15 Sep 2013

Raising the wreck of the Concordia cruise ship

Islanders prepare for the ten hour operation to remove the 114,500 tonne cruise ship that killed 32. The wreck has dominated their skyline for a year and a half.

A year and a half after the captain of the Concordia cruise ship drove it onto a reef off the coast of Tuscany, the wreck of the ship dominates the skyline of the island of Giglio.

On Monday, the Italian government intend to move it.

Italian islanders are looking forward to getting the 114,500 tonnes of rusting metal – the largest capzied passenger ship ever – out of their harbour.

But the ten hour operation starting at 06.00 – known as parbuckling – will have to right the ship before it can be removed.

By sliding the 300m long ship down a ledge onto a platform erected below the ship, American firm Titan Salvage hope to set it upright, before attaching flotation aides to the side that will allow it to be lifted to the surface and floated out of the harbour.

Braces will hold together the ship’s bow while it is being moved, and fishing nets will catch debris as it rises from beneath the ship.

As a first priority of the salvage operation, the 200,000 tonnes of fuel on the ship was removed, the tank threatened an ecological disaster.

32 passengers died in January 2011 when the captain diverted from the set course and steered the ship onto a reef. Problems including slow chaotic evacuation of the 4000 passengers , and the captain’s failure to alert the harbour for an hour after the impact contributed to the deaths.

Two unaccounted for passengers are still missing, and their bodies will something that divers will look for as they go through the rooms of the ship.

Five people were later convicted of manslaughter. Captain Francesco Schettino remains on trial, accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck by sailing too close to shore and abandoning ship before all his passengers and crew managed to leave.

Evidence also suggest that Mr Schettino also refused orders from the coastguard to get back on the ship to co-ordinate the rescue.

"Parbuckling" is the technical term for the process of rotating a sunken or stricken vessel in order to return it to a vertical position.
In the 19th century a "parbuckle", or sling, was used to raise or lower a barrel by passing a doubled rope around it. - Titan Salvage