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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
News
i100
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015