In a “parbluckling” operation of unprecedented scale, Italian and American engineers have succeeded in bringing the stricken Costa Concordia cruise liner to a fully upright position where it ran aground off the coast of Giglio.
It took US firm Titan Salvage and Italian engineering company Micoperi all of Monday and most of Monday night to bring the ship to “degree zero” using cables and metal flotation tanks, whereupon it rested onto six underwater platforms constructed 30m below sea level.
Both the size of the Concordia and the fact it had come to rest on an underwater precipice made the operation the most difficult of its kind to date.
As the Concordia was rolled in the water the massive damage dealt to its starboard side during the capsizing was laid bear. The parbuckling was declared complete shortly after 02:00 GMT on Tuesday. The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Authority, Franco Gabrielli, announced the Concordia is now sitting on a platform constructed on the sea bed.
Franco Porcellacchia, leader of the Costa Cruise technical team, said it was “a perfect operation, I must say.” There was no detectable pollution from the ship, he added, keeping the operation on course to preserve the beautifully clear waters off the Giglio coast.
With a schedule to refloat and remove the Concordia from Giglio’s waters some time in 2014, Titan Salvage and Micoperi will have to now assess the condition of the side of the ship before deciding how to proceed over the coming months.
The attachment to the hull of several large “sponsons” – steel tanks for the eventual refloating – is testament to the extent of the damage. See some fascinating timelapse footage of the parbuckling below.