the Titanic, since everyone is familiar with how that happened, Capt. Edwards would have been justified in saying that in the final minutes when the ship started going vertical, prior to her final plunge. At that point, everyone would have been too busy trying to hang on to something, or jumping into the sea, to attempt to obey any orders or organize themselves.
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connies4ever
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:35 pm

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"?

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 !"
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Quokkas
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:06 pm

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 should go down with his ship.

At all times the captain does have a responsibility for the safe transit of the passengers and crew. In the event of a need to evacuate, he should remain in place to ensure the safe evacuation of all of those under his command unless his own life is imperiled. There is simply nothing to be gained from his drowning, except possibly when it come to an inquest and he is not alive to present any testimony that is critical of the owners.

Even once the captain leaves the ship, he is not absolved of responsibility. If practicable he should remain within the vicinity to superintend and organise the pick up of any other survivors in the water or jumping form the ship, and to co-ordinate their survival until rescue is available. There will be limits as to how far the latter is practicable but in the calm waters of the Mediterranean those limits will not be as circumscribed as in a tempestuous South Atlantic.

The idea gained currency in the late nineteenth century but it was never a legal requirement. In the Birkenhead incident the class of the female and minor passengers may have something to do with it. They were related to the senior military officers on board and they would almost certainly worried more about their families than any general notion of women and children first. Steerage troops were expendable (they were likely to die in battle any way) so they could go down with the ship, but the wife of a senior officer?
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chimborazo
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RE: Is A Captain Suppose To "go Down With His Ship"?

Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:42 am

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 Daytona Beach. It was a beautiful 70 year old wooden craft and we got caught in the back end of a storm and blown out into the Atlantic for 3 days. All good fun.

Quote from my mate when he was explaining what to do with the safety equipment in an emergency:

"If we're going down, pull these tapes here and shove the lift raft off the back, the remaining tie will pull the rip cord and inflate it, then when all three of us are in you use the knife to cut the cord. There's only one rule about using a life raft: you always climb up into it, NEVER step down."  

In other words, make sure it is actually sinking before you decide to abandon!

It kept me warm thinking about it on watch at 2am in 30ft waves and 45kn winds. The boat, 76 year old wooden mast with sail reefed to about the size of a postage stamp, handled it wonderfully.

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