At a press conference in Rome, the companies said that, after receiving the necessary permits, work would begin to remove the 114,500gt cruise ship in a few days. The operation is likely to cost in excess of $300m.
The project, which Titan and Micoperi executives described as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘highly complex’, is expected to take until February of next year, though they hope to complete it before this time.
They expressed full confidence in their plan of action, which will begin with efforts to secure the ship, currently resting precariously on an underwater slope, and to seal visible holes in the hull.
The first phase of the operation to right the vessel will include the construction of a sub-sea platform followed by the welding to the exposed side of the ship of a number of caissons, to be filled with water. Next, two cranes will be installed on the sub-sea platform to pull the vessel upright.
Some 70 rods fixed to the sea bottom both on the land and the sea side will provide stabilisation over the course of the operation.
In the third stage, additional caissons will be attached to the other side of the hull. Once the water in the original caissons has been treated and purified, then emptied into the sea, the caissons on both sides will be filled with air, providing buoyancy and balance to the upright vessel.
Subsequently, the ship will be towed to an Italian port and disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the Italian authorities. The sea bottom will then be cleaned and marine flora replanted.
Costa and Titan-Micoperi said the removal plan had been chosen by a team comprising representatives of Costa, Carnival Corp. London Offshore Consultants and Standard P&I Club, with Italian classification society Rina and state-owned shipbuilding Fincantieri also contributing.
They added that the principal aim of the operation, to begin a little over four months after the cruise ship capsized with the loss of 32 passengers and crew, was to remove the wreck ‘in one piece’, with ‘minimal risk, minimal environmental impact, protection of Giglio’s economy and tourism industry, and maximum safety of the work.’
The main operations base for the removal project, where equipment will be stored and the 300 personnel based, will be located on the Italian mainland near Piombino so as not to impact on Giglio’s tourism industry.
At the press conference, Enrico Rossi, president of the Tuscany region where Giglio is located, said he hoped the ship would be towed to the Tuscan port of Livorno for dismantling, ‘as compensation for the damage done to this area.’
He also hopes the operation would provide further information on how the disaster happened, adding that ‘it cannot be attributable solely to a single captain.’ Yesterday, Italy’s highest court of appeals ruled that Francesco Schettino, captain of Costa Concordia, was not fit to command a vessel.