Costa Concordia Polski: Statek pasażerski Costa Concordia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Work to salvage Costa Concordia, which stranded off the island of Giglio on the Tuscan coast on Friday the 13th of January, taking with her 32 lives (one in every 132 on board), is set to begin in days, it was announced on Friday. Leading the project will be Titan Salvage of Pompano Beach, Florida, part of the Crowley Group, who along with Italian partner Micoperi, were awarded the contract last month to refloat and remove the crippled 114,147-ton ship. Since its founding in 1980, Titan has performed more than 350 salvage and wreck removal projects.
An evaluation team with representatives from Costa Crociere, Carnival Corporation & plc, London Offshore Consultants and Standard P&I Club, along with classification society RINA and shipbuilders Fincantieri selected the final plan. Key to the winning Titan-Micoperi bid was the proposal to remove the wreck in one piece to minimise environmental damage on Giglio.
The project is expected to take about a year and will be divided into four stages. The fuel has already been removed as part of Costa’s commitment to minimize the environmental impact of the shipwreck.
The process will involve the construction of a platform below sea level and attaching watertight caissons to the ship’s side above water. Two cranes attached to the platform will then pull the ship upright, aided by the water-filled caissons. Once the ship is up on the platform, more caissons will be attached to the other side of the hull. The caissons on both sides of the ship will then be drained and filled with air. Once refloated, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port for processing in accordance with Italian regulations.
Finally, the sea bottom will be cleaned and marine flora replanted after the Concordia is removed. The refloating plan prioritises safety and the protection of Giglio’s economy and tourism industry. As well, salvage workers are not expected to have an adverse impact on the availability of hotel rooms for Giglio’s summer trade as the project’s operating base with be located on the mainland.
Also last week, Francesco Schettino, the captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, was declared unfit for command by Italy’s top appeals court. In a written explanation of its decision to maintain his house arrest order, the Court of Cassation said he had shown “little resilience in performing command functions or in handling responsibility for the safety of persons under his care.”
Investigators accused Schettino of delaying evacuation and losing control of the operation, during which he abandoned ship before all 4,229 passengers and crew had been taken off the vessel. He has been charged with multiple manslaughter, causing the accident and abandoning ship prematurely.
Finally, concurrent with the latest salvage announcement on Friday, the Italian Maritime Investigative Body presented to the International Maritime Organisation in London the initial findings of its investigation into the Costa Concordia grounding and capsizing. The main problem, according to them, was that it took more than an hour after the ship hit the rocks for the emergency signal to be sounded
In the words of the Financial Times, “Elisa Giangrasso, an Italian coastguard officer, described to gasps from the audience how the vessel set a course to pass close to Giglio, strayed half a mile off course and then ran at speed into a shoal of rocks.”
Half a nautical mile is a little over three ship’s lengths, or perhaps a more revealingly, more than twenty-five ship’s breadths off course.
Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. This article appeared in cybercruises.com