Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia ship which ran aground killing more than 30 people, claims a "divine hand" guided him during the disaster, preventing greater tragedy.
In a letter explaining his version of events, published in Italy's La Corriere della Sera newspaper, he defended his actions after the ship struck rocks and capsized off the coast of Tuscany in January.
He was able to make the claims after being released from house arrest.
Schettino faces charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandonment of his vessel.
He has publicly denied all these charges, claiming the reef that tore into the Concordia was not on his navigational charts.
In the letter, Schettino said it was only when he saw "white foam" that he realised how close the ship was sailing to the rocks.
"That was the sign that led me to give the order to steer starboard, by pure instinct. In that moment a divine hand no doubt rested upon my head. If I had continued on that path we would have hit the rocks with the bow. It would have been a catastrophe," he said.
Although he made brief statements to the Italian press immediately following the disaster, Schettino has, until now, been unable to speak freely due to the terms of his house confinement.
Meanwhile, experts in Italy are continuing to sift through evidence and will present it to the court later this month.
by Gretchen Kelly and Bev Fearis
Friday, July 6, 2012