Concordia Cruise Ship Wreck Removal Delayed by 'Technical Problems'

May 15, 2014

(10:00 a.m. EDT) -- A construction accident and delayed approval of project plans have pushed back the deadline for removing the Costa Concordia shipwreck to July 18.

The initial removal date for the wreck had been set for June.

Delays began on May 6 when problems with one of the chains holding an 800-ton sponson -- metal flotation tanks that will refloat Concordia so that it can be towed -- caused the sponson to slip and collide with an adjacent sponson.

According to a statement released by the Concordia Wreck Removal Communications Manager, both sponsons will need to be repaired before the ship can be moved. One of the damaged sponsons has been transported from the Concordia wreck to Genoa on the Italian mainland, where it is undergoing repairs. The other is being repaired on site.

In addition to the 11 sponsons positioned on Concordia's port side prior to the ship's 'parbuckling' in September, when the 114,000-ton vessel was rolled into an upright position and lowered onto an underwater platform, another 19 sponsons are needed to refloat the ship.

Titan Micoperi, the salvage operator performing the Concordia removal, has successfully installed four sponsons and is scheduled to install a fifth today soon, according to Concordia Wreck Removal.

The Monitoring Observatory -- an oversight body made up of several institutions concerned with regulating the project's environmental and safety implications -- initially granted permission for four sponsons to be attached to Concordia's starboard side, but delayed approval for plans to install the remaining 15.

Progress on the planning came to a halt in late April when the Monitoring Observatory requested that Titan Micoperi undertake further risk assessments.

"As of now the objective for refloating completion is July 18th, but sponson installation operations are complex and weather sensitive and for this reason the schedule is updated on a weekly basis," the Concordia Wreck Removal statement said.

The final destination for scrapping Concordia has not been announced yet, though a decision is imminent the crisis management company said. Seatrade Insider has reported the chief of the Monitoring Observatory as saying the wreck will be towed to Italy's mainland.

Costa Concordia foundered off the Italian Island of Giglio on January 13, 2012, claiming the lives of 32 passengers and crew.

--by Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor