It really is a tale of ongoing mishap, as stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia – lying part submerged off the coast of tiny Tuscan island Giglio - will spend another winter in the water, because the salvage consortium hired to re-float and remove the 114,500-ton ship have run into trouble. They were forced this month to present to the Osservatorio – entity supervising salvage operations – a new timeline, because even though originally scheduled to completed in January 2013, things have been put off now until next spring, in what is thought to be the largest re-float in history.
Pompano Beach-based Titan Salvage, along with Italian marine firm Micoperi will rely on underwater platforms – on the seaward side of the ship – and caissons ( watertight boxes ) being then fixed to the above-water side of the ship. After that, two platform-fixed cranes will pull the ship upright, aided by the water-filled weight of the caissons, whilst on the other side, cables attached to the land will ensure the ship does not slide off the platform.
Once pulled upright, other caissons will be fixed to the other side of the hull – to stabilize it, after which all caissons will be emptied, once water inside has been purified – in order to protect the marine environment, before being filled with air, supporting the doomed ship as it gets towed to an unnamed Italian port for dismantling.
Having struck a rock on Jan. 13th, Concordia sank onto its side with more than 4,200 people aboard, 32 lives being lost in the process. Since then, the giant ship carcass has been attracting thousands of tourists. The problem is that the gigantic vessel has been suspended precariously the past eight months on two rocks, a structural collapse and plunge into deep waters apparently very likely.
This would be a catastrophic event, because although in excess of 2,200 cubic meters of heavy fuel have been safely pumped out, 243 cubic meters of fuel remains in the most inaccessible tanks, making the entire wreck removal an extremely risky business, in the purest environmental sense, because local marine life could be severely impacted by any oil spillage. Who knows when this disastrous vessel might finally be consigned to history?