It’s been called “the largest and most complex recovery ever attempted.” In January, the 290-metre cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a reef, tearing a 70-metre gash in her port side. She sank and capsized in shallow water off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, claiming 32 lives. In May, the US$300-million contract to remove her was awarded to Florida-based salvage and wreck-removal specialist Titan Salvage and Italian marine construction contractor Micoperi. Normally, it would be simplest to cut the wreck into sections in situ and cart them off , but that approach would create large quantities of debris. The Concordia rests in a protected marine area, so Italian authorities insisted it be removed in one piece. That’s been done before—but never with such a large vessel. Originally scheduled for January, the refloat has already been pushed back until spring, and the coming winter storm season threatens further delays. Here’s how the refloat is supposed to work.
(Illustrations by Chris Philpot)