The Costa Concordia: Raise It or Raze It?

The Costa Concordia: Raise It or Raze It?

Rome : Italy | Mar 09, 2012 at 7:21 PM PST
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Costa Concordia accident - Captain Arrested - Life boat video Francesco Schettino

More than twice the size of the Titanic, the Costa Concordia had a gross internal tonnage of 112,000 metric tons. The Titanic only grossed out at 46,000 metric tons. Making the Costa Concordia the largest passenger vessel ever to sink when it ran aground then capsized off Italy's northwest coast on January 13. According to Moody's Investors Service, the insurance costs may reach $1 billion dollars.

Dutch salvage firm Smit began pumping fuel out of the wreck on February 12 in an effort to keep it from polluting the water and the beaches. They will have to remove about 2,400 metric tons of bunker oil from 17 separate tanks. Viscosity of the fuel can get thick as the temperature goes down making it hard to pump, so Smit is piping in steam to warm and loosen it and as the fuel is pumped off for salvage it will be replaced with sea water to maintain the ships stability on the reef.

Now the mammoth task of recovering the ship is being explored. Ten companies from around the world are now bidding to do just that and will present their proposals the beginning of March. Mike Lacey, secretary general of the International Salvage Union, said "The wreck's on the edge of deep water, and could drop more than 200 feet [60 meters] deeper." The cleanest and most straightforward solution would be to upright the ship and tow it to a scrap yard, Lacey says. "That way you can get rid of the ship all in one piece," he explains.

Possible methods to move the massive Costa Concordia include multiple cranes, inflatable bags and even buoyant objects like ping-pong balls used by Donald Duck.

Peter Tromp, manager of, Euro Demolition a Dutch salvage company, said it’s most likely, salvagers would depend on cranes. It would not be easy the cranes not only would have to turn the ship upright, but hold it in place to keep it from sliding into deeper waters. The ship is far too massive for a single crane, Lacey observed.

Euro Demolition and T&T Bisso are partnering on a proposal to scrap the ship in place. "We think there's too much weight and too much damage to refloat it," Tromps says. Cranes would be armed with metal shears capable of slicing five-centimeter-thick steel; the ship would be carved into chunks 200 to 300 metric tons in weight then loaded onto salvage barges. As a final step they would use electromagnets 3 meters in diameter to clean the seabed of any debris.

Towing, if it can be done, would take approximately 6 months, if Euro Demolition and T&T Bisso end up doing a chop job on the Costa Concordia, they estimate they can be done in eight to 10 months, Lacey said.

The winning bid is expected to be announced later this month or next.

The Concordia is expected to be a total loss, and officials said Friday that Costa Allegra which was already for sale will not reenter service.

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Costa Concordia
After runnin aground on a reef near the island of Giglio.
Larry-Crehore is based in Longmont, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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