Costa Concordia wreck arrives at Genoa for scrapping

Operation to remove wreck from reef and tow it for scrapping estimated to cost €1.5bn

Sun, Jul 27, 2014, 12:27

This afternoon, the stricken luxury liner, the Costa Concordia, will conclude her last voyage when she finally docks in the port of Genoa, prior to demolition.

Five days after she was finally moved off the Tuscan island of Giglio, the Concordia arrived this morning outside the port of Genoa on schedule and without incident during her 240km navigation up the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The apparent success of the refloat and removal operation prompted Italian environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, to gently chide his French counterpart, Segoléne Royal, who last week had expressed concerns about the safety of this towing manoeuvre.

In particular, the French Ministry for the Environment had been worried about the risk of pollution as the ship was towed within 20kms of Corsica.

“The French should trust us Italians a bit more. The Concordia operation went very well and we had taken all the necessary precautions...All our samples show that there were no spillages and no pollution”, said Mr Galletti.

As with every aspect of the Concordia salvage operation, this last phase is highly complicated. Given the difficulties of manoeuvering a 114,000 ton weight vessel which, of course, does not have its own engine power, the ship will have to be backed into port.

This in turn means a slow turn-around procedure at the mouth of the port, a process further slowed up this morning by winds of up to 20 knots.

Given its weight, too, a stronger tug, The Mexico, has now taken over the main towage operation, replacing the two tugs which have pulled the wreck out on the open sea.

All in all, at different moments up to eight different tugs will be involved in “parking” the Concordia today, whilst there are no less than four Genoa-based pilots alongside South African salvage master Nick Sloane in his operations room on top of the Concordia.

Mr Sloane was warmly praised this morning by German Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Cruise which runs the Concordia for US giant Carnival Cruise.

After going on board the Concordia early this morning, Mr Thamm said: “I wanted to go on board just to thank Nick Sloane and his men one more time for all their work, in particular on a day like today when the operation is especially complex”.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi was another person keen to underline the success of the operation, saying: “The recovery and removal of the Concordia was not easy but Italy managed to pull it off. When she wants to, Italy is capable of anything, capable of surprising us positively.”

The Costa Concordia ran aground off nature reserve Giglio in January 2012 with the loss of 32 lives. Subsequently, a Spanish salvage diver died during the initial recovery work whilst the body of one of the 32 victims, Indian waiter, Russel Rebello, has yet to be found.

The salvage team believe the body may be found when the ship is dismantled in port. Rebello is believed to have lost his life as he was helping passengers get off the stricken ship.

The shipwreck had been prompted by an ill-advised “sail-by” close to the rocks of the island, a sail-by ordered by Captain Francesco Schettino and a sail-by which came to a disastrous end when the ship hit the rocks, opening up a 70 metre gash below water.

Capt Schettino is currently being tried for multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship. A judgement in his trial is expected sometime next year.