Sea captains say they're supposed to stay on board in emergency - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Sea captains say they're supposed to stay on board in an emergency

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- It's a part of the tradition of the sea -- the captain should be the last to leave a sinking ship.

But is it realistic to expect skippers to stay on board, as the lights go out and the water rises, until everyone else has made it to safety? The answer, from mariners around the world, is an unequivocal "yes."

The question is being raised in the aftermath of Friday night's cruise ship accident in Italy. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is accused of abandoning the ship while passengers were still on board. He could face years behind bars.

Jim Staples, who was captaining a cargo vessel near New Orleans this week, says he's "totally embarrassed" by the actions of the Italian cruise ship captain.

A Filipino captain who heads a training center in Manila for seafarers says Schettino should have remained on board "until the last passenger was accounted for."

Craig Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy says, "Some people panic," but they eventually "collect their senses and do the right thing." In this case, though, he says there was "more than enough time" for the panic to pass. He calls it "abject cowardice."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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