Italian cruise ship disaster exposes a failure at the top

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What’s the difference between the Costa Concordia and Flight 1549?

From all appearances, the guy in charge.

US Airways Flight 1549 was in big trouble on Jan. 15, 2009. Through no one’s fault, its engines became disabled by a flock of Canada geese, and it was coming down just after takeoff in New York. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger quickly surmised he had to ditch the plane in the Hudson River – and guided the wounded bird to a flawless landing in a part of the river he expressly chose due to its proximity to rescue boats.

Afterward, he walked the plane to make sure everyone else was off before being the last to leave.

The contrast to the Italian cruise ship disaster that killed at least half a dozen and rattled 4,200 late Friday could not be more stark.

This ship was not in trouble, not disabled by a freak accident. Instead, reports allege the captain, Francesco Schettino, had a penchant for buzzing the island of Giglio to put on a show for the islanders – the mayor last August actually thanked the Concordia in writing for the “incredible spectacle” – and that, on this day, the ship was four miles off a well-marked course.

One passenger also alleges the captain was “drinking in the bar with a beautiful woman on his arm” that night. And he is believed to have abandoned ship as passengers were fighting for their lives. He was quickly jailed.

While some ship employees went beyond the call of duty – waiters and dancers helped passengers to safety, even after being advised by superiors to change costume and pretend everything was all right – reports say some in Schettino’s crew bullied their way to lifeboats past women and children.

The tone appears to have been set at the top.

A number of the harried
passengers, wet and cold and having been convinced they were going to die, profess they will never cruise again. And who can blame them? But in truth, this was not so much a nautical disaster as a human
resources one.

Sully Sullenberger proved what having the right person in charge can do in a pinch – which is to avoid disasters; the Concordia shows that, even in calm waters, having the wrong people at the helm can actually induce catastrophe.

The difference between being jailed and hailed, as it turns out, may simply be character.

It may be the distance between a miracle on the Hudson and a misadventure at sea.

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Riverman1 01/17/12 - 06:03 am
Reminds me of Archibald Butt

Reminds me of Archibald Butt to give it a local twist.

augusta citizen
augusta citizen 01/17/12 - 09:24 am
I heard on the radio news

I heard on the radio news this am that the Captain refused to go back on the ship to help with the passenger evacuation. What a jerk.

omnomnom 01/17/12 - 10:00 am
this is a good time for the

this is a good time for the leaders in Augusta media to take a loooooong look in the mirror

Chillen 01/17/12 - 10:06 am
This provides us some unique

This provides us some unique insight into how society has changed - and not for the better. Compare the Titanic disaster to the Costa disaster.

On the Titanic, men stepped aside for women & children - to their own peril. The Captain & the Crew worked tirelessly to save as many people as possible - to their own peril.

On the Costa, men were pushing & shoving women & children to get on boats - it has been described by passengers as "every man for himself". The crew mostly "looked out for themselves".

Selfish and rude is what we've become. It's is gut wrenching to watch.

harley_52 01/17/12 - 12:20 pm
You've nailed it Chillen,

You've nailed it Chillen, again. Thanks to the ultra-left and their ideas about men, their ideas about families, and the public education system they've created and infiltrated, any expectation of "men" being men in the traditional sense will be sadly disappointed.

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