The liner Costa Concordia, which was wrecked in 2012, as a result of an unprecedented operation two and a half years later, regained its buoyancy. The towing of the vessel is scheduled for Wednesday. Disposal of a liner can take more than two years.
On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia liner, 2.5 times larger than the legendary Titanic, became the world's largest passenger ship wrecked.
During the disaster, 32 people died, more than 4,000 passengers and crew members were evacuated. The damage to the owners of the ill-fated liner amounted to more than 1.5 billion euros.
A kind of record was also set when lifting and towing the Costa Concordia. This is, in fact, the largest operation to recover a sunken ship. If all goes according to plan, in a couple of weeks the rusted hulk with a deadweight of 11,800 tons will finally be towed from the Italian island of Giglio to the port of Genoa, where its disposal will begin.
But before proceeding with the towing, the liner had to first be lifted from the underwater platforms on which it was installed in September last year. This process began on Monday 14 July.
On the sides of the vessel, 30 huge steel containers were installed, into which compressed air was gradually pumped until the remains of the vessel became buoyant again, so that the underwater platforms could be removed. The buoyancy operation took five days.
The stages of the rise of Costa Concordia:
Underwater platforms have been built at a depth of 30 meters to support the vessel. Metal containers (caissons) are attached to the side of the Costa Concordia, which are then filled with water.
With the help of special cables attached to the platforms, as well as side counterbalance containers, the sea giant is placed on the keel for 20 hours.
September 2013 - July 2014
Additional caissons are attached to the other side of the vessel standing vertically on the platforms. Then the water is pumped out of the containers.
The compressed air pumped into the caissons restores the ship's buoyancy, preparing it for towing.
The Costa Concordia is currently afloat again and fully ready for towing, which was scheduled for Monday 21 July but was postponed again until Wednesday due to unfavorable weather conditions.
The gross tonnage of the 300-meter vessel is more than 114,000 tons, in addition, metal containers and equipment weighing 60,000 tons are fixed on it. Therefore, the process of towing a giant colossus at a maximum speed of two sea nodes will take more than five days until the liner reaches its destination - the Genoese port, having covered a distance of about 300 km.
Ideal weather conditions are required for towing, as choppy waters can easily destroy the remains of an unlucky vessel. It is because of this that the transportation of the Costa Concordia, standing on the keel, has been postponed for ten months since September 2013.
The best weather conditions in the Mediterranean Sea usually reign from mid-July to early August. Experts have been preparing for this temporary window since last September, preparing the liner for towing.
Greenpeace activists expressed concern that fuel remaining in the vessel could leak out during the five-day voyage, contaminating the Mediterranean Sea. In their opinion, the Costa Concordia should have been towed to the nearby port of Piombino, which can be reached in just one day.
Although the Piomba port is indeed much closer to the Genoese port, it is not well equipped to receive such a colossus. In addition, Costa Concordia's copyright holder, Costa Crociere, also owns a number of shipyards in Genoa.
When disposing of the sunken giant, Costa Crociere intends to use those parts of it that were not damaged after two years in sea water in the construction of other cruise ships.
The disposal of the remains of Costa Concordia will take from one and a half to two and a half years. 125 people will be involved in this work. When the ship finally reaches Genoa, a giant awning will be erected over it, which will forever hide the sea giant from the curious.
The owners of the liner are going to return to the injured passengers all their personal belongings that will be found during the recycling process.
The operation to raise the vessel, according to its owners, has already cost about $ 1 billion, and the final amount should exceed $ 2 billion, which is three times more than the cost of its construction in 2004.
The chances of Casta Concordia to safely reach the Genoese port are estimated by experts at 80%. In a worst-case scenario, the ship could disintegrate while it was buoyant, but nothing happened.
Now the liner is trapped near Corsica by dangerous Mediterranean currents, along which the Costa Concordia must be towed.
When the liner finally leaves Giglio, the Costa Crociere will have to clear the coast for a long time from the debris and dirt accumulated during the lifting operation. Giglio's City Hall is currently debating whether the underwater platforms should be removed or kept as an additional attraction for scuba divers.