Assuming everything goes as planned, the Costa Concordia shipwreck should be upright by the end of summer.
Engineers of the Titan-Micoperi consortium hired to salvage the ship confirmed the news Tuesday that the “parbuckling,” or the process of rotating the ship upright, will be completed in early September.
The parbuckling will allow salvors to check the currently submerged (starboard) side of the wreck, which has been inaccessible since the ship struck rocks and partially sank on the island of Giglio on January 13, 2012. Once upright, crews will be able to more easily assess the overall condition of the ship, make necessary repairs and additions, and float the thing out of there.
On Tuesday, residents of Giglio were provided with an update on the wreck removal process from, among others, Franco Gabrielli, Chief Commissioner of Italy’s Protezione Civile, which is the agency in charge of overseeing the operation. The residents were told that although technical details of the next phases still need to be approved before a more accurate timeline is provided, the removal process is moving forward steadily with about 500 workers and 30 vessels working around-the-clock.
Crews today are installing the last of six subsea platforms on which the ship will rest once upright. Each platform measures about 32 feet long by 22 meters high and weighs about 1,000 tons. The platforms are supported by large pillars that are attached to the granite seabed at a depth of about 10 meters.
Also in progress is the installation of high strength grout bags and mattresses, required to fill the gap between the two spurs of rock on which the wreck lies.
In addition, two of the eleven sponsons, or caissons, have already been positioned, welded and attached on the port side of the ship. The sponsons, built by Fincantieri, are large watertight boxes made of steel that will filled with water, providing leverage during the parbuckling, and then emptied, providing for flotation. Another 9 sponsons still need be positioned prior to the parbuckling. In total, 15 sponsons will be installed to each side of the ship prior to refloating.
As gCaptain reported last week, there has been no damage has been registered to the marine ecosystem outside the area of the construction site and the water quality around the site remains consistent with other portions of the island.
The parbuckling is easily the most anticipated phase of the removal process. It will be performed using strand jacks which will be tightening several cables attached to the top of the sponsons and to the subsea platforms. This is a very delicate phase, during which the forces involved have to be offset carefully to rotate the wreck without deforming the hull.
The entire uprighting operation is expect to take a few days, and will not interfere with tourist season in Giglio.