07/06/2012 12:30 pm ET

Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia Captain, Credits 'Divine Hand' In Accident

Francesco Schettino, the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia, claims that "a divine hand surely touched my head," sparing further catastrophe when his cruise ship crashed off the coast of Italy, a leaked letter to his attorney says.

"If I had continued on that path the ship's prow would have hit the rock. It would have been carnage," he wrote, according to one translation of the letter.

Schettino's bold claims come to light as he was released from house arrest Thursday -- and the approaching six-month anniversary of the January 13 disaster sparks renewed interest in the case against the embattled captain.

"My instinct, my skills, the ability to know the sea and suddenly change direction," spared further tragedy Schettino writes, adding that he "created the most optimal conditions to save everybody, independently of how events were unfolding."

The shocking assertions were first reported by the Italian TV program "Quinta Collona."

What influence the claims will have on the case against the captain, who stands charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship, remain to be seen. Schettino had previously stated that he tripped into a liferaft, while a Vanity Fair report on the incident placed blame for the disaster squarely on the capitan.

Previously leaked audio from the night of the crash revealed an Italian coast guard officer demanding that Schettino return to his sinking ship to oversee its evacuation.