Concordia captain to return to wreck

By Phil Davies 

Concordia captain to return to wreckThe captain of the doomed Costa Concordia is due to return to the wreck today (Thursday).

Judges in the city of Grosseto agreed to a request by lawyers for Francesco Schettino, who demanded that he takes part in a survey of the ship.

The request came as a team of lawyers and experts were due to inspect an emergency power unit on the 11th deck of the Concordia, which allegedly did not work on the night of the shipwreck in January 2012.

It will be his first time back on the ship since it hit rocks off the island of Giglio in January 2012 and capsized, killing 32 people.

The visit is part of an investigation at Schettino’s trial, where he is accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship. He denies the charges. If found guilty he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Schettino is due to board along with inspectors, but will not be allowed to interfere with their investigation. He would be allowed onto the ship “as a defendant, not a consultant”, said Judge Giovanni Puliatti.

The captain has been accused of leaving the vessel before all 4,229 people on board had been evacuated. But he denies abandoning the ship after it hit a reef near the island.

He maintains he managed to steer the stricken vessel closer to shore so it did not sink in deep water where hundreds might have drowned.

An Italian court convicted five others of manslaughter last July.

They had all successfully entered plea bargains, while Schettino’s request for a plea bargain was denied by the prosecution.

Concordia was set upright in an unprecedented salvage operation known as parbuckling in September.

Diver working on Costa Concordia dies in accident

Diver working on Costa Concordia dies in accident

A diver is reported to have died while working on the shipwrecked Costa Concordia after apparently gashing his leg on an underwater metal sheet.

Italy’s civil protection agency, which is leading the removal of the Concordia from the Tuscan coast, said the diver was Spanish.

Tuscany’s La Nazione newspaper said the diver had been working on preparations to attach huge tanks on to sides of the Concordia, to float the ship off its false seabed and tow it to a port for eventual dismantling.

The newspaper reported he gashed his leg on an underwater metal sheet and was then unable to get free.

It said he bled heavily before a diver colleague was able to bring him to the surface. He was reportedly conscious upon surfacing but later died, according to Sky News.

He is the first diver to die in the line of work on salvaging the Concordia ever since it hit a reef off the island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 passengers and crew.

The Concordia was righted in preparation for removal during a 19-hour engineering feat last autumn, in which a system of pulleys wrenched 115,000-ton cruise ship from its side to vertical.

Semi-submersible vessel to give Concordia a lift

By Tom Stieghorst

*InsightOne of the more amazing sights when the space shuttle program was in its prime was the 83-ton shuttle atop a Boeing 747 being ferried from its landing field at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The shuttle needed an assist because, other than its launch and return from earth orbit, it could not fly on its own.

Something similar may be in store for the partly raised Costa Concordia cruise ship. The salvage team for the Concordia has secured an option to use the Dockwise Vanguard to transport Concordia, which would be a first for the world’s largest semi-submersible vessel.

Dockwise is a Dutch firm that specializes in semi-submersibles. The vessels fill their ballast tanks to sink below a cargo, and then expel water to float them on large, flat cargo decks.*TomStieghorst

The Dockwise approach offers time and energy savings over towing large loads. Yacht captains have been using the Dockwise for years to transport their boats on long-distance journeys, saving wear, tear and crew costs.

But Dockwise Vanguard was not built for small payloads like mega-yachts. It was built to transport marine oil- and gas-drilling rigs, such as the Chevron Corp.’s 53,000-ton Jack/St. Malo oil platform, which it ferried from South Korea to the Gulf of Mexico last year.

The Concordia would be a bigger bite. According to the salvage team, Concordia will weigh about 75,000 tons, or about 1.5 million pounds, once it is refloated this June.

Dockwise Vanguard can handle it. The 900-foot-long ship, which was delivered last year, has a rated capacity of 110,000 tons. Of course, such a unique vessel doesn’t come cheap. The salvage team has paid $30 million just to secure an option to use the Vanguard for the job.

Without it, the Concordia would be towed in the conventional manner to port. But the seaworthiness of a ship that has been lying on its side in the ocean for two years is an open question.

What would it look like? You can see an online animation by Boskalis, the Dutch parent company of Dockwise, which shows how the Concordia would be loaded on Vanguard.

For the cruise industry, it can’t happen too soon.