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(April 2013 updates) Costa Concordia disaster - what happened, facts, ship salvage plan/operation latest news & updates/removal progress, and the sad story of this "most stupidly unique" and worst cruise ship accident, ever.
Latest Costa Concordia salvage updates show this operation turned out to be the most expensive and the riskiest ever. The wreck of the liner continues to sit off the Tuscany's coast semi-submerged (see below for more salvage info). The Costa cruise ship Costa Concordia sunk on the evening of Friday 13th (this combination again) off the Tuscan West Coast of Italy near the island of Giglio. The Costa Concordia sinking is a tragedy - lost lives, huge financial losses, and also as a major cruise ship safety issue. The Concordia ship general specifications: gross tonnage 114,500 tons, length 952 ft (290 m), max passenger capacity 3,780 guests and 1,100 staff and crew, maiden voyage July 14th 2006. Its owner - the Costa Crociere brand, is a subsidiary of the largest cruise ship company in the world - Carnival Corporation & PLC. The Europe's cheapest cruise travel operator, Costa cruise company operates predominantly in the Mediterranean with a fleet of 15 big ships.
Costa Concordia disaster - what happened
The hour of the Costa Concordia disaster was 22:00 local time (UTC+1), 2 hours after the Mediterranean cruise had begun from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) on a 8-day round-trip itinerary scheduled to visit Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Caligari and Palermo.
The above video is based on historical AIS data by VesselFinder.com (ship tracking website).
As witnesses report "it all started with a loud bang, the huge ship shuddered to a halt, plunged into darkness". This was the beginning of the 2 long hours of panic. It must have been a Titanic-like experience for all the 3206 passengers and 1023 crew members on board the unfortunate ship when she starts to sink. News teams reported many of the passengers jumped overboard and swam to shore as the vessel took on a 20-30 degree list to starboard presenting a real danger of sinking. As to passengers nationality, most of the passengers were Italians (989), 569 Germans, 462 French, Spanish (177), 129 US citizens (a total of 4229 people from 70 countries). Now the ship is capsized, resting against a small breakwater.
Costa Concordia disaster - facts
The Money talks. One of the most expensive cruise ships in the world, the Costa Concordia cost to build is US$570 million (€450 mill), but the sunken Costa liner could become "the biggest insured loss in maritime history". The vessel was insured for US$513 million (€405 mill), the list of insurers includes XL, RSA, Generali, Allianz. Experts expect the insurance loss from the ship to be between $500 million and $1 billion. While these numbers are big enough, they could grow even bigger if over 2,300 tons of fuel on the ship start to leak - in such a case a substantial pollution liability claim would be issued. This possibility was the reason the Carnival Corp shares to plummet by 18% on the London Stock Exchange. Carnival officials said the Costa Concordia sinking will cost the company from US $155 to $175 million (euros 118 to 133 million), including insurance deductibles and loss of use. Because of the Concordia disaster, Carnival considers lowering the cruise prices fleet-wide to keep up bookings, which will lower the company's net revenue for this (2012) fiscal year, and the earnings per share.
Investigation reports show the Concordia's notorious captain Francesco Schettino veered from the approved ship course and approached Giglio to perform a "salute" to a former Costa captain. Mr Schettino turned off the alarm for the computer navigation system and navigated the ship "by sight". He obviously ordered to turn too late, the ship ended up in too shallow water where struck a rock from the Le Scole reef, tearing open an almost 160 ft (50m) gash in the hull. Captain Schettino remains under house arrest.
- Costa Concordia final death toll is 32, 2 are missing (presumed dead), 64 badly injured. The sunken Concordia may have had unregistered passengers on board, as well.
- On January 31 authorities officially ended the search for bodies in the submerged parts of the Concordia wreckage - the deformed hull and bad underwater conditions have been deemed too dangerous for divers. Searching continues in waters up to 7 sq miles around the ship.
- Costa Crociere offers EUR 11,000 (nearly US $15,000) per passenger as compensation for all damages, and will reimburse them the full cruise cost along with all travel expenses and any medical expenses after the accident. And naturally, when an opportunity presents itself - 6 of the passengers have opened several law suites against Carnival and demand compensation totaling US $460 million.
- On 26 January started the fuel-pumping preparations. Workers of the contractor for the fuel-extracting (the Dutch shipwreck salvage firm SMIT International) hitched to the toppled vessel a barge with a crane and other equipment and started underwater inspections for the precise locations of all the 17 fuel-tanks of Concordia, containing nearly 2 million litres of heavy diesel fuel. Experts have identified an initial 6 fuel tanks (containing more than 50% of the ship's fuel) that'll be worked on. The procedure would take 2-4 weeks, and generally consists of drilling into the tanks, attaching valves onto them, then the sludge-like oil must be heated, then hoses will be attached to the valves to vacuum out the oil as seawater is pumped into to displace it.
- The fuel extraction started on February 11. The position of the half-submerged cruise liner offers some relief - it's on the Italian coast side of Giglio, so it's relatively sheltered from getting really heavy seas. After pumping the fuel out, the ship must be uprighted and when afloat to be towed.
- The fuel-pumping job was completed successfully on March 25.
The fate of Costa Concordia - one of the largest cruise ships in the world ever and a really great entertainment ship. On 3 February was decided that the ship will not be cut in pieces, but "will be refloated and removed whole". The words of Costa Crociere CEO mr Fischi on the subject: "We believe that the wreck can no longer be put in use". The Costa Concordia wreck removal will be the largest ever ventured.
Costa Concordia - salvage operation/procedures
The Costa Concordia salvage is expected to take 12 months. Seven of the world's best salvage companies were bidding for the contract - the US based Donjohn Marine, Titan Salvage, Resolve Marine Group and T&T Marine Salvage, Mammoet Salvage (the Netherlands), Svitzer (Denmark) and Tito Neri (Italy). Six working plans were received by the deadline, and by the end of April Titan Salvage won the bid (the company is based in Pompano Beach, FL USA). The Italian "Micoperi" (an engineering firm) is the local Titan's partner.
- Salvage procedures will involve sealing up all the holes in the hull (including the huge gash), all sections of the ship must be sealed off into airtight compartments, air will be pumped into the compartments to give the ship buoyancy, then cranes and huge pontoons will be brought in to straighten it and tow it away to a dock (most likely to Genoa).
- The estimate cost of Costa Concordia salvage operations is expected to be around US$300 mill (€225 million) or about half of the ship's building cost. The insurers then will give the big answer to "scrap or refit" (though the most likely option is the ship to be sold on). Well, according to the latest updates, they will roll the ship in 1 piece onto a subsea platform, raise it and then will float it away. Costa Concordia will be cut up for scrap.
Costa Concordia salvage plan - dynamic, complex, an unique project
- (anchoring & stabilization). 4 submarine anchor blocks will be fixed to the seabed between the wreck's center and the coast. 12 retaining turrets to be installed for use during the uprighting/parbuckling. Strandjacks mounted on the tops of the turrets will be attached to a total of 24 chains (2 per turret) passing under the hull (fixed to the port side) - this is a hold-back system to be used for balancing during the rotation/uprighting.
- (submarine supports & portside caissons, installing a false bottom for the ship to rest after rotation). Grout bags to be positioned & filled with a special eco-friendly cement to fill the empty space between the 2 rocks (the stern area & the hull's bow) fro creating a stable base for the hull. After positioning the bags, a total of 6 platforms (3 huge and 3 smaller ones, on which the wreck will rest) will be fixed into the granite ground by drilling a 2m/6,6ft hole (no waste will be dispersed in the sea). This operation is being performed by the UK's Frugo Seacore (offshore drilling). After the false bottom is done, the Micoperi 30 huge crane will install 15 re-floating sponsons on the ship's left side (welded onto the wreck).
- (parbuckling/rotation/uprighting) it should take about a couple of days, but this wis an extremely delicate procedure. It will be done using strand jacks tightening all cables attached to the platforms and the caissons' tops (they will be pulled seawards), while the starboard turrets cables will be used for balancing. The main goal is to upright the ship without deforming its hull.
- (starboard caissons) 15 more re-floating sponsons to be attached starboard side, caissons to be used during the refloating phase.
- (re-floating) - when the hull's resting on the false bottom (at depth of ~ 100ft/30m), the water from the caissons on both sides will be gradually pumped out, but even on completion a big section of the ship (~ 60ft/18m) will remain submerged. There's no a precise date for the completion of work (possible work suspensions due to bad weather, sea conditions etc), but based on the current progress, the Concordia ship removal will be completed by the end of summer 2013.
- (ecosystem restoration) - the sea bottom to be thoroughly cleaned, marine flora to be replanted, future monitoring of the potential impact of salvage ops on the region).
- (defueling, caretaking) right after the accident, a protection perimeter was established around the vessel using booms. On January 14, 2012, Costa engaged the Smit Salvage BV together with the Italian Tito Neri srl to remove the oil from the ship as quickly and cleanly as possible. this was done by a team of ~100 experts (international) and a total of 20 vessels (like transport ships, tug boats, crane barges, tankers, etc). Defueling was completed March 24, 2012. Followed a process of cleaning significant quantities of debris from the seabed and the whole area around the ship. Caretaking ops are still on, performed by Titan and Micoperi personnel.
- jobs and money facts: currently at the Giglio' site: ~400 workers (18 different nationalities), with active engineers & divers 24/7, ~20 diverse marine vessels. There's an increase in investments of ~US$100 mill on the initial cost, with a total estimated budget ~US$400 million.
Costa Concordia salvage operation update 2013 latest news
- (April 5, milestone) the largest of all 5 underwater support platforms was positioned onto the seabed. "Platform No1", as they call it, will provide a secure support when the process of uprighting starts. The weight of the platform is about 1000t (measuring 40x33m (131x108ft), and 22m/72ft tall), it's supported by 5 huge pillars (each 2m/6,5ft in diameter). The enormous structure was lifted from a barge and positioned into place below the sunken ship by the heavy lift marine vessel "Svenja" (owner/operator SAL Heavy Lift).
- (April 10) Costa Crociere has accepted a fine of $1,31 mill (€1 mill, close to the max allowed by law) to settle all "potential criminal charges" concerning the Concordia accident. While it surely means that Costa won't face a criminal trial brought by the state of Italy, it definitely doesn't stop private lawsuits (by passengers/crew) from being filed. While many survivors accepted the line's initial compensation offering of €11,000 (US$14,000 each, plus reimbursement of travel expenses), hundreds of the Concordia passengers have declined and will pursue civil lawsuits against Costa. According to an Italian class action lawyer (representing Italian passengers), the latest negotiations have reached €27,000 pp as a last offer from the company, but he and his clients are aiming much higher - 1 million euros for each passenger (some say greed is the most reliable emotion).
- (April 15) In an Italian court begun hearings to determine whether the Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino and 5 other ship officers will face trial for charges related to the accident. The infamous captain is facing trial for charges of 1) multiple manslaughter, 2) causing a shipwreck by unauthorised and unapproved deviation from the course and 3) abandoning his ship before all passengers and crew were off. Manslaughter indictments were also requested for 4 other crew members, including the ship's helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin (misunderstanding a direct command moments before the crash), and the 6th facing possible indictment (manslaughter & delaying rescue, which is the main cause of loss of so many lives) is the chief of the line's crisis unit Roberto Ferrarini. There are 40 pre-trial hearings scheduled in the town of Grosetto through July (survivors are allowed to attend the hearings).
- (April 17) installed the 1st of the portside sponsons (p10).
The ominous Concordia - facts to fiction. The date was Friday 13th (oh, boy) and the year is 2012 (some noticed that RMS Titanic sank almost exactly 100 years ago - on April 14th 1912). The name is Concordia (some remembered the Concorde aircraft crash on July 25th 2000). And of course, the inauspicious launch- the failure of the ceremonial Champagne bottle to break on the bow of the new ship on September 2nd 2005.
Costa Concordia is a triple disaster - so many lost lives, bad publicity and a wasted bunch of money that could have been spent on a brand new ship! It's the worst cruise ship accident ever indeed - out of stupidity! But what's done is done. We wish happy and safe sailings to all adventurous souls, and we thank again VesselFinder for its unique marine data. You can share our survey via the social buttons below.