Why must captin be last one off the ship?

I was watching international news on Korean cruise ship capsizing

and all the blame on the captain for "being in one of the first group to be rescued"

Now I understand the whole "captain is responsible for the safety of all passengers before the safety of him/herself" thing, (and this captain made a bad decision on making the announcement for the passengers to stay put)

But in a real life situation, If the ship is sinking, and it's sinking too fast to rescue everyone on board, shouldn't captain save himself?

I mean rescuers will not perform rescue if the condition of the rescue have a great risk of killing themselves. In such case the rescuers are advised for the weather to calm down or something so that there isn't two bodies left at the end (rescuer and victim)

So if the condition of the sinking ship is that not everyone can be saves, then the ones that can be saved should be saved, including the captain, isn't it?


That sound very superficial and idealistic.

I mean, if the ship is sinking on the left side, and there are a lot of passengers on the left side that cannot get out because the ship is tilting and cannot reach the door for exit, and the captain knows this, then the captain cannot leave. Even though he was on the right side of the ship by luck and could be saved, assuming that if the captain went to save the people on the left he will surely die?

6 Answers

  • CMV
    Lv 6
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I really cannot see any justification for a Captain to abandon Ship before he has ensured all passengers and crew that can be evacuated , have been evacuated .

    A number have done so , and Public opinion always treats them with contempt , and usually quite rightly so .

    Al mentions the case of Schettino of the Costa Concordia , but there have been others in History , the incident in the Mozambique channel , where it was ship's entertainers who were left to organise passenger evacuation springs to mind .

    And the fictional case in Joseph Conrad's masterpiece " Lord Jim " , where the crew of the " Patna " abandon hundreds of Haj-bound pilgrims .

    One of the worst real cases was the wartime casualty , the German cruise liner " Wilhelm Gustloff " torpedoed by a Russian Sub in the Baltic while evacuating people from East Prussia .

    She actually had 3 captains on her bridge , the master , a Torpedo-boat Flotilla commander , and a Kapitan-zur-Zee Port commandant - all of whom arrived on the bridge of the single torpedo-boat ( = small destroyer in German navy ) escort , as the Boats Kapitan-Leutnant skipper ( two+a half stripes ) Ironically observed " Dry " ,

    Nobody counted how many evacuees were aboard her , but the best estimates are that over 8 ,000 died that night , making that the worst maritime casualty ever .

    There USED to be a sort of tradition that " A Captain goes down with his ship " but I find that ( as a deliberate act of suicide ) unreasonable behaviour - certainly many captains HAVE gone down with their ships but then as the last to leave , and tending to be older in years , and often waiting until washed off into the boiling pool of air and water in which nothing is bouyant , the captain tends to stand a poorer chance of survival than most .

    And of course the tremendous psychic shock of having lost your ship , and often knowing that passengers and crew for whom you were , are , and will be held responsible for , are now dead or will surely die , is not conducive to personal survival .

    If it turns out that this Korean Captain allowed the instruction to the passengers to keep seated to be broadcast , and then bailed out to save himself , he will have a terrible crime to answer for , and will rightly incur the contempt of any sailor .

  • 7 years ago

    Ever heard the old idiom "A captian always goes down with his ship"? That's because, when the people are on the boat he's captain of, their lives are in his hands. It's his duty to make sure EVERYONE who entrusts him with their life gets off safely, even if he has to sacrifice himself. A captain that fails to lead his crew to safety, or to lead his crew to get his passengers to safety, has sentenced his passengers to death.

    Why? Talk to a captain of a typical cruise ship. They can tell you how long the ship is, how tall it is, how many rooms there are, how many are on inside corridors and how many have water views, how many are on each level and knows how many people are on the cruise. THAT level of intimate knowledge of their own ship is exactly why they should be the last ones off, because he can personally direct rescuers of where to look for trapped people.

    Also, in your hypothetical scenario, well, that just wouldn't happen. You can't have half of a ship sink, unless it's like the cruise liner in Europe that ran aground and listed to the side. And even in that event, it took days for the ship to list and fall like that, it doesn't happen instantly, so people can always be rescued.

  • 7 years ago

    The captain is responsible for leading the crew and the passengers through the whole "abandon ship" procedure. If he/she had trained the crew properly, and then stayed to see that the procedure is carried out correctly, a lot more people would have been saved. Captain must not leave until there truly is no more that can be done, then he/she orders crew to leave, whiie he/she stays to see that the crew get away.

    A captain that runs at the first sign of trouble is a criminal (as the captain of the Costa Concordia is finding out the hard way).

  • 7 years ago

    its no to straight forward. in a case of very quick sudden slinking then its every person for self as a natural survival instinct. however as most ships don't sink immediately but take time civility and social rules etc have time to take place.

    in the case of the Italian ship sinking or rather capsizing or the ferry you refer to.. it is seen as part of a captains requirement to oversee any event affecting ship. passengers or crew.

    to do so he or she must be in place to direct operations etc.

    not so easy from a position of safety or not actually on board. imagine if for example an aircraft landed at sea due to engine failure? if it survived initial touchdown... crew are expected to oversee safe evacuation of passengers and not simply open doors and exit selves.

    same with a ship.. it is a duty of position they hold to overcome own fears and unless it allowed no time to offer assistance to anybody ? ( e.g. sinking in 20 seconds or so) they are expected to use training and position of responsibility to offer orders and advise to those in danger even at some risk to selves.

    if all persons at risk avoided risking them selves.. we effectively have no police. fire service. army etc

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  • 7 years ago

    If a Pilot knows his plane is going down should the pilot just stand up let go of the gear, grab his personal parachute and jump off the plane ??? DUHH the answer is NO.

    It is the duty of Pilots of planes and boats to stay to the last minute to see of they can correct any issues to MAYBE save someones life

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    한국에서 선장과 관계자들이 욕먹는 가장 주된 요인이 무책임한 직업의식과 안일한 대처이기 때문입니다.

    가장 높은 계급을 가진 대표로서도 욕을 먹는 것이지만,

    총책임자중 한명이 가장 먼저 탈출 했다는 것이 국민들의 분노를 불러일으켰지요..


    gymnasium in jindo

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