“He was completely lost,” told First Officer Giovanni Iaccarino, the first witness called by the prosecution in the case against the master. “He was out of his routine mental sate. He was under shock. He wasn’t the person I knew.” Further to this statement, Navigation Officer Simone Canessa said that Captain Schettino had shown chronic indecision as he contemplated the loss of his ship. “I was saying to him very insistently that he needed to do something, to give the general emergency signal, but he was telling us to wait,” he told the court. It has been reported that it took the captain about an hour before the order to abandon ship was given.
Speaking to Captain Mike Hitch of motoryacht Golden Odyssey, he highlighted the problem with captains in Captain Schettino’s situation making crucial decisions. “If a captain has a crash, you go into complete shock,” explains Captain Hitch. “Sometimes if you have a car crash, it is not quite an outer body experience, but you feel like you are floating. If you imagine Captain Schettino – this has just happened – I reckon the immediate shock would have been horrendous. The fact that he escaped in a lifeboat is perhaps a little bit unforgivable in my honest opinion, unless his life was in absolute danger, which it probably wasn’t.”
The maritime industry could also be benefitting from procedures followed in the airline industry, Captain Hitch suggests. “The airline industry is very well-prepared for this because when things go wrong, they don’t have a lot of time at all,” he asserts. “So what they do is they work from checklists because checklists will slow you down. When there is adrenaline pumping through you and your mind is racing at 500 miles an hour, the only thing you can do is a checklist. It slows everything down rather than trying to do everything at once because you can’t think straight.”