Francesco Schettino, the captain of doomed Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia had form before January’s disaster – he once crashed his ship while sailing too fast into a German port.
Francesco Schettino “manoeuvred at a speed of 7.7 to 7.9 knots during entry into the port of Warnemunde, causing damage to the Aida Blu cruise ship”. The incident happened in June 2010.
The captain responded in writing to his employers: “I did not know the speed limit and have not received notification of an infraction from the relevant authorities.”
He said there were “probably other factors” behind the accident.
Francesco Schettino has been accused of manslaughter and of abandoning ship before all the passengers were evacuated after the Costa Concordia crashed into the Italian island of Giglio on January 13 with the loss of 32 lives.
At the time of the German incident Francesco Schettino was captain of the Costa Atlantica, another liner from the fleet of Costa Crociere (Cruises), Europe’s biggest cruise operator based in the port of Genoa in northern Italy.
Francesco Schettino is one of nine people under investigation for the Costa Concordia disaster including three Costa Cruises executives and five other crew members.
Leaked documents published on Thursday contained claims of a hard-partying atmosphere on board two Costa Cruises ships including the Costa Concordia, with officers seen snorting cocaine and getting drunk on a regular basis.
The revelation was made as former Costa Cruises employees told prosecutors investigating the Costa Concordia disaster that officers “took drugs” while on duty and molested female staff members.
A preliminary hearing involving Francesco Schettino is due to take place today in Grosseto with dozens of passengers from the doomed Costa Concordia expected to attend, forcing the venue to be moved from the town’s court to the theatre which has extra seating capacity.
Francesco Schettino was placed under investigation after it emerged he had recklessly altered the Concordia’s course so that he could carry out a sail by salute of the Italian island of Giglio in January but the ship which was carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew hit rocks which tore a 70 metre hole in the hull.
The vessel is now currently lying partially submerged on rocks just outside Giglio harbor while salvage experts continue to pump off more than 500,000 gallons of heavy duty diesel from the ship’s tanks.