|Photo by Susan J. Young|
Costa Crociere and the Costa Concordia Emergency Commissioner’s Office have announced that Titan Salvage, an American marine salvage and wreck removal company, and its Italian partner, Micoperi, have been awarded the project to remove the stricken ship from its rocky perch off Giglio Island, Italy.
What's interesting about the decision? The project selected is a humongous undertaking because the salvager will patch the damaged hull, pump out water, refloat and stabilize the ship, and then tow it in one piece to an Italian port - rather than cutting the ship into pieces and removing those one by one.
“We are very pleased to announce another important step toward salvaging the wreck from Giglio Island,” said Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi. “As was the case with the removal of the fuel, we have sought to identify the best solution to safeguard the island and its marine environment and to protect its tourism."
Costa said the salvage work will begin in early May - subject to final approval from the Italian authorities - and it's expected to take about a year to complete.
According to the Costa announcement, "Titan Salvage is an American-owned specialist marine salvage and wreck removal company, part of the Crowley Group, and is a world leader in its field. Micoperi is a well-known Italian marine contractor with a long history as a specialist in underwater construction and engineering."
Throughout the salvage operation, environmental protection will have top priority, Costa said. Once the main work is complete, the sea bottom at the accident site will be cleaned and marine flora replanted.
The plan also includes measures to safeguard the island of Giglio’s tourism and its broader economic welfare. The main operating base for the salvage removal will be located near Civitavecchia, where equipment and materials will be stored, thus avoiding any impact on Giglio's port activities.
In addition, salvage workers' presence will not have any significant impact on the availability of hotel accommodations on the island during the summer season, the line said.
Once Costa Concordia is re-floated, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port. There, Costa said it will be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of Italian authorities.
The final removal plan was selected by an evaluation team that consisted of specialist representatives from Costa Crociere, Carnival Corporation, London Offshore Consultants and the Standard P&I Club.
Costa said all six project proposals submitted by the March 3 deadline were of a very high standard, but the evaluation team decided that the Titan Salvage/Micoperi proposal best fulfilled the main objectives set out in the tender specifications.
Those included removal of the wreck in one piece, minimal risk, minimal environmental impact, protection of Giglio’s economy and tourism industry, and maximum safety of the work.
The removal of the vessel will be the final step of the salvage. Fuel removal was completed in March.
“Caretaking" operations, which include cleaning up the seabed and removing debris caused by the incident, will continue until Titan Salvage and Micoperi begin their work at the site.