Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Who Commands?

A ship at sea is commanded by its captain who has absolute power over those on board.  At least that's what underlies so many stories and adventures and, presumably, the concept of mutiny.  It is that absolute power and hence absolute responsibility that enables a dangerous environment to be effectively mastered.

That is what I'd always thought, if I thought about it at all.  But the reports of the shipwreck of the Concordia give another account of who commands.   There seems to have been a complete breakdown of responsibilities.   Having hit the Island of Giglio at 28 kilometres an hour, bringing the ship's speed instantly to 6 kilometres an hour (imagine being inside with no warning, not wearing your  seatbelt would take on forceful meaning) the captain is reported to have got on the phone to the director of marine operations of the company that owned the boat.  And stayed on the phone for three calls-worth plus a call from a retired former captain in Grosseto.  The Second Officer has gone down to the engine room and found it full of water - and all electrical power sources flooded - the only power was a small emergency generator elsewhere in the ship.  He tells the bridge that the ship is without any means of control.  And the captain gets on the phone again.

Time passes: the ship is still upright, it will remain so for nearly an hour, time enough to lower all the life boats.  After 40 minutes of drifting it is driven further onto  rocks and starts to tilt.  The other officers start the evacuation procedures although the captain is still   on the telephone, now denying to the Capitaneria di Livorno that the ship needs help.  He then leaves the ship with another (Greek) officer.

By this time the Carabinieri of Prato!!  (Prato is a few kilometres west of Florence, you couldn't get further from the sea in Italy if you tried) have declared the emergency.    The Capitaneria, having asserted their acquisition of authority over the ship, calls the captain of the Concordia  who is  now safely on the shore and orders him back onto the Concordia to take charge of the evacuation of the people on board.  He takes the first ferry to Porto Santo Stefano.

There seem to have  been two mutinies:  of the officers against the captain, and  of the captain against the Capitaneria.  And a ceding of authority to a commercial organisation, far from the shipwreck,  which was not helping with the timely provision of plans of the ship or accurate lists of those on board.  This is not just a matter of acts of bravado or cowardice or stupidity or  criminality.

Who commands a vessel in Italian waters, or any other waters, and to what laws are they answering?

AND (for those who understand Italian) here is the phone call asserting command (it starts a short way in).  The furious voice speaking in beautiful Tuscan is from the Capitaneria , the Neapolitan voice ordered to put its mouth in front of the telephone and speak up, is that of the captain of the Concordia


Nick Drew said...

strange things happen at sea

paying due respect for the loss of life; this is surely the most glorious metaphor for ... something !

(Eurozone comes swiftly to mind)

Caravaggio said...

Not sure but I wouldn't argue with Capitano de Falco of the Capitaneria di Livorno when he says "adesso comando io"


hatfield girl said...

ND, the curious shipwreck of an American-owned, indeed Miami company-owned, cruise ship doesn't bring the Eurozone to my mind. Miami, cruise industry, southern Italian/Greek-albanian links and officer crew, and ports of call bring entirely other things to my mind.

ps why does your blog continue not to update itself on the links? It's not just Angels; Capitalists@Work is still talking about the rupee on many blogs' links.

hatfield girl said...

Capitano de Falco - he should be in a Pergolesi, Caravaggio. Is there a special term for the sung/shout expression of outrage?

Nick Drew said...

why does your blog continue not to update itself

a very good question HG ! all suggestions welcomed, we, errr ... don't have the tech know-how

*reddens with shame*

hatfield girl said...

On the turn it off and turn it on again principle I thought to delete it and put it back in the hope it would come up with your latest posts.

But what if it didn't come back? You might think I'd stamped off huffily, when yours is favourite blog that clears up all sorts of puzzles - and writes verse.

Nick Drew said...

we deleted the rupee, on the 'switch it off' principle - but no joy

our twitter auto-feed is suffering the same problem

i think we have offended someone in Chi

a musician said...

Dramatic text, eloquence of speech, impeccable pronounciation, force of delivery, variety in the speed of delivery to underline important moments, even beauty of tone: Capitain de Falco's call to Schettino contains all the ideals so dear to Count Bardi and the Florentine Camerata who aimed to restore the supremacy of speech over music, as in Greek tragedy, at the beginning of the 16th century.

Monteverdi developed the Genere Rappresentativo, more specifically recitar cantando (although there was not much variety in Capt. de Falco's tone so cannot really be called singing, still), taking it to great heights; there are moments when Capt. de Falco is reminiscent of Testo in the Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda ("Salga a bordo..."), although of course he doesn't have the continuo instruments backing him.

Capitain de Falco gave the performance of a lifetime and he knew it ("Schettino sto registrando...").

For those who still haven't seen it this is the link with subtitles:

The text and interpretation are improvised, as is fitting with the style. His extraordinary performance has moved the whole of Italy: he is now being hailed as a national hero

a musician said...

sorry, should read "beginning of 17th century".

dearieme said...

Get writing! This could be better than "Nixon in China".