Salvage crews have installed the first piece of new hardware on the Costa Concordia since the end of the winter season in Giglio, another giant watertight steel box that will eventually be used to refloat the shipwreck.
According to the project’s website, the first of 19 new sponsons to be installed prior to the refloating was positioned on the vessel Monday following 2 1/2 days of work.
The sponson, known as S13, the largest by both weight and size, is now positioned on the formerly submerged starboard side (shore side) of the wreck about 11 meters from the artificial seabed on which the vessel now rests.
In order to install, the sponson was filled with water and submerged next to the wreck using the rotating crane barge Conquest, allowing for crews to anchor it underwater using a complex system of chains and cables. Technicians then partially emptied the sponson in order to keep the chains tensioned.
Before the refloating phase, another 14 sponsons need to be positioned on the starboard side and 4 on the port side (sea side) of the Concordia, which will bring the total number of sponsons to 30. The sponsons will then be completely emptied, providing the buoyancy needed to refloat the Concordia and prepare it for its transportation.
The effort to refloat and remove the Costa Concordia ramped up earlier this month following the end of the winter season in Giglio. Officials have previously said that an accurate timetable for refloating will not be determined until the first two new sponsons are installed this spring, but as of right now refloating could come by end of June.
The Costa Concordia ran aground January 13, 2012 and partially sank along the small Mediterranean Island just off the coast of Tuscany, killing 32 people. The Captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial for multiple charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.