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(CNN) – The captain of the South Korea ferry that capsized with hundreds of passengers on board faces questions amid reports the ferry may have been off course, and turned quickly.
The passengers, many of them teenagers, were told to stay on board, while the captain left the ship.
There is no set protocol for captains and ships in distress, says Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.), former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
"You could make a case that the safest life boat for everybody is the ship itself, if you can save it," said Allen.
"If you can't save the ship, then you've got to be concerned about the passengers and getting them to boat stations, and keeping them dry if you can, or saving them," he says.
The series of decisions the captain of the South Korean ferry made "will be the subject of intense scrutiny," said Allen.
For more of our interview with Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.), check out the video above.