U.K. Editor Adam Coulter is on the tiny Italian island of Giglio, where Costa Concordia sits partially submerged. Today, an operation, called “parbuckling” is underway to right the ship, a major step toward ultimately removing it. Adam is reporting live on the operation.
We only got confirmation that the Parbuckling Project was taking place three days ago — and even then it was weather dependent. A storm raged all last night, but a bright sun rose this morning and the sea is calm now, a few light clouds in the sky and little wind.
The storm caused the operation to start two hours later than scheduled — but that was all; no damage had been done, and as Sergio Girotto, of the Parbuckling Project, said: “Everything is fine, it simply started a bit late.”
This tiny island, which has put up with the vast hulk of this ship blotting its harbor for more than a year-and-a-half, is now thronged with cameramen, journalists and broadcasters along the entire harbor front.
Members of Titan, the salvage crew, sit outside cafes, their work done — for the time being. Police man the streets, allowing only accredited journalists to get past the barriers. Even residents have to wear badges reading: “Residente.”
Our boat left the mainland at 5 a.m. local time, taking an hour to cross and slowing to almost a stop as it cruised past Concordia, bathed in shimmering arc lights, rust clearly showing on the superstructure.
But it was only when the sun began to rise that you can make out how vast and overwhelming the ship is. It’s literally just yards from the shore and dominates the seascape.
I asked a couple of locals if they’d be pleased to see it go. Their response was mixed. Perhaps they’ve got used to it now.
But amid all this, the fact remains the ship is a gravesite. Thirty-two people lost their lives January 13, 2012 and two bodies remain unrecovered. The salvage team are expecting to find them if the project is successful.
A force of 2,000 tons is being used to winch Concordia into an upright position. We can see the ship has moved slightly, and we have no reason to doubt everything is going to plan.
The whole operation should take about 12 hours, which takes us well into darkness. But once this initial part is over, and if the ship keeps its shape, then it will hopefully be a straightforward process. The irony, of course, is that it will remain upright –and even more prominent — until it is floated away for scrap, at a date that has yet to be determined.
A look back at Costa Concordia events.
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