Albert Mohler deftly critiques the near sinking of the Costa Concordia:
The sight of the giant cruise ship Costa Concordia listing in the deadly embrace of the sea is now a graphic symbol of failure. Its timing is absolutely eerie, coming so close to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of theTitanic. But, unlike the Titanic, this disaster did not take place in the middle of the ocean, far from the range of observation. The Costa Concordia appears to be almost touching the rocky Italian coastline. . .
And then came the story. It appears that Captain Francesco Schettino deliberately took the Costa Concordia off its assigned course in order to bring the giant vessel dangerously close to the Tuscan coastline so that a crew member could greet his family. During the maneuver, the ship hit a submerged outcropping of rock, tearing a massive hole in the hull. Within seconds, the Captain knew the ship was in trouble, and he brought the fast-sinking ship to rest on a reef, listing heavily on its starboard side.
Within minutes, local authorities launched a rescue operation. Thankfully, the accident took place close to shore, and the captain had been able to crash the ship onto the reef, preventing it from fully sinking. Nevertheless, massive portions of the ship’s interior space quickly filled with the cold and dark water. The death toll could rise to as many as 40 or more. As of Wednesday night, eleven deaths had been confirmed, and another 24 passengers and crew remained missing. . .
A flood of questions immediately surfaced. Why had the captain deliberately taken the ship off its course? What sane captain would bring a massive $450-million vessel with 4,200 passengers and crew into such clearly dangerous waters? Once the ship was compromised, were standard lifesaving practices followed? . . .
An Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, obtained and released a recording of the Italian Coast Guard communicating with Captain Schettino after the accident. . .
The recording makes clear that Captain Schettino abandoned his ship long before most passengers were rescued. Captain Gregorio De Falco of the Italian Coast Guard had discovered that Captain Schettino was not on board his ship, but in a rescue boat. Captain De Falco ordered Schettino to return to his ship and command the rescue operation: “Schettino? Listen Schettino. There are people trapped on board. Now you go with your boat under the prow on the starboard side. There is a pilot ladder. You will climb that ladder and go on board. You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear? I’m recording this conversation, Cmdr. Schettino…” . . .
We are left with the tragic picture of a frightened man who abandoned his post when he was most needed, and consigned over 4,200 human beings in his care to the dark water.
It is a portrait of moral collapse and the forfeiture of manhood.
Thankfully, this was not the only picture to be seen. Manrico Giampedroni, a 57-year-old crew member aboard the Costa Concordia devoted himself fearlessly to the rescue of passengers, returning to the listing ship again and again to find them and return them to safety. He stopped only when he badly fractured his leg and had to be rescued himself. Francis Servel, who attempted to flee the boat with his wife, Nicole, discovered that there was only one life jacket. He put it on his wife, and that was her last sight of him. “I owe my life to my husband,” she said. . . .
Among the monuments on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland is a massive granite marker dedicated to the memory of Commander William L. Herndon. In 1857, Commander Herndon was in command of the commercial vessel Central America, under assignment to the United States government, when it ran into hurricane force winds. Commander Herndon gave everything he had to the rescue of those in his care. He evacuated 31 women and 28 children before the ship sank into the stormy waters off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. He gave his watch to one of the women and asked her to get it to his wife, explaining that he could not leave the ship while anyone remained on board.
Survivors told of seeing Commander Herndon go down with his ship, cigar chomped in his teeth, his head bowed in prayer — a portrait of courage, devotion to his charge, and defiance of fear. Two U. S. Navy vessels have since been commissioned in his memory.
Here we face two radically different men, who made radically different decisions. The decisions we make in the present will determine the kind of decision we would make in the future if we were to face the same challenge. Nothing less than the moral order of the universe is at stake when we consider the difference between Commander Herndon off Cape Hatteras and, off Italy, the Chicken of the Sea.
Read Dr. Mohler’s entire blog article here: