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Italian Coast Guard Official Becomes an Overnight Hero

Thursday, 19 Jan 2012 | 11:43 AM ET
Sinking cruise ship in Giglio Porto, Italy
Getty Images
Sinking cruise ship in Giglio Porto, Italy

If there is a hero coming out of the Costa Concordia tragedy, it's Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco.

He became famous for shouting at cruise shipCaptain Francesco Schettino to get back on board the sinking vessel. "Get on board, d---!" he screams in Italian.

The actual phrase he used is, "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" Many translations have "cazzo" as "dammit", but it actually refers to a man's private parts.

The incident, and the phrase, have become a call to action for those who see Italy and the EU as two sides of one coin—one side acts, while the other collapses. Italians have become so taken with Capt. De Falco's speech that an online clothier is selling T-shirts emblazoned with his famous phrase. The phrase even has its own Facebook page, and has become a popular hashtag on Twitter.

The t-shirts cost about $16.50, and while I can't understand everything the seller is saying on the website, as the page is in Italian, I believe the final statement, "USIAMO TUTTI QUESTA FRASE!!!" means everybody should be shouting "Vada a bordo, Cazzo!" all the time.

Maybe they’re onto something.

As analysts continue to wonder what impact the Concordia tragedy will have on the cruise line industry, some are taking a larger view, comparing the listing ship to the European economy. This cartoon in the New Zealand Herald shows observers of the sinking ship saying, “She ran into a Standard & Poor’s downgrade and keeled over.”

Perhaps Angela Merkel needs to figure out how to say "Vada a bordo!" in Greek.

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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