Costa Concordia Salvage Crew: How Will Team Remove Italy Shipwreck? [VIDEO, REPORT]

By Staff Reporter on July 17, 2013 12:01 PM EDT

Costa Concordia Salvage
The capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia lies surrounded by cranes outside Giglio harbour May 14, 2013. Prosecutors rejected a plea bargain offer by the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which capsized off Italy's west coast last year with the loss of 32 lives, lawyers said on Tuesday. Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He has admitted making mistakes but says he should not be the only one blamed for the disaster. (Photo: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

A Costa Concordia salvage crew is racing against time to upright the shipwreck and to remove it from the granite seabed of Isola del Giglio island. A critical operation, there will not be another chance to remove the Costa Concordia ocean liner should the salvage crew fail.

On January 13, 2012, under the command of Captain Francesco Schettino, the Italian cruise ship grounded off the eastern coast of Isola del Giglio. A 50 meter gash on the port side of Costa Concordia caused water to rush in and immediately disable the ship's propulsion and electrical systems. An order to abandon ship was declared an hour after the ship grounded.

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The 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members were on board the Costa Concordia when 30 people were killed after the accidnet; two remain missing, including one passenger and one ship waiter. Captain Francesco Schettino is charged with manslaughter.

The salvage operation led by engineer Nick Sloane of U.S.-based Titan Salvage. The aim is to pull the 54,000 ton ship upright and float it to a shipping facility for demolition.

Unfortunately, the operation is running significantly over budget and behind schedule due to the challenging technical obstacles as well as a two month hiatus caused by harsh sea conditions. The Costa Concordia salvage is expected to commence mid-September.

A race against time, the Costa Concordia is buckling under its own weight, molding itself onto the reef. What's more, the high-risk operation cannot be repeated. If the recovery fails, the Costa Concordia salvage crew will not be able to do it again.

"A ship is not designed to be on its side like that," said Sloane.

"The sheer mass of the weight of the ship has molded her onto the reef and she has actually subsided about three meters around that reef since she first arrived here. So the sooner we get her upright the better. She's got to come up now.

"There is no way to go back. Basically the grout mattresses that we put underneath -- everything will be taking a lot of strain during that operation and you cannot do it again. So it's a one-time, one-chance opportunity. And when we start we have to be a 100 percent ready."

The Costa Concordia savage team will perform parbuckling on the ship. In layman's terms, a dozen cranes that flank the ship will act as pulleys to slowly tilt the vessel upright at a careful rate of 3 meters per hour. Hooks will secure 18 steel chains weighing 17,000 tons to secure the ship to the pulleys.

At the same time, caissons, industrial weights, will aid the pulleys to shift the ship upright.

To learn more about the Costa Concordia savage team parbuckling operation, be sure to watch the video below.

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