The Captain Who Sank His Ship

Im not sure how many people have been following the recent shipwreck of the cruiseship Costa Concordia? this was an incident where the Captain of this lux liner, decided to show off and sail closely passed the little island where his fellow comrade stayed. It was a risky maneuver, and involved bringing the ship pretty close to the island where it was shallow. This move would both salute the old comrade, and give the guests on the ship, a spectacular view of the island at night…… apparently.

So as you’d expect, the Captain made a mistake during the ‘salute’ and rammed into a pile of rocks that were underwater. during the panic, he made a ‘U turn’, and tried aiming the ship back towards the nearby islands to try and beach the ship.. like a whale. During this maneuver, the ship started to fill with water, and started to roll to its side. the ship kind of sank but got caught up on the shallow seabed of rocks about 300 metres from the dock..and 30 metres from a rock island. the cruise ship is now still currently stuck there, on its side.

While most of the 3000+ passengers managed to get off safely, about 32 people are confirmed dead or missing. The really astonishing part about this whole story, is not about the accident, but about how much flack the Captain has been under since it happened. According to Italian law, the Captain must not abandon his ship, and should escort and help all passengers off, before he abandons the ship. In this case, the Captain left on a life boat with his commanding crew, while there were about 100 people or so left on the ship. By this time, the ship had rolled completely onto its side.

Because of the risky move and the way things turned out, the Captain is deemed to be a reckless coward.

While i agree, that he was pretty reckless, the death toll was less than 1% of the total onboard… and its true that the last attempt to beach the ship near land had brought the ship close to land, and within swimming distance of the island. Unfortunately, being in the world we live in, people’s imaginations start to interfere with reality, and stories about what happened with the Titanic (almost exactly a hundred years ago), began to make headlines in the newspapers as a comparison. Stories like how the captain should have gone down with his ship, and how it should’ve been women and children sent off into life boats first… and by far the most shocking thing i read, as the ship began to turn over, the famous Titanic theme song by Celine Dion was played on the PA system. Oh yes, and there was a story how some rich Russians were dishing out cash to crew, to’secure’ a life boat. Most of this probably isnt true and just made good story articles, but this is the reality that we live in. People find it difficult to distance themselves between make believe and reality.

Now  the ship was quite close to shore. you really could have jumped off the side, and swam to shore, which is what alot of people did. The media unfortunately has blown this story wide open, as it relates to alot of people and their fear of going on a ship…. thanks mostly to the movie that we all saw called ‘Titanic’.

We all live in a world where its sometimes difficult to distinguish reality from what we see in the movies, and with the help of “Litigation”, you can almost always sue someone else for any reason. ..including arb things like almost slipping on a floor in a shop while it is being cleaned. its crazy!

i think sometimes that people forget that we all are governed internally by 2 survival techniques that are the roots of our existence: fight or flight. When a situation arises that may threaten you, you will either fight, or you will run like hell. Being a Captain (or not) of a cruise ship, if you ever saw the sight of water rushing in and your ship going down.. what would you do? most people would like to think that the Captain should remain behind and make sure everyone is safe. We need this.. as humans, we need to have the assurance that someone else will look after us when there is a problem…but is it a very realistic view? Most importantly as well, we need someone to blame.. and this Captain is that guy right now. Remember… less than 1% of people onboard didnt make it out of there.

We live in a time where mistakes, misjudgments, wrong decisions and bad calls just are not acceptable. They can have serious financial and business consequences that can take years to overcome.. if not even close the door permanently. This cruise accident has the potential to cost more to settle legally with the people on board, than to recover, repair and restore service of the ship.

As for the Captain? well, he’ll be branded a coward, and be made an example of why humans are no longer capable of commanding a ship, a plane, a bus or even a train. He will be tried, and possibly even convicted……. and the things he did do right will go down the drain along with his career.

In alot of ways, this entire story can relate to each of our lives. When our lives are the cruise ship….. we’re the captain behind it.

Whether in the past, or present, we all try these extravagant maneuvers to impress everyone, to prove a point, or just to try and make yourself heard…then when things go wrong… its easy to jump ship. we all often look for someone or something to point the blame at. we have all at some time become lost between reality and imagination…and while its very poetic for the Captain to be the hero in our minds… its us as individuals who can be the hero’s…. or zero’s…. when the time comes to act. whether this be a situation where the world almost comes to an end, or a situation where you have a personal issue within your immediate circle that is making someone else’s life a misery.

I sympathise with the Captain of the Costa Concordia. Yes, he made a very big mistake, Yes he put other peoples lives at risk.. Yes, he was wrong for jumping off the ship and leaving a few 100 people stranded. But at the end of the day, it was less than 1% of the people onboard who didnt make it out safely. im pretty sure, that airline and other curise ship captains could only dream of such low death numbers in an event of such magnitude. He is human afterall, and is governed by the same emotions and fears that we all experience. When you mix this with the daily pressures of striving for perfection, doing things out of the box, thinking of new ways to improve the company you work for, trying to stay employed, trying to survive in this crazy race,… accidents will happen.

We are all imperfect, we all make mistakes… and sometimes even when everything seems at a loss, all it takes is a last ditch effort to make the difference needed between ending up a huge disaster, and things ending up totally fine.

So… Captain, how will you react when your life is on approach for a major catastrophe?


pic from: http://www.theatlantic.com 

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