Engineers in Italy have succeeded in setting the cruise ship Costa Concordia upright, 20 months after it ran aground in Tyrrhenian Sea off the island of Giglio.
In the operation that took all of Monday and most of the night, they used cables and metal water tanks to roll the ship onto a platform. The ship was declared completely upright shortly after 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT) on Tuesday, September 17.
- The capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at the end of the “parbuckling” operation outside Giglio harbour
“I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved because a lot of people didn’t think it could be done,” said salvage master Nick Sloane who is treated as a hero now.
A combination photo shows the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia during and at the end of the “parbuckling” operation
The Concordia rammed into a reef of Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012, after the captain brought it too close to shore. It drifted, listed and capsized just off the island’s port, killing 32 people. Two bodies, of a 50-year-old woman and a young waiter, were never recovered. There were hopes that they may be located during the operation, but after the ship was set upright they are still not found. A thorough search will take place after the ship is made safe.
Cruise liner Costa Concordia before the shipwreck
An aerial view shows the Costa Concordia as it lies on its side next to Giglio Island
The operation to right it had been expected to take no more than 12 hours, but dragged on to more than 19 hours after some initial delays with the vast system of steel cables, pulleys and counterweights. The final phase of the rotation went remarkably fast as gravity began to kick in and pull the ship toward its normal position.
The damaged right side of the ship which had been lying under water for 20 months
Parbuckling is a standard operation to right capsized ships. But never before had it been used on such a huge cruise liner. Costa Concordia is 290.20 metres (952 ft 1 in) long, has a beam of 35.50 metres (116 ft 6 in) and weights 114 000 tons.
The vessel is now resting safely on six platforms that have been built 30 metres below sea level. Months of work lie ahead, assessing and repairing damage to the ship, before it can be towed away to be destroyed – probably next spring.
The scheme of parbuckling operation, bbc.co.uk
Salvage crew workers work on a side of the capsized Costa Concordia during the salvation
The ship after 9 hours of parbuckling operation
During the parbackling operation
If things had gone wrong, the ship could have broken apart, causing the toxic contents of the ship to leak. They include thousands of liters of lubricants, paints, insecticides, glue and paint thinners as well as 10 tanks of oxygen and 3,929 liters of carbon dioxide.
Refrigerators filled with milk, cheese, eggs and vegetables have been closed tight since the disaster.
And the freezers that remain intact contain the rotting remnants of what were once 1,268 kilograms of chicken breasts, 8,200 kilograms of beef, 2,460 kilograms of cheese and 6,850 liters of ice cream.
The salvage operators set up two rings of oil booms equipped with sponges and skirts that extend into the water to catch any escaping debris.
People look on at the operation of salvation the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia
Francesco Schettino, the captain who guided the ship off course, faces charges of manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship with passengers still on board. His trial resumes September 23 in Grosseto.
All photos – Reuters
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