Costa Concordia salvaged: Ship pulled upright as damage from tragic capsize emerges

A 19-hour salvage operation pulls wrecked liner upright using pulleys, cables and giant water-filled tanks

Engineers in Italy have successfully pulled the Costa Concordia cruise liner completely upright during a complicated, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany, an unprecedented feat that sets the stage for it to be towed away next year.


The submerged side of the Concordia suffered significant damage after 20 months bearing the weight of the ship and the operation to right it, officials said.

The Costa Concordia capsized in January 2012, killing 32 people.

That damage must be repaired to stabilize the ship so it can be towed and turned into scrap.

Shortly after 4am local time, a foghorn wailed off Giglio Island and the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it — known in nautical terms as parbuckling—was complete.

"We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen," said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia's owner, Costa Crociere SpA.

He added that no environmental spill had been detected so far.

An hour later Nick Sloane, the South African chief salvage master, received a hero's welcome as he came ashore from the barge that had served as the floating command control room for the operation.

"It was a struggle, a bit of a roller coaster. But for the whole team it was fantastic," Mr Sloane said.

The Concordia slammed into a reef off Giglio Island on 13 January 2012, after the captain brought it too close to shore. The cruise ship drifted, listed and capsized just off the island's port. Two of the 32 bodies were never recovered.

The operation to right it had been expected to take no more than 12 hours, but dragged on after some initial delays and maintenance on the vast system of steel cables, pulleys and counterweights that were used to roll the 115,000-ton, half-submerged carcass of steel upright.

More than 50 large chains and winches were used to break the ship - twice as heavy as the Titanic - away from the reef.

The rotation's final phase went remarkably fast as gravity began to kick in and pull the ship toward its normal vertical position.

Parbuckling is a standard operation to right capsized ships. But never before had it been used on such a huge cruise liner.

The Concordia is expected to be floated away from Giglio in the spring and turned into scrap metal. The aim was to right it intact, to prevent the leakage of potentially toxic waste into the pristine waters around Giglio, which is located in a marine sanctuary.

The damaged side of Costa Concordia cruise ship has emerged from the sea off the Italian island of Giglio The damaged side of Costa Concordia cruise ship has emerged from the sea off the Italian island of Giglio  

An initial inspection of the starboard side, covered in brown slime from its 20 months underwater, perched on a jagged reef, indicated serious damage that must be fixed in the coming weeks and months, according to Mr Sloane.

The damage was caused by the capsizing, bearing the ship's weight and the operation to rotate the ship, he added.

The starboard side of the ship, which was raised 65 degrees in the operation, must be stabilised to enable crews to attach empty tanks on the side that will later be used to help float the vessel away. Such tanks were affixed to the exposed, port side of the ship and were filled with water in the later phases of the rotation to help pull the port side down.

The wreck of the Costa Concordia liner is up-righted near Giglio, with the line on the top deck showing progress since this morning The wreck of the Costa Concordia liner is up-righted near Giglio, with the line on the top deck showing progress since this morning

The ship must be made strong enough to withstand the winter storm season, when high seas and strong winds are likely buffet the 300-metre (1,000ft) long liner.

"I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved," Mr Sloane said as he was mobbed by well-wishers and television crews, still wearing an orange life vest around his neck and carrying a South African flag in his hand, given to him by his wife.

Helping the Concordia to weather the winter and stabilize it is an artificial platform on the seabed that was constructed to support the ship's flat keel.

"The ship is resting on its platform," Mr Gabrielli said.

About an hour before the rotation was complete, observers said the ship seemed to suddenly settle down upon its new perch, with a clear brown-green line of algae drawn across its front delineating the half of the liner that had been underwater and the half that was exposed.

Members of the US salvage company Titan and Italian firm Micoperi work at the wreck of the Costa Concordia near Giglio's harbour as the so-called 'parbuckling' operation begins to raise the liner Members of the US salvage company Titan and Italian firm Micoperi work at the wreck of the Costa Concordia near Giglio's harbour as the so-called 'parbuckling' operation begins to raise the liner

Mayor Sergio Ortelli said the island felt a wave of relief as soon as the Concordia was freed from the reef in the initial hours of the operation. But he said there was also the realization that two bodies still have yet to be found, with a fresh search to be launched now that the ship is upright.

"While there is happiness today, there is no triumphalism," he told The Associated Press.

The Concordia's captain is on trial for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship during the chaotic and delayed evacuation. Capt. Francesco Schettino claims the reef wasn't on the nautical charts for the liner's weeklong Mediterranean cruise. Five other Costa employees were convicted of manslaughter in a plea bargain and were sentenced to less than three years apiece.

Costa is a division of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise company.

Additional reporting by AP

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam