The Costa Concordia wreck will be raised from its resting place next week, as long as the weather cooperates. The cruise ship has laid on its side in the waters off of Italy’s Giglio Island since it ran aground in January 2012.
The giant vessel will be rolled off the seabed and onto underwater platforms in a massive undertaking that has been in the works for more than a year.
While the exact day of the Concordia’s rotation (also called parbuckling) isn’t set, NBC News reports that it will likely happen on Monday.
The massive ship was crippled when it maneuvered too close to the island and hit a rock on January 13, 2012. The Concordia capsized, causing a chaotic nighttime evacuation of more than 4,000 passengers and crew.
In preparation for raising the Costa Concordia, divers pumped 18,000 metric tons of cement into bags underneath the ship to support it and keep it from twisting and breaking up during the raising effort. The entire operation next week will last between eight and 10 hours.
Discovery News notes that the salvage of the Costa Concordia is expected to be the most expensive and most daunting operation in history. It will cost about $300 million.
Franco Gabrielli, head of the civil protection agency, explained at a press conference, “This is an operation that has never been attempted before. Once started, there is no going back.”
US company Titan Salvage and Italian marine firm Micoperi are in charge of the operation. The companies will use the underwater platforms and a series of jacks, pullies, and cables to rotate the ship upright. Watertight boxes on one side of the ship (called cassions) to will help stabilize the vessel and keep it upright.
Once the ship is upright, another set of cassions will be attached to the damaged side to keep it stable. The boxes will be drained of water, allowing the ship to float to the surface. At the end of the process, only 60 feet of the Costa Concordia will remain below the water line. The ship will then be towed to an Italian port where it will be dismantled in spring 2014.
The rotation is the most difficult part of the operation because the ship could twist wrong and fall apart. However, Gabrielli believes this scenario would be “a remote event.” Along with raising the Costa Concordia, crews will make it a priority to recover two bodies of passengers believed to remain on the ship.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]