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Costa Concordia successfully refloated

"As with anything being done for the first time, there are risks. But we are confident," said lead engineer Franco Porcellacchia.
By Brooks Hays   |   July 14, 2014 at 8:02 AM   |   Comments

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GIGLIO, Italy, July 14 (UPI) -- The Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia is back atop the sea today, as engineers successfully refloated the giant ship. The wrecked ship is currently bobbing only a few feet above an underwater steel platform it had been resting on for the past year.

The refloating project has been a massive underwater effort that will take at least six or seven days. The liner has been helped to the surface by a second skin -- its hull covered on each side with at least 30 pontoons.

Monday morning, off the coast of Italy's Giglio Island -- where the liner first sank in 2012, killing 32 people -- pressurized air was pumped into the pontoons, displacing the water and once again offering the ship buoyancy.

"The boat is now floating with its sponsons attached," Franco Porcellacchia, the engineer in charge of the $1.2 billion operation, told reporters on Monday. "The ship is upright and is not listing either longitudinally or latitudinally."

Once fully floated, the ship will be hauled 191 nautical miles -- through portions of open sea and a marine sanctuary -- to Genoa, where it will be disassembled and scrapped. The ship was lifted and raised onto a steel bed last September.

"As with anything being done for the first time, there are risks. But we are confident," Porcellacchia said.

And though its initial reemergence is an impressive feat for involved engineers, it's still a somber occurrence. Once the ship is moved, the search for the body of Indian waiter Russel Rebello -- the only victim whose remains have not yet been found -- will begin in earnest.

Ship captain Francesco Schettino is currently on trial for manslaughter and dereliction of duty.

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