di Marcello Mento
Grosseto, October 8 - The navigator of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship confirmed to a court in the Tuscan city of Grosseto Tuesday that the captain ordered him to change the ship's route on the night of its fatal crash into a rock formation off Giglio Island. The crash led to the deaths of 32 people on January 13, 2012 in one of Italy's worst maritime disasters. Navigator Simone Canessa is the second witness for the prosecution in an trial against ex-captain Francesco Schettino, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges including multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty. Schettino has been accused of ordering the ship's detour as a salute to people he knew on Giglio Island, and has been slammed for allegedly abandoning ship without overseeing the evacuation. Schettino has claimed his image and actions have been distorted by investigators and the media and said his actions on the night prevented the disaster being even worse. ''Before leaving (the port of) Civitavecchia, Commander Schettino told me to wait on the bridge. Then he told me to program a modification of the route Civitiavecchia-Savona to pass next to Giglio,'' Canessa said, responding to prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi's questioning in a Grosseto theatre serving as a court. The prosecutor also played an audio recording of Schettino's voice speaking to Canessa, which was taken in the control room when the ship was still in Civitavecchia. ''So see what speed we have to do. Let's go by Giglio. Let's do this bow to Giglio. Let's go do this f**king Giglio thing,'' Schettino told Canessa in the recording, using the term ''the bow'', which Canessa explained was a practise of making a small detour in the ship's route in order to greet or salute someone. ''In August 2005, we flanked Giglio Island on another ship, in total safety, at a speed of five knots and 100 metres from the coast,'' Canessa said, adding that the captain of that voyage, Mario Palombo, had warned authorities both on land and sea of the maneuver he was making. Canessa testified that he had heard only indirectly why Schettino wanted to make ''the bow'' at Giglio the night of the disaster. ''I had no direct information, but I had heard people say that it was to salute some Giglio residents or someone who worked on the ship,'' said Canessa.