Work starts to refloat Costa Concordia

Work starts to refloat Costa ConcordiaSalvage workers today started attempting to refloat the Costa Concordia more than two years after it sank off the Italian island of Giglio.

Divers and engineers will oversee the operation to raise the 114,500-tonne ship, which may still contain the body of one of the 32 people who died in the disaster.

The ship’s owner, Costa, hopes to finally raise the rusting vessel from the sea-bed in a week-long operation before towing it away to be scrapped in Genoa.

Engineers plan to raise the vessel from the artificial platform where it has rested since it was righted in another large-scale operation last September, the Times reported.

Nick Sloane, the South African salvage master in charge of the operation, was reported as saying this morning: “The risks are that the ship could bend as it is raised, or the chains underneath it could snap.

“There will be 42 people on board during the first manoeuvre. If disaster strikes we will evacuate through emergency escapes on the bow and stern.”

Once the ship is successfully raised off the platform, air will slowly be pumped into 30 tanks or “sponsons” attached to both sides of the 290-metre Concordia to expel the water inside and raise the ship.

The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning the vessel before all passengers had evacuated.

Russel Rebello, an Indian waiter, is still missing and the refloating will include a new search of the ship as it is raised that may finally recover his body.

Costa Concordia refloating scheduled to happen in June

By Tom Stieghorst

Concordia wreckItalian authorities and Costa Cruises executives held a briefing in Italy updating the progress on refloating the Costa Concordia.

The update comes a few days before the second anniversary of the partial sinking of the Costa ship.

Engineers pulled the Concordia upright last fall and are preparing to refloat the ship before towing it to port to be scrapped.

Project managers are targeting June to move the wreck from Giglio Island to an as-yet-unknown destination. Prior to that, they will attach another 19 sponsons to the hull.

The plan calls for sponsons to be fastened to the ship in April. Then water will be pumped out of the tank-like sponsons, providing buoyancy to raise the ship off its fabricated platform about 30 meters below the surface to a depth of about 18.5 meters.

A total of 2042.5 cubic meters of fuel and 240 cubic meters of sewage were removed from the ship last March, along with 240 tons of material from the seabed, according to the project briefing materials.

Authorities initially contacted 30 salvage companies and are in the process of picking one. The field has been winnowed to companies from Italy, France, Norway, the U.K. and Turkey, with final selection expected in early March.

The project has a $30 million option to retain the Dockwise Vanguard, the world’s largest semi-submersible vessel, as an alternative for transporting Concordia.

About 60% of the direct spending on the recovery (about 261 million euros) has benefited Italy, with another 21% of the benefits flowing to the U.S., 12% to the U.K., 3.8% to the Netherlands and 2.6% to Germany, the project said.

It estimated the overall impact on Italy’s GDP at 540 million euros.