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Brava Italia! (and friends) PDF Print E-mail
Sep 18, 2013 at 10:12 AM

ImageAn international group of experts led by an Italian engineering team and Italy's civil protection agency yesterday successfully righted the Costa Concordia giant cruise ship in the first step of a complex project that will lead to its removal from the waters near the Italian island of Giglio, probably early next spring.

Ships' horns sounded and bystanders cheered at 4 a.m after a complicated, and potentially dangerous, 19 hour operation, which had been broadcast live, was happily concluded. The ship, which had been lying on its side on reefs since it sank on January 13, 2012, was rotated and lifted, by the use of inflatable tanks, onto an underwater platform with commands being issued remotely by a control center on shore.

The success of the first and most crucial stage of the Parbuckling Project as the plan devised by US and Italian companies (Titan Salvage is an American-owned specialist marine salvage and wreck removal company, part of the Crowley Group, and is a world leader in its field, Micoperi is a well-known Italian marine contractor with a long history as a specialist in underwater construction and engineering) will allow inspectors to search for the remains of two drowning victims (a total of 32 died) whose bodies were never recovered and, in later stages, to empty the 950 foot long ship, tow it and consign it to salvage.

Civil protection chief Franco Gabrielli said the side of the ship that had been underwater since the shipwreck was heavily damaged but possibly less so than had been thought. And Costa Cruise's project manager, Franco Porcellacchia, said that as far as could be seen, there was no evidence, "so far" of any environmental damage, one of the biggest fears before any action had been taken. Most of the fuel had been drained out of the ship months ago but there was concern that chemicals and other remaining substances could leak into the coastal waters.

The Italians, who handled the engineering parts of the multi-million dollar plan, were understandably proud of yesterday's success since the fatal shipwreck and the despicable behavior of its captain, Francesco Schettino (who goes on trial later this fall on charges of multiple manslaughter) had been considered a major embarrassment.



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