FEATURES » Costa Concordia salvage operation

Costa Concordia salvage operation

One of the biggest Italian dishonourable events of the last few years, the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia, which caused the death of 32 people, has turned into a success for Italian engineers as far as the operations to upright the ship are concerned. 

Italian engineers managed to lift and turn the ship using a platform and a system of cables. It was the first time that such a huge ship, over 951 feet long (290m) had been lifted. The ship of 114,000 tons was raised from the rocks  and rolled up onto her keel.

Parbuckling, a process used to break the ship away from the reef made use of more than 50 enormous chains and winches. The operation was carried out very slowly to prevent further damage to the hull, which had been partially submerged for months in 15m (50ft) of water and had been fully exposed to the elements.

So far five people have been convicted for manslaughter for the disaster. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial accused of manslaughter and of abandoning the ship.

During the operations the remains of the two missing people have been found.

Before the ship can be towed away to be destroyed the damage has to be assessed and repaired. This operation will take place probably next spring due to the fact that good weather conditions are necessary. 

Up to now the vessel had been resting on a platform built on the sea bed. No environmental spill has been detected so far. One of the main aims is not to cause damage to the marine sanctuary in which the ship capsized.

The salvage project has so far cost more than 600m Euros ($800m; £500m) and is expected to cost much more before the operation is complete. This money has been paid by the insurance companies of Costa Concordia, such as the Standard P&I Club of London.

It is not clear yet where the ship will be taken to be demolished, as none of the Italian harbours can take the ship without expensive adaptation works, but it would be worth the effort  because it will mean occupation and also international visibility.

The president of the Toscana region had suggested Livorno harbour and then for not very clear reasons has proposed Piombino.

Let’s hope that the success of this operation won’t be ruined by quarrels over where the ship should be dismantled.

Giulia Lombardo

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