GIGLIO ISLAND, ITALY (CBSMiami) – A South Florida salvage company, along with its Italian counterpart, has completed raising the wreck of the Costa Concordia in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a 19-hour-long operation off the Italian island of Giglio where the huge cruise liner capsized in January of 2012.
Crews from Titan Salvage Company, based in Pompano Beach and Italy’s Micoperi, used a complex system of pulleys and counterweights to life the crippled ship.
Shortly after 4 a.m., a foghorn wailed on 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.
“A perfect operation, I must say” with no environmental spill detected so far, he said.
It’s the first step of an unprecedented effort to salvage the ill-fated ship.
Click below to watch the amazing time lapse video of the entire operation from beginning to end.
Parbuckling is a standard operation to right capsized ships. But never before had it been used on such a huge cruise liner.
Once righted, the Concordia sported a sharp, slashing line separating the white paint of the exposed hull from the brownish muck that had collected on its submerged starboard side.
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 of the 42-hundred people on board.
The remains of two victims, Russel Rebello of India and Maria Grazia Trecarichi of Sicily, never have been recovered.
The ship is expected to be floated away from Giglio in the spring and turned into scrap.
Porcellacchia said an initial inspection of the starboard side, covered in brown slime from its 20 months underwater while the ship was stuck on a rocky seabed perch, “looks pretty bad.”
That is the side of the hull that was raised 65 degrees in the operation. Crews might have to do extensive work on that side to ready it for the attachment of empty tanks that will later be used to help float the vessel away. It must also be made strong enough to survive a second winter storm season, when high seas and gusts will likely buffet the 115,000-ton, 1,000-foot long liner.
Helping the Concordia to weather the winter is an artificial platform on the seabed that was constructed to support the ship’s flat keel.
“The ship is resting on its platform,” Gabrielli said.
About an hour before the rotation was complete, observers said the boat seemed to suddenly settle down upon its new perch.
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.
Costa is a division of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company.