Costa Concordia


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Name: Costa Concordia
Owner: Carnival Corporation & plc
Operator: Costa Crocere
Port of registry: Italy
Route: Western Mediterranean
Ordered: 19 January 2004
Builder: Fincantieri Sestri Ponente, Italy
Cost: €450 million (£372 million, US$570 million)
Yard number: 6122
Launched: 2 September 2005
Christened: 7 July 2006
Acquired: 30 June 2006
Maiden voyage: 14 July 2006
In service: July 2006
Out of service: 13 January 2012
Identification: Call sign: IBHD
IMO number: 9320544
MMSI number: 247158500
Status: Capsized off Isola del Giglio, salvage in progress
Class & type: Concordia-class cruise ship
Tonnage: 114,137 GT
Length: 290.20 m (952 ft 1 in) (overall)
247.4 m (811 ft 8 in) (between perpendiculars)
Beam: 35.50 m (116 ft 6 in)
Draught: 8.20 m (26 ft 11 in)
Depth: 14.18 m (46 ft 6 in)
Decks: 13
Installed power: 6 × Wärtsilä 12V46C
75,600 kW (101,380 hp) (combined)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; two shafts
Alstom propulsion motors (2 × 21 MW)
Two fixed pitch propellers
Speed: 19.6 knots (36 km/h; 23 mph) (service)
23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) (maximum)
Capacity: 3,780 passengers
Crew: 1,100

MS Costa Concordia (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkɔsta konˈkɔrdja]) is a Concordia-class cruise ship built in 2004 by the Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente yards in Italy and operated from 2005 until 2012 by Costa Crociere (a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation). On 13 January 2012, she was wrecked off the coast of Isola del Giglio in Italy. She has been declared a total loss and is being salvaged as of 2013, following which she will be scrapped. The name Concordia was intended to express the wish for “continuing harmony, unity, and peace between European nations.”

Costa Concordia was the first of the Concordia-class cruise ships, followed by sister ships Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, and Carnival Splendor built for Carnival Cruise Lines. When the 114,137 GT Costa Concordia and her sisters entered service, they were among the largest ships built in Italy until the construction of the 130,000 GT Dream-class cruise ships.

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On 13 January 2012 at about 9:45 p.m., in calm seas and overcast weather, under command of Captain Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the eastern shore of Isola del Giglio, on the western coast of Italy about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Rome.] This tore a 50 m (160 ft) gash on the port (left) side of her hull, which almost immediately flooded parts of the engine room and caused loss of power to her propulsion and electrical systems. With water flooding in and listing, the ship drifted back to Giglio Island, where she grounded just 500 m (550 yd) north of the village of Giglio Porto, resting on her starboard (right) side in shallow waters with most of her starboard side under water. Despite the gradual sinking of the ship, its complete loss of power, and its proximity to shore in calm seas, an order to abandon ship was not issued until over an hour after the initial impact. Although international maritime law requires all passengers to be evacuated within 30 minutes of an order to abandon ship, the evacuation of Costa Concordia took over six hours and not all passengers were evacuated. Of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew known to have been aboard, 30 people died, and two more passengers are missing and presumed dead. On the 16th September, 2013, Costa Concordia was tipped upright. The next stage is to float the vessel, then take her away to be scrapped.

The largest Italian cruise ship ever conceived, Costa Concordia was ordered on 19 January 2004 by Carnival Corporation in Fincantieri and built in the Sestri Ponente yard in Genoa, as yard number 6122. At the vessel’s launch at Sestri Ponente on 2 September 2005, the champagne bottle, released by model Eva Herzigová, failed to break, an inauspicious omen in maritime superstition. The ship was delivered to Costa on 30 June 2006. She cost €450 million (£372 million, US$570 million) to build.

Costa Concordia is 290.20 metres (952 ft 1 in) long, has a beam of 35.50 metres (116 ft 6 in) and drew 8.20 metres (26 ft 11 in) of water. She has a Diesel-electric power plant consisting of six 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 12V46C four-stroke medium-speed Diesel generating sets with a combined output of 75.6 megawatts (101,400 hp). These main generators provided power for all shipboard consumers from propulsion motors to hotel functions like lighting and air conditioning. The ship was propelled by two 21-megawatt electric motors coupled to fixed-pitch propellers. Her design service speed was 19.6 knots (36 km/h; 23 mph), but during sea trials, she achieved a speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph),

Costa Concordia was outfitted with approximately 1,500 cabins; 505 with private balconies and 55 with direct access to the Samsara Spa and were considered Spa staterooms; 58 suites had private balconies and 12 had direct access to the spa. Costa Concordia had one of the world’s largest exercise facility areas at sea, the Samsara Spa, a two-level, 6,000 m2 (64,600 sq ft) fitness center, with gym, a thalassotherapy pool, sauna, Turkish bath and a solarium. The ship had four swimming pools, two with retractable roofs, five jacuzzis, five spas, and a poolside movie theatre on the main pool deck. There were five on-board restaurants, with Club Concordia and Samsara taking reservations-only dining. There were thirteen bars, including a cigar and cognac bar and a coffee and chocolate bar. Entertainment options included a three-level theatre, casino, a futuristic disco, and a children’s area equipped with video game products. She also had aboard a Grand Prix motor racing simulator and an internet café.

DISASTER 

On 13 January 2012, at 21:45 local time (UTC+1), Costa Concordia hit a rock off Isola del Giglio (42°21′55″N 10°55′17″E). A 53-metre (174 ft) long gash was made in the hull, along 3 compartments of the engine room (deck 0); power to the engines and ship services was cut off. Taking on water, the vessel started to list starboard. Without power, the ship drifted astern but was now listing heavily starboard. The ship, pushed by winds laterally, drifted back and grounded near shore, then partly capsized onto her starboard side, in an unsteady position on a rocky underwater ledge. Almost half of the ship remained above water, but it was in danger of sinking completely into a trough 70 metres (230 ft) deep. She was carrying 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members, all but 32 of whom were rescued; as of 22 March 2012, 30 bodies had been found, with two people known to be missing and presumed dead. There may have been other people not listed on board. The search for bodies was abandoned at the end of January.

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An investigation focused on shortcomings in the procedures followed by the crew and the actions of the captain. About 300 passengers were left on board, most of whom were rescued by helicopter or motorboats in the area. The Costa Concordia disaster was the partial sinking of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia] when it ran aground at Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, on 13 January 2012 with the loss of 32 lives. The ship, carrying 4,252 people from all over the world, was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia in Lazio, when she hit a reef during an unofficial near-shore salute to the local islanders. To perform this manoeuvre, Captain Francesco Schettino had deviated from the ship’s computer-programmed route, claiming that he was familiar with the local seabed. The collision with the reef could be heard onboard and caused a temporary power blackout when water flooded the engine room. The captain, having lost control of the ship, did nothing to contact the nearby harbour for help but tried to resume the original course it was on prior to the U-turn back to Giglio. In the end, he had to order evacuation when the ship grounded after an hour of listing and partly drifting. Meanwhile, the harbour authorities had been alerted by worried passengers, and vessels were sent to the rescue. During a six-hour evacuation, most passengers were brought ashore. The search for missing people continued for several months, with all but two being accounted for.

Costa Concordia, operated by Costa Cruises, is one of the largest ships ever to be abandoned and she dominated international media in the days after the disaster. Schettino was arrested on preliminary charges of manslaughter in connection with causing a shipwreck, failing to assist 300 passengers, and failing to be the last to leave the wreck. He was later charged with failing to describe to maritime authorities the scope of the disaster and with abandoning incapacitated passengers. Costa Cruises offered compensation to passengers (to a limit of €11,000 a person) to pay for all damages including the value of the cruise. One-third of the passengers took this offer. The company also at first offered to pay Captain Schettino’s legal costs but later declined.

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There were immediate fears of an ecological disaster, as the partially submerged wreck was in danger of slipping into much deeper water, with a risk of oil pollution that would have devastated this popular tourist zone. This event was averted, with all the fuel and oil being extracted safely by 24 March 2012. Costa Concordia has been officially declared a “constructive total loss” by the insurance company, with her salvage expected to be the biggest operation of its kind (the ship’s tonnage is 114,137 GT). On 16 September 2013, the parbuckle salvage of the ship began. The operation started late due to bad weather, and the wreck was set upright in the early hours of September 17. The ship is due to be refloated and towed away to be cut up for scrap.

Salvage = $1 billion

All operations planned for the wreck, including defueling, were conducted jointly by Costa Cruises and the Concordia Emergency Commissioner’s Office. On 12 February 2012, after weeks of weather delays, Dutch salvage firm Smit Internationale, acting jointly with Italian company NERI SpA, started removing the vessel’s 2,380 tonnes of heavy fuel oil. The 15 tanks that contained about 84% of the fuel in the vessel were emptied first. As of 20 February 2012, the tanks in the fore of the ship, which had held about two-thirds of the fuel, had been emptied. On 21 February, defueling was suspended because of poor weather conditions.

On 3 March 2012, salvage workers cut a hole in the ship for access to the engine room, the location of the remaining fuel. On the morning of 12 March, defueling operations resumed. The offloading process required fixing valves on the underwater fuel tanks, one on top, one on bottom. Hoses were then attached to the valves and as the oil—which must be warmed to make it less viscous—was sucked out of the upper hose, sea water was pumped in to fill the space through the lower hose. The process used is called “hot-tapping”, “pumping the fuel out into a nearby ship and replacing it with water so as not to affect the ship’s balance”. The first part of the operation to empty the 15 tanks was expected to take about 28 days. The second phase involved the engine room, which had “nearly 350 cubic metres of Diesel, fuel and other lubricants”. The defueling operation was completed on 24 March.

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With defueling complete, removal of the wreck began. On 3 February, Franco Gabrielli, the head of the Civil Protection Authority, told a meeting of residents of Giglio that the ship “will be refloated and removed whole” and not cut up for scrap on site. Costa invited ten firms to bid for the contract to salvage the ship. Proposed removal plans were assessed jointly with the Civil Protection Scientific Committee. Six bids were submitted in early March. As of 12 April 2012, Costa had two consortia in mind: (1) Smit and NERI (2) Titan Salvage and Micoperi. The salvage operation was expected to commence in the middle of May. Earlier, the CEO of Costa had stated that after the breaches in the hull were sealed, the ship could be refloated, with difficulty, by giant inflatable buoys and then tugged away. The recovery is the largest ever ventured. The salvage was predicted to take from seven to ten months, depending on weather and sea conditions. On 23 February 2012, the Environment Ministry announced it would be “taking legal action” against Costa Cruises regarding a “possible” claim for “possible environmental damage” and the cost of salvage. On 21 April 2012, it was announced that Florida-based marine salvage and wreck removal company Titan Salvage, with its partner company Micoperi, an Italian firm specialising in undersea engineering solutions, had been awarded the contract by Costa Crociere to refloat and tow away Costa Concordia to a port on the Italian mainland. The salvage operation used the port of Civitavecchia as its base. It was anticipated to begin in early May, take about 12 months and cost $300 million. Once in port, it will be dismantled and the materials sold as scrap. The operation is being led by South African freelance salvage master Nick Sloane.

Preparatory work consisted of building an underwater metal platform and artificial seabed made of sand and cement on the downhill side of the wreck and welding sponsons to the side of the ship above the surface. Once this was completed, the ship was pulled upright by cables over the course of two days and settled on the platform, a method called parbuckling. Additional sponsons will be attached to the other side of the ship; both sets will then be flushed of water and their buoyancy will refloat the ship to allow her to be towed to Sicily, where she will be scrapped. In June 2012, the barge was put in place, and the removal of her radar, waterslide and funnel began before stabilisation of the ship to prevent further slippage down the sloped seabed. Concordia’s funnel was cut off in December, and the salvage companies were in the process of building the underwater support structure by mid-January 2013. On 16 September 2013, the parbuckling of the ship began.

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The operation to right the ship and free it from the rocks began on September 16, 2013, but started late due to bad weather. Once the ship had been rotated slightly past a critical angle of 24° from its resting position, valves on the sponsons were opened to allow seawater to flood into them and the increasing weight of the water in the sponsons completed the rolling of the ship to the upright position at an accelerated pace, without further need of the winches and cables. The ship was returned to a fully upright position in the early hours of 17 September 2013, shortly before 3 a.m. CET. As of 16 September 2013 the salvage operation has cost over 600 million euros ($800 million). After the successful righting, the ship will stay on a platform while further inspections are made and the starboard sponsons are attached. Eventually, the ship will be re-floated and towed to an Italian port to be scrapped; this is expected to occur sometime in 2014.

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Salvage experts Smit International assessed removal of Costa Concordia and her 2,380 tonnes of fuel. Smit assessed that any salvage operation could take up to 10 months, and the ship may be a constructive total loss. Smit were contracted to remove her fuel, and during the operation it was reported that the ship had shifted 60 cm (23.6 in) since grounding, but there was no immediate prospect of her breaking up or sinking deeper.

Following a competitive tender, in May 2012 it was announced that Titan Salvage and Italian firm Micoperi had won the salvage contracts. Their plan, expected to cost $300 million and therefore expected to be the most expensive salvage ever, is to:

  • Secure the hull to the land using steel cables, to stop her falling deeper
  • Build a horizontal underwater platform below the ship
  • Bring the hull to vertical, by winching (or parbuckling) the hull onto the platform
  • Attach airtight tanks, called sponsons, to either side of the hull
  • Refloat the hull and tanks
  • Recovery tow to an Italian port

According to the BBC, the wreck will be removed by September 2013 and it will then be cut up. As of 17 September 2013, the Costa Concordia has been brought to a vertical position through a parbuckling procedure. The New York Times reported the the cost for salvaging the ship had risen to $799 million.

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