Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018

Concordia cruise ship could be righted in September


(By Christopher Livesay)
Grosseto, June 25 - The half-sunk Costa Concordia
cruise ship that has been stranded off the coast of Tuscany
since striking a rock formation at the start of 2012 could be
righted from its current position this September, Italy's civil
protection agency said Tuesday.
"We will have a clearer idea of the timing after checks on
the submerged section and then know if the boat can leave the
(waters around) the island in November or March," avoiding
winter, Civil Protection Department head Franco Gabrielli said
on a visit to the Island of Giglio.
It was here that the cruise ship hit a rock formation in
January 2012 - forebodingly on Friday the 13th - claiming 32
lives, after an allegedly rash manoeuvre by Captain Francesco
Schettino to "salute" local people.
It has since been semi-submerged on its side, making
salvage operations difficult.
"The ship's removal is a priority. First its removal, then
its destination. My mandate is to remove this ship from Giglio,"
Gabrielli said.
US-based Titan Salvage and the Italian firm Micoperi are
the two firms preparing to remove the 60,000-ton, water-logged
ship, the biggest salvage operation in history, and, at an
estimated cost of 400 million euros, also the most expensive.
The plan is to effectively weld a new ship onto the
Crews must first attach 30 giant steel pontoons to its
sides, two of which are already in place, Titan-Micoperi
announced Tuesday.
Then they will roll the ship in one piece onto a 1,000-ton
underwater platform and float it away to be cut up for scrap at
a dry dock in Sicily, which is expected to take up to two years.
No one is certain the unprecedented plan will work given
the 15-story, 4,000-passenger vessel's massive size - twice that
of the Titanic.
Salvage crews are also in a fight against time as the ship
becomes more and more unstable every day that passes.
They must also be extra careful not to cause added damage
to the environment and the ancient archeological sites beneath
and around the shipwreck.
For a year and a half it has been settled inside a
nationally protected coral reef and marine park, home to 700
animal and botanical species such as exotic fish, dolphins and
huge rare mussels.
The wrecked ship is also resting on top of two ruins from
200 BC, and its impact reportedly already destroyed a third site
that dates back to 600 BC.
Prosecutors are surveying the damage which may be tacked on
to manslaughter and dereliction-of-duty charges already facing
Schettino, whose trial begins July 9.
Prosecutors will reportedly seek a sentence of up to 20
years in prison.
The mayor of Giglio, Sergio Ortelli, said he was happy with
the progress salvage workers were making.
"Every indicator suggests the ship will be removed as soon
as possible," he said.
"This is especially necessary, on the one hand because of
how much tourism has suffered, and on the other because citizens
have the right to have their island back".

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