STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Is it realistic to expect skippers to suppress their survival instinct amid the horror of a maritime disaster? To ask them to stare down death from the bridge, as the lights go out and the water rises, until everyone else has made it to safety? From mariners on ships plying the world's oceans, the answer is loud and clear: Aye.
Seamen have expressed almost universal outrage at Costa Concordia Capt. Francesco Schettino, who faces possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship off Tuscany while passengers were still on board.
Capt. Jim Staples, who spoke Wednesday from a cargo vessel near New Orleans, said captains must stay with the ship until the situation is hopeless.
"I'm totally embarrassed by what he did," Staples said.
Schettino should have stayed "until the last passenger is accounted for," said Abelardo Pacheco, a Filipino captain who was held hostage for five months in Somalia and now heads a seafarers' training center in Manila.
The Costa Concordia slammed into a reef Jan. 13. Schettino resisted repeated orders to go back and said he tripped and fell into the water.