Thursday, 19 January 2012

Is the sea - a "sea wall" - or a sea trap?

I read this article on Captain Schettino's actions on Friday by Theodore Dalrymple entitled "Should a Captain go down with his ship", not least because it claims Schettino abandoned ship in the dark, not because he is "Captain Coward" (as the angry Italian press have been calling him) but because, unlike the Captain of the Titanic, he was born in the 1960s, rather than the 1860s - when one expected to live a short life.

The story of the Costa Concordia has traumatised many of us in England, possibly for the following reasons:

  • we love ships and to see a beautiful ship ruined on rocks is a terrible thing for us ("Lloyds of London" insures many of them)
  • such a tragic loss of life, such a terrible escape route, such opposite male manners to those on Titanic - and yet, such a better ending than Titanic
  • cruises are taken by our wealthy elderly and disabled, who cannot clamber down ropes dangling down the bottom of a ship 
  • we are subconsciously "a marine culture" - our great novelists give sea captains heroic, salt-sea faces - and the land behaviours of "saviours"
  • we celebrate our Monarch on water and include little boats from the "Dunkirk evacuation" in her watery retinue
  • our ancestors created a deep narrative of seagoing men as sober, tough and self- sacrificing men.
  • the sea around these island is adored by Shakespeare as "our sea wall" not our "sea trap".
As a result of Costa Concordia, the English now fear the sea more - which they have to cross to get anywhere else, unless they fly. Perhaps we islanders had to create "heroic Captains" or we would never have travelled the world?

Lloyds of London may have insured "Costa Concordia". It has researched and found satellite footage of the ship sailing even closer to Giglio last August...Did the company sanction this deviation? Now we hear from Italy, always 24 hours ahead in terms of news, that the cook claims the Captain wanted to "have his pudding" served in the restaurant while the ship was already listing....

The mystery thickens.

The heroic story of the Giglio mayor - and a courageous junior officer left on the ship who felt it their duty can calling to save women and children long after the ship's officers had all departed.

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