1. Monsieur R says

    The laws of the sea requires the Captain to make sure everyone is rescued out of the boat before himself. If you do not respect that law, you should not be a Captain.

  2. James E. PIetrangelo, II says

    It certainly seems that the Captain cowardly and illegally saved himself from the stricken ship–and if that be actually true, he should be thoroughly condemned and punished–but, like in all situations, we should wait for the full facts and consider the situation fairly. There does not appear to be an actual law that says that the captain must be the last person to step off a vessel in distress. There is lore to that effect, and I think the Merchant Marine Officer’s Handbook expressly says that, but the actual law says basically that the captain must ensure the safety of his passengers including while abandoning ship. It does not say from where and how he does that. There may be circumstances–and I emphasize “may”–where a captain can better protect his passengers from a lifeboat. It must be remembered that danger to the passengers does not end once they are in the lifeboats. For example, if the majority of passengers have been gotten into the launched lifeboats, conditions as to remaining passengers on the ship are unknown/unknowable, and the passengers in the lifeboats face conditions as dangerous or more dangerous than those on the ship, the captain can arguably save more lives by controlling the lifeboats. This is particularly so if the captain does not know that anyone still remains on board. As the Coast Guard transcript reveals, the Captain in this case mentioned how dark it was. I guess the best way to imagine the point I am making is to put yourself in a darkened ship that is on its side. You have little to no communications. As a captain, would you spend your time walking through the entire massive cruise ship to verify that everyone is off–a task that would take days–or would you effectively supervise the evacuation of passengers and once you believed everyone was off, shift to a lifeboat yourself? I am not defending the Captain, because it seems that the accident was caused in the first place by reckless steering, but we should look at all the circumstances before rendering judgment.

  3. Booka says

    Circumstances might be different for each emergency on the sea. Still, even a child knows it has, and will always be; a captains sacred obligation to stay on his ship until every reasonable effort has been made to evacuate passengers. Captain Smith on the Titanic might have wished he could crawl into a warm safe lifeboat, but he stayed to take responsibility. There is NO excuse good enough in this situation to relieve this slimy bastard from his duty.

  4. GregV says

    I always find the idea of saving the “women and children” to be insulting to both sexes in different ways.
    First of all, it suggests that women are more helpless or confused in this situation than other adults (being in the same category as children). There are plenty of sedentary, octogenarian men on such a cruise ship who would be more hopeless trying to swim to shore than a lot of the women.
    Second, it’s insulting to males as it seems to suggest that it is less of a tragedy if a man is injured or dies.

  5. Marty says

    Unless the captain is “Aquaman” he’ll drown like the rest of them. It may sound good to say “go down with the ship” but not too many people would actually do it. Even if it were some “law” which I doubt it is…I’d rather SIT in jail than LAY in a coffin…just sayin’

  6. TJ says

    GREGV – Evolutionary Psych would probably point to children as the next generation, and women as brooders; all important to the survival of the species. After all, one male could impregnate many females, so not many males need survive. Whatever. I have to agree with you, though. Heros come in all genders. Why assume only men are capable of toughing it out? And isn’t it weird that men are considered so expendable, in disaster, or in war? One could go back to E.P., but have we not yet evolved, at least intellectually, past what some might consider basic survival instinct? Lord knows, I’ve had and have hopes and dreams. And feelings. Why me first to die?

  7. James E. PIetrangelo, II says

    Booka: you talk about “crawling into a warm safe lifeboat” as if you know for sure that the Captain and his officers jumped in the lifeboat at the first hint of danger to save only themselves. But you weren’t there, were you? So how do you know how it went down? When and under what circumstances did the Captain get in that lifeboat? That is still the question. I remember back in the 90s when people jumped on the media bandwagon in condemning another person who “appeared” to be a villain, and it turns out he was not only completely innocent, but was actually the hero of the situation. Do you remember Richard Jewell, and the Atlanta Olympics. Your concept is more myth than reality. The duty of the captain of a ship is to do everything humanly possible to ensure the safety of the passengers. Period. All things being perfect, he should be the last person to leave the ship; but nothing is ever perfect. If the Captain actually acted illegally or even immorally, then let’s condemn him, but let us not condemn him on the basis of lore. The captain of the Titanic remained because he knew that passengers were still on board and would perish. It is still not clear that when the Captain of this cruise ship went into the lifeboat, that he knew that passengers remained or could have known that passengers remained. It is also questionable that his being in the lifeboat was an attempt to even save himself, as the cruise ship was not sinking; it had turned on its side. Arguably, it was safer to remain on ship (at least on the side of the ship that was not submerged), than to get into a lifeboat. Scores of people lost their lives; we should not ruin the life of another simply on the basis of jingoistic sea lore. Let’s get the facts.

  8. says


    The “situation” was that the captain put the ENTIRE ship at risk by going too close to the shore, so the head of the waiting staff could wave at his father, who lived on the island.

    Under that “situation,” causing the ship to sink by making a bone-headed decision and causing the deaths of over a dozen people, you wouldn’t be willing to stay on board until the last possible moment, ensuring everyone could get off that ship that was humanly possible?

    As others have stated, if a captain isn’t willing to be the last person off the ship, they probably shouldn’t be a ship’s captain… but I’d say that goes doubly so for someone who makes rash decisions to please one friend that puts at risk 4,000 people. That captain is a hack and a creep and a murderer, and the cowardice he displayed by refusing to stay on board at least as long as he could is only matched by his total lack of respect for human life, by putting everyone at risk in the first place.

    As far as I’m concerned, that captain should never again see the light of day.

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