(AGI) Rome, Dec 2 - The Costa Concordia shipwreck trial openedin Grosseto on Tuesday morning. Captain Francesco Schettino,the sole defendant, attempted to explain why he steered theliner close to the Island of Giglio on Jan. 13 2012. He said heasked the officer on duty to let him know when they were fiveor six miles from the port of Giglio. He then went to therestaurant, where a table had been booked for him for 8:30 p.m.local time, after telling the officer to slow the ship down. Hetold no-one that he intended to sail towards the island ofGiglio because no arrangement had been made to stop there. Itwas neither a commercial nor a tourist trip. Had the linerstopped, that would have been a different matter. CaptainSchettino remarked several times that it had been a while sincethe accident and that various facts were hard to remember,although liners had always sailed along the coast. He addedthat ships' captains had the right to plan routes, but wereunder no obligation to inform the shipowner. There were noplans to stop in the bay, as a tourist ship might have done. Itwas just a sail-past and therefore there was no need to adviseanyone, although sailing near the island of Giglio was "forcommercial reasons", and this was partly why the ship changedcourse. He also said he had wanted to pay homage to the islandand to retired Costa captain Mario Palombo, who frequentlyvisited the island. He said he was extremely strict about watchprocedures and extremely rigorous when it came to planningstaff rotas. (AGI) . .