The tragic sinking of the ferry in South Korea is sad indeed, but what makes it worse is the fact that the captain, Lee Joon-seok, was one of the first to board a lifeboat and left his passengers to die. This seems to be an alarming trend that is not sitting well with a lot of people. The old maritime law states that the captain goes down with the ship, but it seems like that is no longer the case. As with the wreck of the Consta Concordia, whose Captain, Francesco Schettino, also jumped on a lifeboat, that there is no concern for the passengers or crew, only with saving their own lives.
It has been determined that the captain left a third mate at the wheel of the ferry, a crew member with less than one year experience, who made an aggressive move turning the ship, causing a weight shift that caused the ferry to roll-over. Surviving passengers told authorities that they were told to stay where they were and there was no need to worry, even though the vessel started taking on water at an alarming rate. The total number of people on board was 459, with 325 of them being students. These incidents on the water are becoming far too regular, and it makes one wonder if there will be any changes as far as crew training is concerned. Especially when selecting a captain to be responsible for the lives that have boarded his boat. To have a ship in distress and have the ships captain leave his station and fail to see to the safety of passengers and crew is unforgivable. There is no excuse and no amount of explaining that can justify any such action.
When the Titanic was taking on water, the captain did all he could to make sure that the women and children were safely aboard the limited lifeboats he had, and then, knowing the inevitable was about to take place, calmly went to his cabin and prepared himself to go down with the sinking ship. Whether he was guilty or not, he knew that he was responsible for the passengers on board, and was well versed in maritime law, and showed courage in his final moments.
The death toll from the sinking of the South Korean ferry will be high and that you can be sure of and because of that, the captain should be tried for the crime of dereliction of duty and should get the punishment afforded such actions according to maritime law.