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Costa Concordia Cruise Ship on July 24, 2014 Departs Porto Santo Stefano, Giglio, Italy,      P.S.Stefano_panorama

On Thursday, July 24th, 2014, the Italian Cruise Ship Costa Concordia departed Porto Santo Stefano, Giglio, Italy, en route a port in Genoa, Italy, where it will be salvaged.

On Friday, January 13, 2012, Cruise Ship Costa Concordia, sailing in shallow waters off the coast of Tuscany, Porto Santo Stefano, Giglio, Italy, ran aground.  Captain Francesco Schettino, was arrested for the maritime disaster, multiple counts of manslaughter, abandoning ship, and is currently on trial in 2014 in a court in Grosseto, Tuscany.
Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Captain Francesco SchettinoIn 2012, reports stated if the Costa Concordia had been on its approved course it would not have encountered the rock clearly mapped on the route and that maybe the Captain was performing an extremely close to shore sail to impress the residents there he knew who could wave to him as the ship sailed by.  Regrettably, the ship hit a submerged rock, causing a 160-foot cut to its hull allowing a rapid rush of water to enter the ship.  The ship then navigated even closer to shore to initiate an eventual emergency evacuation procedure, but then unexpectedly ran aground on a tiny island of Giglio near the coast of Tuscany.  Because of this many of the life boats could not be launched.

The dramatic photographs released by morning, Saturday, January 14th, showed the luxury liner off Giglio’s coast partially submerged, and resting on its side.

The most significant questions Captain Francesco Schettino will need to answer in court for the prosecution and families is what emergency procedures were implemented Friday, Jan 13th in the evening when the ship first hit the submerged rock.  But first, did the Costa Concordia veer away from its scheduled course?  Secondly, when the Costa Concordia began to take on water and there were clear indications of hull damage, was the Italian Coast Guard alerted of damage onboard?  Next, what were the sequence of decisions made leading up to the May Day Distress Signal?  Answers to these questions may give light as to how seriously those in charge onboard were paying attention to the navigation of the ship and subsequent implementation of safety protocols once a hazardous situation was first detected.

An early distress signal to appropriate authorities would have undoubtedly allowed crew and passengers to prepare themselves early for an emergency evacuation procedure and deploy all the life boats safely.  It would have also allowed both crew and passengers time to respond calmly to the emergency.  Finally the most important point is had the Costa Concordia leadership alerted officials when hull damage occurred, passengers onboard may have been rescued promptly by emergency maritime responders.  In retrospect it would appear emergency procedures were delayed for some reason so the trial will hopefully address these questions.

  1.  Why was the ship off course?
  2. When the ship hit a submerged rock that resulted in hull damage did the crew implement emergency procedures?  Or, was the ship just maneuvered closer to shore?
  3. At what time did the Costa Concordia hit the submerged rock and at what time was the Italian Coast Guard alerted?

Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Captain Francesco Schettino [II]


During this time it was also greatly speculated the Captain was aware of the grave difficulties onboard, yet instead of sending out a May Day Signal and launching life boats, the Captain decided to wait.  The Costa Concordia sailed even closer to shore so life boats could be launched there the Captain explained……. so passengers would stand a greater chance of rescue.  It may have worked but instead the ship was taking on enormous amounts of water and once closer to shore the ship was on its side so now only half the total number of life boats were even accessible to passengers.

As reported the May Day was not activated until the ship got closer to shore and experiencing trouble with evacuation procedures.  There were signs of trouble long before so a significant delay occurred.

Costa Concordia Cruise Ship


Initial reports of several fatalities were made by the Italian Coast Guard, and Italian News Agency.  Meanwhile, there were up to 70 people who were unaccounted for among the 4,300 passengers and crew estimated on board.  Each day the number of confirmed fatalities continued to grow larger.  It was both chilling and cruel to hear Television News updates speculate that many passengers either simply could not reach a life boat, or had to abandon ship by jumping off the ship into the cold water below and then swim to shore for survival.  It is believed this is how many had to save themselves because the ship was resting on its side so life boats could not be deployed, and for those rafts that could be deployed, there were not enough.  By that time it would have become clear room on so few rafts was limited triggering everyone onboard to jockey for a seat.

In the days that followed, first-hand accounts from passengers onboard reported when all the chaos was occurring, the boat severely leaning to one side, they heard an announcement over the loud speakers to “return to your cabins.”  Those that did not adhere and made way to the life boats many were attempting to make sure “all woman and children into the life boats first,” but reported sheer chaos and it quickly became everyone for themselves.

As survivors recounted their experience, short-term memories were already forming with vivid emotional detail containing several sensory modalities of what they experienced which have the potential to form a heavy neurological imprint;  [Something not easily forgotten and has the potential to bind as it were with a strong emotion often negative].  Those most vulnerable to developing Post Traumatic Stress it mostly rests on the severity of the trauma exposed to, type, and circumstances of the traumatic event.  Not everyone exposed to trauma will develop complications and some are more vulnerable than others depending on one’s personality, or brain physiology.  So, support in the form of talk is valuable.  It is always wise to err on the side of caution and seek professional Mental Health assistance if a person has prolonged symptoms they are concerned about and negatively impact daily living.


A Survivors Account:  “We were crawling up a hallway, in the dark, with only the light from the life vest strobe flashing,” said Ananias’ mother, Georgia Ananias, 61.    “We could hear plates and dishes crashing, people slamming against walls.”

Want to read more on how one passenger is doing two years after surviving the shipwreck?  Olivia Goldhill has written an article on Rose Metcalf, 25, a dancer on the Costa Concordia.       Article:  Costa Concordia may have been refloated but my life’s still in ruin

The Human Toll

Deceased  2014:      33

Injured:                  64

2012:   The total reported was  25 deceased, but then in 2013 Search and Rescue efforts discovered 5 Missing Bodies.  This brought total bodies found to 30.   All 5 were found in spaces between the hull and the seabed.   2 remain missing presumed deceased.

Salvage Efforts:        1 Salvage Team Crew Member Died while on the job

In this VIDEO The Final Voyage of the Costa Concordia by reporter Ina Spogahn July 26, 2014, she travels to Giglio and interviews a young engineer working on the salvage operation in the final days before it departed to a Genoa scrapyard.   She also interviews a local  hotel owner who shares her personal experiences about the Costa Concordia.


The Human Toll Emotionally

From a Mental Health prospective it is safe to say all those directly impacted by being onboard the Cruise Ship Costa Concordia maritime disaster in Porto Santo Stefano, Giglio, Italy, will be impacted, as well as those who were on the peripheral;  residents in town and neighboring towns, emergency first responders and dispatchers, and later salvage crews.

If you, a partner, or someone you are close to is in some way negatively impacted by the Costa Concordia Cruise Ship 2012 catastrophe, seek or offer support.

As with any tragic and traumatic event from a Mental Health prospective limiting the amount of lasting trauma is paramount.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur in anyone who experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event that causes feelings of intense fear or feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Memories can be extremely vivid and powerful.  Our Limbic System which contains the Amygdala and Hippocampus responsible for emotions and memory respectfully, allow humans to form Emotional Memories.   The Emotional Memories we form as a result of the exposure to a traumatic event is what either does, or does not contribute to developing significant Mental Health symptoms in the months and years to come.

Survivors will need support and the freedom to talk about events at their own pace, which most research indicates is most important to processing a traumatic event.

::::   Until Next time: à Donf   ::::

Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyDDr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD — Psychologist with one simple goal of making concepts of psychology accessible. || Follow  Twitter   Read more about   Psychological Précipice on Amazon.