ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

Sponsored By: Two Men and a Truck
cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
73°
Thunderstorms
H 83° L 74°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Thunderstorms. H 83° L 74°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day Created with Sketch.
    83°
    Afternoon
    Thunderstorms. H 83° L 74°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day Created with Sketch.
    78°
    Evening
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 83° L 74°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National
Are captains required to go down with their ships?
Close

Are captains required to go down with their ships?

Are captains required to go down with their ships?
Photo Credit: JUNG YEON-JE
A South Korean Navy's SSU member (R) dives to rescue missing passengers of a capsized ferry at sea off Jindo on April 19, 2014. Investigators on April 19 arrested the captain accused of abandoning the South Korean ferry that capsized three days ago with 476 people on board, as divers finally accessed the submerged vessel and spotted bodies inside. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Are captains required to go down with their ships?

"The captain goes down with the ship" is a line that any seafaring person, or movie buff, would be familiar with. It's the idea that a sea captain holds ultimate responsibility for not only his ship, but everyone on board and will go down with it if that's what it takes. 

For many, the iconic scene  in "Titanic" of Capt. Edward Smith's heroic demise on the bridge was the introduction to the maritime concept. (Paramount Pictures / "The Titanic")

But, unsurprisingly, reality rarely lives up to the silver screen. The captains of Italy's Costa Concordia in 2012 and more recently the South Korean Sewol ferry were far from the last to disembark their ships before they capsized. (Via YouTube / Team BlacksheepVoice of America)

And this isn't a new thing. In 1991 the captain of the Greek cruise liner Oceanos was lambasted after abandoning ship. (Via ABC)

Which brings us to the question: just how serious is the tradition that the captain goes down with his ship?

The modern U.S. code, according to a professor at Florida's Coastal School of Law interviewed byNPR, states that the captain is "legally required to render assistance to every single person trying to get off that ship, and also identify those people who may have been killed in the incident."

ABC notes that while there aren't any international maritime laws requiring a captain to stay with his sinking ship, "many countries either have their own laws or subscribe to international treaties that mandate certain behavior."

One such international treaty is the Safety of Life at Sea convention handled by the International Maritime Organization, which has been signed by both Italy and South Korea. The convention requires that passenger ships have emergency management systems in place. (Via United Nations)

Speaking with the BBC, a former Swedish master mariner noted an unspoken rule: that the captain is to stay on board the ship to direct evacuation in the case of an emergency.

"How would a captain fulfill his obligations if he was not on board? Emergency responses are nearly almost always coordinated from the ship - you have fairly limited options for getting necessary information from a lifeboat."

The New York Times points out it's a complicated code of conduct though, saying that while civil courts in the U.S. have long seen captains as responsible for their crew, "the cases in South Korea and Italy seem likely to test the notion of criminal liability in disasters."

Both captains of the South Korean ferry and Italian cruiseliner are facing criminal charges. But while Francesco Schettino of the Concordia is on trial for manslaughter, Lee Jun-seok is only facing charges for negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill making it easier for parents and residents to challenge school textbooks and school library books. The legislation, which was one of 29 bills signed on Monday, allows parents and residents to review instructional materials and then challenge them as inappropriate before a hearing officer. It was one of five education bills signed by Scott, including increasing funding by $100 per student in the state budget. Scott also signed the bill establishing the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund along with $50 million in repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike. Scott vetoed five bills, including one that would have put warning labels on lottery tickets and advertising. The other vetoed bills deal with electronic wills, community associations, mortgage regulations and state agency information technology organization.
  • A Brentwood, California, man reportedly shot dead two men who tried to rob his home, and the chilling incident was caught on a neighbor's surveillance video. >> Watch a news report showing portions of the video here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised) A neighbor speaking to KTVU, Reggie Nichols, said the homeowner told him that four men tried to break into the home late Wednesday and steal a safe, but he shot two of them dead. According to the East Bay Times, the robbers, who were armed with a pistol, are said to have been in their 30s. The homeowner and the deceased have not been named. >> Read more trending news “I’m ticked off, because this kind of stuff doesn’t happen around here,” Nichols said. “It’s a good neighborhood. It’s been a really long time since something like this (happened).” Police said the man will not be charged, as it appears to be a clear-cut case of self-defense. “The preliminary information shows it to be a home-invasion robbery,” Brentwood police Lt. Walter O’Grodnick said. “Two suspects. One with a firearm. They presented a threat, and the shooting was prompted in self-defense.”
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is encouraging residents to remove valuables from their cars and to lock the doors.  Right now, JSO is trying to identify two individuals wanted for committing multiple auto burglaries in the Captiva Bluff neighborhood.  The two were caught on surveillance pulling door handles of unlocked cars, rummaging through them and ultimately taking whatever they can find.  The suspects were last seen in a white Ford F150.   If you have any information on the suspects you are asked to call police or Crime Stoppers.
  • The most recent robbery was late Monday night in the Sans Souci area when a clerk was shot at On the Rocks Liquor Store. Jacksonville Police says the clerk was shot in the upper right arm and was taken to Memorial Hospital, and is listed in stable condition.  The shooter is still on the run and was last seen going east on University Boulevard with a small handgun. He is described to be a black man around 5’8”. He was wearing a black hat, black shirt, and red shorts. The suspect is also considered armed and dangerous, and if you spot him call the police.  The second robbery was reported at the Smokin Aces Tattoo and Games located on Emerson Street on Friday, June 23rd.  JSO says an employee was shot several times in his back during the robbery. The unknown suspected and entered the business and demanded money.  There is no suspect description for the Friday robbery and it is also unclear what was taken.
  • An Ohio police department hopes that an accidental shooting of an 8-year-old boy will serve as a warning to other parents about safe gun storage. Last week, an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old found a loaded gun in the basement of a Mount Vernon home and started playing with it, according to Columbus police and Raw Story. >> Guns kill nearly 1,300 children a year in U.S., study finds That gun went off, wounding the 8-year-old in the arm. The boy is expected to make a full recovery at Children’s Hospital. Police said a “third party” took the gun from the home before officers arrived.  >> Read more trending news No charges have been filed at this time, authorities said. Columbus police shared information about the incident on social media. 'PLEASE LOCK UP GUNS – We're posting this incident to raise awareness & educate the public,' the department wrote. >> See it here Guns are present in one in three American homes with children in them, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. The Washington Post reports that, on average, two children are incidentally shot by mishandling firearms every week.

The Latest News Videos