The two-year saga of Costa Concordia’s planned removal from waters offshore from Giglio, Italy, is apparently nearing a close. Weather permitting, the ship will be transported to Genoa, Italy on July 20. It will then be scrapped.
Scrapping in Genoa?
The Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, has reported that the decision to scrap the ship in Genoa, rather than at another yard in Turkey or elsewhere, occurred during a meeting last week at Costa Crociere’s Genoa headquarters.
Italian officials reportedly had lobbied for the scrapping to be conducted in Italy, although companies in several countries bid on the project. While some bids were cheaper than that of the Genoa bid, the lengthier water journeys needed to reach yards in other countries could also be more risky, given the fragility of the ship.
A towing trip to Genoa will likely take about five days. It’s expected that many observers including Greenpeace will travel alongside the ship during the transit, given the environmental sensitivities about the wreck.
According to wire service Reuters, once the ship reaches Genoa, a consortium that reportedly includes the Mariotti shipyard, San Giorgio and Saipem will handle the scrapping. Agents can read the Reuters story here: http://gcaptain.com/costa-chooses-saipem-consortium-scrap-concordia.
Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corporation, and Saipem have not yet commented publicly on the potential plan, which apparently must be approved by the Italian government.
Maritime Expert's Viewpoint
Maritime expert Peter Knego who blogs about cruise lines and maritime topics for www.maritimematters.com has spent much time in the yards that specialize in breaking up ships for scrap. His own Web site, www.midshipcentury.com, sells furnishings and artwork salvaged from scrapped cruise ships and classic ocean liners.
Knego says he's heard conflicting reports as to how the ship will be transported to Genoa, but “it seems like they are towing her since one of the main factors in going with Genoa is that it is closer and thus less risky than going to Turkey or, say India, to scrap her.” He believes the official announcement and final details about the project will be released later in June.
“Frankly, I'd expect delays and confusing information until they actually get the operation going," he says, also emphasizing that towing has its own risks -- based on such factors as breaches in repair work, a broken tow line or strong currents.
“Many ships have grounded or sunk while under tow, especially damaged ones like the Concordia,” Knego said. When considering Genoa versus other scrap yards, other factors also come into play.
For example, if the ship was sent to Turkey for scrapping, Knego says they’d normally have to go in bow first and line the ship up in such a way – given the sponsons or inflatable supports holding the ship steady and afloat – that might block several plots owned by different ship breakers. That’s definitely problematic, he says: “They are like feudal lords over there and few of them get along so the scrapping process would be a nightmare if tried this way.”
In contrast, “Genoa has large shipyards and/or drydocks that they could put the ship into and systematically cut her into pieces," said Knego. "Their challenge will be remediating the remaining toxins in a way that will satisfy environmental regulations.”
Thirty-two people died in the Costa Concordia accident, when the captain and bridge crew maneuvered the ship close to Giglio's shoreline for a “salute” to friends and family on the island.
After the ship ran aground and began to tilt, passengers were not evacuated in a timely manner. Many were told to go back down into their cabins and await further instructions.
Captain Francesco Schettino was widely criticized after rescue personnel responding to the accident spotted him in a lifeboat, despite the fact that the ship had not been totally evacuated. An emergency services audio tape reveals an Italian Coast Guard responder ordering him to go back on the ship and help with the evacuation.
Schettino instead told the responder that he fell into the lifeboat as the ship tilted and planned to direct the rescue efforts from land. He was charged with multiple criminal counts including manslaughter; he visited the wreck of Costa Concordia earlier this year during the trial proceedings.
Under a court-approved plea bargain, several operational and hotel management crew members are already serving jail time in Italy.
In preparation for the ship’s ultimate removal from Giglio, a year ago, Costa Concordia was “rolled” (or parbuckled) onto a supporting platform and secured with massive floats to keep it upright. Our prior story explaining that process is here: www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/time-now-massive-salvage-operation-begins-costa-concordia-42558.
While the ship was successfully righted, the line needed to wait until the end of the 2013-2014 winter season and waters became calmer for transporting Costa Concordia to a scrapyard.
Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on the movement of Costa Concordia to the scrapyard; we'll provide details as they are released.