The disgraced captain of the Costa Concordia said his orders were not followed the night the luxury cruise ship crashed into a reef and capsized, leaving 32 passengers dead.

In a rare public interview, Francesco Schettino spoke out about the 2012 shipwreck, putting responsibility for the crash on the ship's helmsman.

While Schettino has admitted he took the vessel and its 4,200 passengers off course, he said in the interview that he ordered the helmsman to turn the ship to the left, but the sailor turned to the right instead.

Schettino is currently facing multiple criminal charges in connection to the ship disaster, including manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before the evacuation of all its passengers had been completed.

If convicted, Schettino could face decades in jail.

Five crewmembers implicated in the shipwreck have already pleaded guilty.

The interview was conducted by Italy's consumer protection agency, which has launched a civil lawsuit on behalf of survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster. The agency spoke to Schettino as part of the evidence-gathering process.

The lawsuit argues that it’s not just Schettino who's responsible for the crash, but that the owners and builders of the ship were also negligent.

The interview comes days before an unprecedented operation to refloat the Costa Concordia is set to begin off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

The salvage, currently scheduled for Monday, is the largest-ever attempted for a passenger ship.

Tanks attached to the ship's sides will be used to float the ship to the port of Genoa, where it will be dismantled.

With a report from CTV’s Ben O’Hara-Byrne