Francesco Shetino, the captain of the doomed cruise ship Costa Concordia and the man now at the center of one of Italy’s worst maritime disasters, is currently under arrest.
Francesco Shetino faces possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning a ship, accusations he denies.
Francesco Shetino is 52 years old and his life is dominated by the sea.
Born in the coastal town of Castellammare di Stabia, near the southern city of Naples, Francesco Sketino attended a maritime institute in the nearby town of Piano di Sorrento.
Little is known about Francesco Shetino and his family, who are in Naples, in the city of Meta. His family members said they no longer gave press interviews. Francesco Sketino lives in Meta with his wife and 15-year-old daughter.
But speculation is swirling about how the Costa Concordia, the huge ship he captains, an almost sailing city of 4,300 passengers and crew, ended its voyage on land and on the sidelines, meters from the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Francesco Shetino joined Costa Cruises in 2002, initially as a security official. He was promoted to captain in 2006 after serving as second commander.
As reports of an unplanned change of course and a horrific and chaotic evacuation process multiplied, the company quickly distanced itself from the captain, who it said had made “serious miscalculations.”
Costa Crociere CEO Luigi Foschi said Francesco Chetino had changed a pre-programmed route to make a maneuver that was “unauthorized, unapproved and unknown to Costa”.
“The master has the authority to make decisions on board.” In this case, the captain decided to change the route and he went into waters he did not know in advance. “ Luigi Foski said.
Italian newspapers have suggested that the change of course may have been a bold diversion, something like a naval tribute to one of the crew members, who was from the small island.
The reason for the drastic change in the route will be revealed only by the criminal investigation, but in a television interview given hours after the ship capsized, the shock and distrust of Francesco Shetino is clear.
“I firmly believe that the rock was not shown,” he tells the reporter, seemingly distrustful of what happened.
“We didn’t hit him with the bow of the boat, but from the side, as if this rock had a spike under the water. I don’t know if it was raised or not, but the nautical chart says we should have had deep water under us. […] We were about 300 meters from the rocks, more or less, we didn’t have to hit anything. “ Francesco Szczecin said.
In an earlier interview, Francesco Shetino was full of confidence in his abilities and the technology that underlies modern cruise ship travel. But some of his words may come back to haunt him.
“I wouldn’t want to be the captain of the Titanic, forced to navigate between icebergs.” Francesco Shetino told a reporter for the Czech newspaper Dnes in 2010.
“But I think that with the right preparation, any situation can be overcome and any problem can be prevented.” he added.
Asked if the 1997 Titanic discouraged people from going on a cruise, Francesco Shetino’s answer was: “Fortunately, people quickly forget the tragedies. It’s like plane crashes. Everyone thinks this can’t happen to them. ”
As the accusations against Francesco Shetino grew, there were those who defended themselves by creating a Facebook page with 1,500 fans.
Many are sailors themselves, commenting on how Francesco Shetino’s decision to direct the ship to port after it collided with the rock probably saved dozens of lives.
According to an interview with the Naples-based newspaper Il Matino, quoting his sister, the first person Francesco Shetino called after the incident was his 80-year-old mother Rosa.
“He called her at five on Saturday morning to tell her that there had been a disaster, that he had tried to save as many passengers as possible and not to worry because it was all over.” said his sister.