22 May 2012

Gallery: How Consta Concordia will be refloated for scrap in biggest-ever operation:

The “unprecedented” operation to refloat and remove the sunken Costa Concordia cruise ship will be the most ambitious effort of its kind ever attempted and will cost at least $300-million, it was disclosed Friday.

See a gallery of images detailing the operation to refloat the Costa Concordia
The operation is due to start in the next few days and is expected to take a year, with the ship to be towed to an Italian port and then dismantled for scrap.

“This is the largest ship removal by weight in history,” said Richard Habib, president of Titan Salvage, the American company that will raise the 1,000ft-long, 114,500-ton cruise liner.

“The magnitude of the job is unprecedented. But we feel confident that we can do it and do it safely, with the least disturbance to the environment and the economy of Giglio.”

The Concordia has been wedged on rocks and semi-submerged a few yards off the coast of Giglio, an island off Tuscany, ever since it ran aground on January 13. During the panic-stricken evacuation of its 4,200 passengers and crew, 32 people lost their lives.

Thirty bodies have been recovered but the remains of two people - an Indian and an Italian - are still missing and may be inside the wreck.

Its captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest and has been accused of sailing the ship too close to Giglio, smashing it into a rocky reef and tearing a huge gash in its hull. He faces charges of manslaughter and of deserting the ship well before the evacuation had been completed. The next court hearing in the case is set for July.

The scale of the ship’s removal is “gigantic”, said Silvio Bartolotti, the manager of Micoperi, an Italian marine contractor that will collaborate with Titan.

The plan for removing the wreck involves extracting the huge chunk of rock embedded in its side and patching up the torn hull. Engineers and divers will then construct a platform beneath the ship and fix steel compartments or “caissons” to the side of the liner that is out of the water.

Two cranes will pull the ship upright so that it rests on the submerged platform. The caissons will be filled with water to help the cranes lift the massive weight.

Once the vessel is upright, more chambers will be attached to the other side of the hull. All the caissons will then be filled with air, which will stabilise the ship in preparation for it being towed to a nearby port for demolition.

Captain Habib conceded that the operation entailed significant risks and said if it went wrong there was no “plan B”.

“There are two critical stages - to roll the vessel on to the platform and then to safely refloat it. We think our plan is going to work and that we will be successful,” he said.

Costa Cruises, the Italian owners of the cruise liner, said the operation, “the likes of which have never been attempted,” would cost at least $300? million.

Source: The Telegraph. By Nick Squires. 18 May 2012

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