Shortly after 6 a.m. this morning, operations to refloat and eventually remove the sunken Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Tuscany began.
The Costa Concordia, which capsized in January 2012 near the island of Giglio killing 32 people, is set to be transferred to Genoa, where it will be dismantled. It is expected to take five days for the ship to reach the Ligurian port, 240 kilometers (150 miles) away, if all goes well with the refloating operation. It is a massive undertaking, “the most daunting salvage ever attempted on a ship of its size,” Costa Crociere CEO Michael Thamm said.
Senior salvage master Nick Sloane, who guided the parbuckling operation last September when the ship was moved into an upright position, will be monitoring the entire operation from on board the vessel with his team of engineers.
For the past 10 months, the team has been working to prepare the ship for the refloating operation. Metal boxes have been attached to both sides of the ship and compressed air will be pumped into them, after the water inside has been drained, which should cause the ship to float.
“Today marks 31 months since the accident and we are finally ready to remove the wreck,” Sloane said yesterday during a press conference. “We look forward to begin.”
The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter. He is accused of taking the ship off route and abandoning it when it began to sink with passengers still on board.