Costa Concordia salvage attempt to go ahead
Complex salvage operation in place to raise vessel which ran aground in January 2012
Anchor-Handling Tug Voe Earl maneuvers next to the wreckage of the Costa Concordia. Photograph: Marco Secchi/Getty Images
The team of experts charged with “righting” the stricken cruise liner, the Costa Concordia, announced today that the complex salvage operation will begin early tomorrow morning.
Concern about poor weather conditions had led to speculation that the salvageoperation would be delayed. However, senior salvage master, Zambian Nick Sloan, said it would require a very serious storm, almost a “hurricane”, to stop the operation.
That will come as good news to the army of daytrippers, curious and news reporters who filled the ferries which travelled out to the Isola del Giglio from Porto Santo Stefano on the Tuscan mainland today.
Captain Sloan said there are “quite a few risks” attached to the righting of the Concordia and said that once the operation has begun, there will be “no turning back”.
The 300 metre long, 114 tonne Concordia currently lies on her side in shallow water in exactly the same position where she ran aground on the evening of January 13th, 2012, with the loss of 32 lives.
The Concordia is lined with huge steel boxes, called “sponsons,” and attached with cables to both the seabed and the nearby Giglio shoreline.
Having completed the initial rescue operation and drained off of the ship’s fuel in order to avoid an environmental disaster, the Concordia operation has concentrated on one objective for much of the last 18 months, namely the Parbuckling Project.
In 19th century parlance, a “parbuckle” was a type of sling or double rope with which sailors would lower and raise barrels.
The Concordia will be parbuckled in an operation due to begin at 6am. It is expected to take 10-12 hours to move the vessel 65 degrees.
The size of the ship and the fact that she lies on two shallow spurs of rock makes this an especially difficult operation.
The salvage team has had to create a false sea bed to stabilise the wreck. A steel platform has been created for the vessel to rest on when righted and an array of computer controlled hydraulic mechanisms have been positioned to operate the cables that will right the wreck.
The sponsons will help to prevent the wreck from breaking up and will then fill with water when they hit the sea, adding ballast and righting the vessel.
It has been calculated that four times more steel has been used preparing these sponsons, three of them as big as a football pitch, than was used to build the Tour Eiffel in Paris.
Once righted, a final effort will be made to find the bodies of two victims, believed to have been trapped inside the wreck. After that the ship will be repaired and towed o the nearby port of Piombino to be broken up for scrap metal.