Captain Francesco Schettino
Captain Francesco Schettino (C) of cruise ship Costa Concordia is escorted into a prison by police officers at Grosseto, after being questioned by magistrates in this still image from a video January 17, 2012. Reuters

The name Francesco Schettino will be long remembered for abandoning the sinking Costa Concordia instead of overseeing the rescue operations for the 4,200 passengers on board.

But maritime history has more than one instance of Schettino-like captains who put their lives before those of the passengers or simply left people to the mercy of fate.

"The story of captains abandoning sinking passengers is as old as ships. They are only human," Discovery News quoted Andrew Lambert, a professor of naval history at King's College, London, as saying.

Two similar incidents were reported in the 19th century when the captains of ships left passengers to fend for themselves.

In the first incident, Hugues de Chaumareys, captain of the Senegal-bound French ship Medusa escaped the sinking ship which hit the reef on July 2, 1816.

De Chaumareys fled the scene in a life boat with some of the affluent passengers on board, leaving 147 people in the sea on a makeshift raft. Later the raft, which was towing behind the convoy of lifeboats, was cut free at the orders of the captain.

Only 15 of the 147 passengers were left alive when the raft reached the shore after overcoming 13 days of horror on the sea.

"Raft of the Medusa," a painting by the renowned French artist Theodore Gericault was inspired by this shocking incident. The art work is on display at the Louvre Museum, Paris.

A similar incident involved the steamship "S.S. Jeddah," a vessel owned by the Singapore Steamship Company. The ship started from Singapore for Penang and Jeddah on July 17, 1880.

It ran into rough weather in the Bay of Bengal and captain Joseph Clark abandoned the leaking ship mid-sea with nearly 1,000 Muslim pilgrims on board.

Though the captain reported the ship as "lost," the passengers reached the shore after being towed by another vessel. The incident is believed to be the inspiration behind the novel "Lord Jim," by Joseph Conrad.

Francesco Schettino, the 52-year-old captain of capsized Costa Concordia, is currently under arrest for charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.