Photo: The Parbuckling Project
It’s been more than a year since the cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a reef off the shore of Isola del Giglio, in the Mediterranean, leading to a wreck that cost 30 passengers their lives.Yet the enormous ship is still sitting off the Italian coast, mostly submerged, in the middle of a nationally protected marine park and coral reef.
The ingenious salvage operation —called the “Parbuckling Project” — involves building a series of underwater platforms onto which the Costa Concordia will be lifted upright (parbuckled), then floated up and towed away.
It is now fully underway: The underwater platform has been partly installed, and more than a third of the flotation devices that will hopefully lift the ship out of the sea have been filled and put in position.
These photos reveal how the salvage operation — the riskiest, most complicated, and most expensive ever undertaken — is going so far.
The salvage operation is expected to cost $400 million (insurance companies are footing the bill). The ship should be floated upright next summer.
It's a race against the clock: The ship is currently held in place by steel cables, but it could be dislodged by a strong storm. If it sinks, salvaging it would be nearly impossible.
All of the steel used in the platforms will weigh 3 times as much as the Eiffel Tower. Platform number 4 will be installed in early March.
Fortunately, tests have shown no alterations of the water around the site, which remains as clean as it was before the wreck.
As of December, 30 per cent of the grout bags, which will be placed under the hull to provide extra support, had been filled with sand and cement. More than 200 are already in place.
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