Raising Shipwreck: Costa Concordia Recovery Nears Success

Image: Raising Shipwreck: Costa Concordia Recovery Nears Success

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 10:54 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Crews are in the final phases of raising the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship from the rocks surrounding the Italian island of Giglio Tuesday morning. 

A skilled crew is almost finished recovering the 950-foot, 114,000-ton vessel, and if it is successful, it "will be the greatest success in the history of maritime salvage," the Scientific American reported. The massive salvage process involves several large pulleys, cables and a steel tank.

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Though the ships fuel was already siphoned from the Concordia's tanks, the ship's massive engines still contain large amounts of oily lubricants and diesel fuel, which would likely be dispersed into the surrounding waters if the salvage effort failed and the ship collapsed to the bottom.

The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, the largest park of its kind in Europe that is off Giglio island, has been at risk throughout the process. Countless marine life, including dolphins, porpoises, and whale calves reside in the sanctuary.

There are five main stages that must be carried out before the vessel can be docked elsewhere. The name of the project is called the Parbuckling Project.

First, the ship was stabilized by an anchoring system that prevented it from slipping down the steep, jagged seabed below.

Second, the salvage crew created a false bottom beneath the vessel so that while it was rotated outward it had support to prevent it from capsizing.

The third stage, which the crews are currently working on, calls for the Costa Concordia to be rotated upright, a process that is expected to take several days. The crews are using cables attached to the boat's starboard turrets to provide balance during the delicate procedure.

The fourth stage is installing refloating sponsons, 395-ton compartments that will ease the refloating of the vessel's wreck.

And the fifth and final step of the ship's recovery effort will be the actual removal phase, in which the massive ship will be refloated away from the island of Giglio and taken to a port where police will further investigate the remains.

An international team of 500 engineers and mechanics has been working for months to save the ship. The maritime salvage company Titan Salvage is handling the project, as well as the Italian firm Micoperi.

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The Costa Concordia slammed into a reef and capsized after the ship’s captain steered it too close to the island of Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012.

Thirty-two people died and two remain missing as a result of the crash.

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