Major Step Toward Removal of Costa Concordia
Costa Concordia Trial Adjourned Through September It's Day 2 on the Italian island of Giglio, where at 4 a.m. local time this morning the first phase of the salvage of Costa Concordia was completed.
The ship has been brought upright and is sitting in about 100 feet of water on a specially-constructed platform. We'll continue to report live throughout the day from Giglio as events unfold, updating you on what's happening right here as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.
Looking tired but relieved, the group announced the ship was upright (pictured) and resting on the man-made platform, as planned.
"The operation completely met our expectations and wishes," they said, adding the results were better than even they hoped.
Up next: a thorough inspection of the ship, particularly the starboard side that sat submerged for 20 months. Engineers said that side of the ship "looks pretty bad," which isn't surprising. The inspection will help shape the technical plan for the months ahead, which ultimately will see the ship floated out and scrapped.
While the potential for environmental damage during the operation was high, engineers said there was "no evidence of an ecological bomb."
Another news conference will take in Giglio at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. EDT).
At this point, the sponsons -- large, empty floatation devices attached to the exposed side of the ship -- will be used. They will be slowly filled with water and, with the help of gravity, will counterbalance the ship, ultimately righting it.
Engineers reiterated the project, though slower than expected, is going smoothly. The next media update is scheduled for 4 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EDT).
The intervention, which was planned for, according to Italy's civil protection commissioner Franco Gabrielli, has caused an hour's delay. It has pushed back the predicted time for the ship to reach an upright position to dawn tomorrow -- not midnight as originally hoped.
The harbor is closed to marine traffic while the process continues, and no one is allowed on or off the island until the ship is completely upright.
Costa Concordia is approaching a 13-degree angle and continues to be gradually winched up, exposing more of the rusty hull.
No bodies have been recovered and there has been no spillage from the ship, according to the Parbuckling Team.
The rust on the ship's hull -- where it has laid submerged for 18 months -- is clearly visible from the shore as the ship is slowly winched back into an upright position.
The pull on the winches, which was at 6,000 tons in this first phase, has been reduced and will be reduced further until the ship is uprighted by 20 degrees. Once this happens the flotation devices known as sponsons -- as well as gravity -- will gently lower the ship onto its artificial bed.
The weather is expected to worsen at around 10 p.m. local time, but the Parbuckling Team is confident the operation can continue through the night.
At the moment, the water is clear and there are no signs of any kind of spillage. However, experts have emphasized that the danger will remain for spillages -- toxic chemicals, rotting food and other debris -- as the ship is put into an upright position. The danger is made even greater by the amount of damage apparent to the side of Concordia that has been lying on the rocky reef for more than 18 months.
There has been no sign of the two as-yet-unaccounted-for bodies, which experts believe could still be inside the ship.
The ship is being raised incrementally, with 6,000 tons of pressure being applied. Once this pressure starts dropping –- which could be within the next two hours –- then gravity will take over and the ship will be slowly lowered onto the artificial bed which has been built for it. Thus far, the ship has rotated more than three degrees, according to a statement from The Parbuckling Project.
At 9 a.m. CET, the Titan-Micoperi salvage consortium announced that Parbuckling operations had commenced. Captain Nick Sloane, the Senior Salvage Master, gave the order to activate the process allowing commands to be sent from the control room of the barge “Polluce” stationed just offshore of the Italian island of Giglio, near Concordia's bow, to manage the salvage operations.
The floating control room is in position and the person heading up the salvage operation -- Nick Sloane -- has boarded the boat from which he will oversee the process.
At a press conference on the island, organizers emphasized that last night's storms had not damaged any part of the project, but had simply delayed it. If everything goes according to plan, onlookers should be able to see the ship start shifting into an upright position in about two hours (10 a.m. Central European Time; 4 a.m. EDT).
According to a statement from the team, "The storms have in fact prevented the positioning of the barge on which the control room is installed and other operative units."
"The Parbuckling Project," as it is known, will attempt to roll the 114,000-ton vessel off its side to an upright position using a series of steel cables and winches.
A concrete platform has been constructed below the ship to prevent it from damaging the reef it is lying on - and from slipping into the sea.
This is by far the trickiest part of the operation and is likely to take between 10-12 hours to complete.
It's success will largely depend on the state of the side of the ship resting on the reef. If it had deteriorated badly since the ship ran aground on January 13 last year, it may cause undue stress and the superstructure could crumble in on itself.
However experts are confident that the project will be successful -- so much so, that there is no back up plan in place.
If all goes according to plan, the ship will be floated away and eventually scrapped.
Thirty bodies have been recovered from the wreck, and it is expected that the final two will be found if the parbuckling is successful.
We will be posting live from Giglio today on Twitter, our Facebook page and on this Web site.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor Costa Concordia, A Look Back
Major Step Toward Removal of Costa Concordia
Costa Concordia Trial Adjourned Through September