Salvage effort to begin for Costa Concordia

Sept. 14, 2013 at 3:43 PM
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ROME, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The effort to raise the Costa Concordia from the Italian reef where it was wrecked will make maritime history whether it succeeds or fails, experts say.

The operation is scheduled to begin at dawn Monday, The Miami Herald reported. Titan Salvage, a marine contractor based in Pompano Beach, Fla., and an Italian firm, Microperi, are cooperating on the job.

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the island of Giglio on the first night of a Mediterranean cruise on Jan. 13, 2012. The disaster killed 32 of the 4,229 passengers and crew members on board.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, who allegedly deviated from the vessel's course to signal to someone on Giglio, is awaiting trial. Five people have entered guilty pleas.

The contractors hope to bring the vessel up in one piece, using an operation known as "parbuckling" to get the Costa Concordia, now on its side, upright, the newspaper said.

The first step involves moving it away from the reef and then turning it using a complicated system of winches and hoists. If that works, the vessel will be moved to an underwater platform to be prepared for movement to the surface.

Parbuckling has never been tried on a ship this large.

Mark Hoddinott, general manager of the International Salvage Union, said preparations have been meticulous.

"If it doesn't work, then I don't think anybody can say it's because we did this wrong or that wrong," he told the Herald. "They've done everything right. Now they're going into this area where this has never been done with a ship this size before."

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