Cruise Ship Captain Admits 'Mistake' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cruise Ship Captain Admits 'Mistake'

Giglio, Italy (CNN) -- In his answers to prosecutors, defense attorneys and a judge, the captain of the ill-fated cruise ship Costa Concordia admitted he made a "mistake" in colliding with rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.

However, in statements made during a phone conversation with a friend earlier this month, Capt. Francesco Schettino said managers pressured him to steer the ship to the area where the collision occurred, two Italian newspapers reported Wednesday.

Both Costa Cruises and authorities have criticized Schettino's behavior. He is under house arrest and faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship when the vessel struck rocks and rolled over onto its side in the waters off the island on January 13.

A 16th body was found Tuesday on the ship. Sixteen others are missing from the roughly 4,200 people aboard the cruise liner -- 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members -- at the time of the collision.

"I hit this projection of rock, that seems almost stuck into the ship, but this was my mistake," Schettino said in the 126-page transcript. "... There isn't anything I can say, as I was convinced that passing within .28 of a mile there wouldn't be any problem.

The captain also brushed aside suggestions that at 15 knots, he was going too fast, as alleged by prosecutors.

"There isn't a speed limit," he said. "... We had more or less the speed needed to reach Savona on time."

According to the transcript, Schettino maintained he ran the ship aground to keep it from sinking. "This is what allowed me to limit the tilting," he said.

Maritime lawyer Jim Allsworth told CNN the maneuver is "fairly standard" in the case of a ship taking on water and in danger of sinking or capsizing. "The best thing to do is to put it aground to stop it sinking."

Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera on Wednesday published excerpts from a telephone conversation Schettino had with a friend after his January 14 arrest.

The captain called his friend from the prosecutor's office, and authorities tapped the phone, the newspapers said. Schettino attorney Alessandro Antichi confirmed the wiretap but would not comment on the conversation. The information should not have been published, he said, as it is part of the investigation. click here to read more

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