The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen outside Giglio harbour February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Officials in Italy have met with the public in Isola del Giglio to discuss ongoing plans for the removal of the Costa Concordia wreckage, including providing an updated timeline for when the hulk will be refloated for the first time in more than two years.
On Monday afternoon, Commissioner for the Concordia Emergency Franco Gabrielli, along with the President of the Observatory Maria Sargentini, Giglio Mayor Sergio Ortelli and Costa Crociere representatives, met with the residents of the Giglio to provide a progress report on the salvage project as the winter season comes to an end.
Currently there are over 290 technicians at work and in the next few weeks that number is expected to increase up to 400, officials said.
Officials informed that the next phase of the project includes the installation of the last 19 sponsons, including 15 on the starboard side and 4 on the port side (sea side), which will bring the total number of sponsons to 30 prior to the ship’s refloating.
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In preparation of these operations, Titan Micoperi Consortium technicians are working on the installation of structures called bumpers, which will create a makeshift surface for the alignment of the sponsons along the damaged areas on the starboard side.
The sponsons will be installed and connected underwater with chains and cables in a complex operation that is highly dependent weather conditions.
Currently, removal of the winterization braces are in progress on the starboard side to allow the positioning of the sponsons.
The first 4 sponsons, outfitted with an electrical-pneumatic system needed for the the refloating phase, have already been transferred from the Livorno Terminal to Marina di Carrara. The additional sponsons will follow in the coming days, officials said, before they are delivered to Giglio Island in ready condition for installation.
The positioning of the first sponsons is expected by the end of April following approval from appropriate authorities.
Officials said that after the first two sponsons are positioned, technicians will be able to verify precisely the overall timetable, but as of right now refloating could come by end of June.
Environmental monitoring activities are ongoing at the site and results do not indicate any critical issue.
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.
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