January 18th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Ship captain claims he didn't flee, but was 'catapulted into water'

He's under house arrest in Italy, and he's quickly on his way to worldwide pariah status. One British newspaper has even taken to calling Capt. Francesco Schettino "Captain Coward" for showing up safe on land long before passengers and crew had safely evacuated the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship.

It has been widely suggested Schettino may have been "showboating" when he sailed the luxury cruise liner so close to the island of Giglio, where submerged rocks tore through the hull.

Schettino, who has said he will cooperate with investigators, insists the rocks were uncharted - and his lawyer says Schettino did everything he could to preserve the lives of crew and passengers.

And yet today, there are questions about that account of the captain's actions, as CNN reports:

At first, Schettino tells an official he had abandoned the vessel, according to the transcripts, which prosecutors say match those used in their investigation.

But as the official questions his decision, Schettino appears to reverse himself and say he had not abandoned ship but was "catapulted into the water" after the ship ran into a rock, began taking on water and started listing.

In a later conversation, an Italian coast guard official demands Schettino return to his ship, the transcripts show.

"You get on board! This is an order!" the coast guard official instructed Schettino.

"You have declared 'Abandon ship.' Now I'm in charge. You get on board - is that clear?" the port official said.

Filed under: Crime
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