There are two possibilities for what will now happen to the Costa Concordia.
One is to salvage her, meaning she would be repaired and put back into service.
The second is to break her up in situ, called wreck removal.
Divers will now be inspecting parts of the hull that are underwater to establish the seriousness of the damage and also see if the ship can be made watertight.
It would be possible to patch the visible above-water hole but the real difficulty is on the other side, where the ship is resting on rocks.
There is almost certain to be penetration through the doors and windows, which are not very strong and are not designed for underwater pressure. In the unlikely event things are OK, you could pump her dry and she will come up of her own accord but this would still be difficult.
If it turns out that’s impossible, you have to think about using huge cranes or winches but this has never been done to a ship this size.
Therefore, if the underwater damage is found to be of such a nature that the cost exceeds the ship’s value, there is only option – to chop her up and take her away piece by piece on barges, which I believe will happen.
The ship would be a write-off, known in the maritime world as Constructive Total Loss.
Source: The Mirror. By John Noble of the International Salvage
Union. 19 January 2012