So, it’s all gone quiet on the capsizing ship front. It seems the Captain of the doomed Italian liner, Costa Concordia fell off the ship and into a lifeboat! Francesco Schiettino says he was at the helm when disaster struck but later fell into the sea and couldn’t get back on board. He actually sat on the rocks and watched the rescue operation, so he didn’t run that far really, he swam I suppose. But who are we to doubt the sincerity of his statement? Well me actually, being a cynic.
That’s old news, why is he ranting about that shit? You may have asked!
“Cos I got to thinking about another ships’ captain who did a runner. Dateline 1991, ships name Oceanis, sank off the coast of South Africa. In this case the captain also left the ship before the passengers and you can watch the you tube video here.
The Captain was accused of abandoning passengers on the ship, Captain Yiannis Avranas had this retort though: “”When I give the order abandon ship, it doesn’t matter what time I leave. Abandon is for everybody. If some people want to stay, they can stay.”
Avranos later claimed that he returned to ship and that he only left so as he could get help and organize the evacuation from a helicopter, which in fact he did – well he returned and watched from a helicopter at least.
Oh where was the spirit of the Birkenhead with these guys? Was Capt. Smith the idiot for not treading on women and children on his way to the lifeboat as the Titanic slowly slipped to infamy?
Now it’s just not in my nature to offer a plausible explanation for the behaviour of either the Italian or the Greek, and of course I would never indulge in coarse stereotypes, I’d never rip both apart as incorrigible cowards and refer to a WWII rifle, never fired, only dropped twice.
If you’ve ever been involved in a traumatic situation where you felt your life was in danger, you may be familiar with a twitching in your leg, an increase in your heart rate, an increased awareness of all around you. This is the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism, a trait we inherited from our ancestors, mostly to save us from the ravages of a really scary predator such as Jehovah’s witnesses or an elderly Madonna, or even a raptor from Jurassic Park. It’s located in the cortex, the reptilian part of our brain, and can only be overcome by training.
Is it just possible that both of these captains shit themselves, due to their innate fight or flight mechanism kicking in? And that later, realizing the ramifications of their actions, both sought to get closer to the scene of abject failures, in Avranos’s case, by returning in a Helicopter, and in Schiettino’s case, by sitting on the rocks barely 50 meters from his failure.
Fight or flight, and the adrenaline rush it brings, can be controlled, but only through repetitive training and awareness of what is actually happening to the body, then it can be channeled and used, but without that training, we’re all putting on our fastest Asics and heading for the hills.
Should we judge them? Yes, because they are supposed to be above the naked reaction stage, that is left for passengers.