2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)

By on
  • 2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)
    The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen outside Giglio harbour in this February 26, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
  • 2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)
    An aerial view shows the Costa Concordia as it lies on its side next to Giglio Island taken from an Italian navy helicopter in this August 26, 2013 file photo. The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner is set to be refloated within 10 days, to be towed away from the Italian island where it ran aground and capsized two and a half years ago, the group organising the removal said on July 3, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER MARITIME TRANSPORT) REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Fil
  • 2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)
    Tourists take a pictures from a ferry boat of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia as they arrive outside Giglio harbour July 13, 2014. The refloat operation for Costa Concordia is expected to begin on July 14 and be completed on July 21. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRAVEL TRANSPORT) REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
  • 2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)
    The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at Giglio harbour at Giglio Island July 13, 2014. Italian authorities gave the green light to refloating the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship on Saturday, setting the stage for the next step in the largest maritime salvage in history to begin on Monday morning. The defunct luxury liner is due to depart Giglio on July 21, two and a half years after it struck a reef while performing a display manoeuvre to move close to shore and "salute" the port. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT MARITIME) REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
  • 2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)
    A damaged part of the cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at Giglio harbour, Giglio Island July 13, 2014. Italian authorities gave the green light to refloating the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship on Saturday, setting the stage for the next step in the largest maritime salvage in history to begin on Monday morning. The defunct luxury liner is due to depart Giglio on July 21, two and a half years after it struck a reef while performing a display manoeuvre to move close to shore and "salute" the port. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT MARITIME) REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
  • 2½ Years After It Sank, Italy Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Refloat to Start (PHOTOS)
    People dive in front of the cruise liner Costa Concordia at Giglio harbour, Giglio Island July 13, 2014. Italian authorities gave the green light to refloating the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship on Saturday, setting the stage for the next step in the largest maritime salvage in history to begin on Monday morning. The defunct luxury liner is due to depart Giglio on July 21, two and a half years after it struck a reef while performing a display manoeuvre to move close to shore and "salute" the port. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT MARITIME TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
1 of 6

The final phase of an operation to salvage Italy's ill-fated cruise ship Costa Concordia has began on Monday, two and a half years after it sank off the island of Giglio, claiming 32 lives in the process.

The plan is to raise, tow away the 114,500-tonne vessel to the port of Genoa and then broken up for scrap.

"The most critical phase will be the first day, raising the wreck for the first time. Refloating a passenger ship this large has never been attempted before," South African Nick Sloane, in charge of the salvage operations, told AFP.

Costa Concordia, before it can be towed away for scrapping, has to be first to be refloated by 12 metres. Authorities have filled up some 30 giant hallowed steel tanks or "sponsons" with water and then fitted on the two sides of the ship.

"It is a complex operation never attempted before, but we know we can count on the best technicians in the world," Costa Crociere CEO Michael Thamm said in a statement. "I wish them all the best for the success of this great challenge."

Sloane said the 290-metre cruise ship bore too many cracks. "We know that some of them will get worse when we refloat her. We hope the cracks will stop when we think they will."

Environmentalists are concerned the hull of Costa Concordia could break apart during the salvage operation, and then spill its rotting innards into one of Europe's largest marine sanctuaries.

"Once the ship is removed from our island, no one will be celebrating because even after two years the tragedy of what we witnessed remains. We want this final phase to be over as soon as possible," the Telegraph quoted Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of Giglio.

Rotated upright in September, the ship is now sitting on an underwater platform.

Four decks of the ship are expected to emerge from beneath the waters for the first time since it ran aground in Jan 2012 off the picturesque holiday island of Giglio.

Join the Discussion