Ship wrested off reef
GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy—Engineers today succeeded in wresting the hull of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia from the Italian reef where it has been stuck since it capsized in January, 2012, leaving them cautiously optimistic they can rotate the luxury liner upright and eventually tow it away.
Never before has such an enormous cruise ship been righted and the crippled Concordia didn’t budge for the first three hours after the operation began, engineer Sergio Girotto told reporters.
Girotto said the cameras did not immediately reveal any sign of the two bodies that were never recovered from among the 32 who died Jan. 13, 2012 when the Concordia slammed into a reef and capsized after the ship’s captain steered the luxury liner too close to Giglio Island.
Images transmitted by robotic diving vehicles indicated the submerged side of the hull had suffered “great deformation” from all its time on the granite seabed, battered by waves and compressed under the weight of the ship’s 115,000 tons, Girotto noted.
The initial operation to lift the Concordia from the reef moved the ship just three degrees toward vertical, leaving the vessel some 62 degrees shy of being pulled upright.
While a seemingly small shift, the movement was significant enough to be visible: a few feet of slime-covered hull that had been underwater became visible above the waterline.
Engineers were waiting for the operation’s completion before declaring success.
The entire rotation was expected to last as long as 12 hours, with crews prepared to work into the night if need be.
So far, “rotation has gone according to predictions” and no appreciable pollution from inside the ship has spewed out, said Franco Gabrielli, chief of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, which is overseeing the operation.
Giglio is part of a Tuscan archipelago in a marine sanctuary where dolphins romp and fish are plentiful.