So Monday the 16th September will see the Costa Concordia main stage commencement of the initial lifting begin. The daring attempt to lift here is hardly a forgone conclusion, and although not used very often, has been successfully used in the past. The most notable recent event being the par-buckling of the Zeebrugger ferry in Europe, which resulted in the re-floating of the vessel, but the ultimate scrapping of her when buyers could not be found for the vessel.
So what is par-buckling?
The best way to describe it may be the use of purchasing power of its own weight to move it. A purchase on the side that you wish to roll the weight and pulled from the opposite side. Imagine a towel under a safe and on a flat surface on the ground. It may be that you cannot roll the heavy safe, but taking the end of the towel will increase your power two fold and gives you twice the leverage and so making the roll of the safe half as hard as it was.
In this case the objective being to roll the vessel upright and hold it there, assisted by the tank already attached (on the right hand side of the view above) to the vessel, and attach further tanks on the part that is currently submerged, so enabling these tanks to support, stabilize and lift the vessel when they are pumped dry giving the opportunity to salvage the vessel in its entirety.
This project since its inception has cost some EU600 million so far, and has been exasperated by the method of running the vessel aground (which is traditional as a way to save lives in the event of a sinking ship) which has put the vessel parallel to the shore, rather than what you might expect of a bows in fashion. That is to say you have the vessel under as much power you can muster and head straight for a beach.
In fact beaching of a flat bottomed vessel such as this would have been absolutely perfect had the skipper managed to put the bow on the beach, with less loss of life, and a very much easier salvage operation.
Instead this is what happened………
Thirty-two people died when the cruise ship hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012. It has been lying on its side ever since. Five people have already been convicted of manslaughter over the disaster, and the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship.
In this case it is not at all conclusive that this vessel can be raised, as the stresses on the vessel are in directions that it was not designed for, together with the vessel lying since January 2012 and being exposed for two winters makes it a nightmare for engineers to assess the long term damage.
With the costs associated with the salvage of the vessel, some might wonder why not just blow the vessel up where it is and pick up the pieces, but ecological issues as well as the fact there is a good risk of some severe pollution if the hull is split further by par buckling, or explosion.
In any event what started as a recovery operation has since been adapted to merely salvage. Re-floating now allowing the vessel to be towed away and broken up for scrap.
To see more read; The Parbuckling Project
UPDATE: 3PM 16TH SEPTEMBER
Engineering officials in Italy say they have succeeded in lifting the cruise ship Costa Concordia free of rocks, 20 months after it ran aground.
Efforts to right the ship, one of the largest and most daunting salvage operations ever undertaken, are expected to last into Tuesday.
The ship has been detached from rocks and moved on to a platform constructed on the sea bed, officials said.
Thirty-two people died when the ship ran aground off the Tuscan coast.
The bodies of two of those killed in the January 2012 disaster, by the island of Giglio, have never been found. There are hopes that they may be located during the operation, although officials said on Monday there was no sign of them so far.
Engineers have never tried to lift such a huge ship – over 951 feet long (290m) – so close to land.
The operation to right the vessel is now expected to go on through the night with engineers hoping that phase will be complete by early Tuesday.
UPDATE : 10.30 PM 16TH SEPTEMBER
Giglio, Italy (CNN) — The capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia was sitting upright early Tuesday after the first step of an unprecedented effort to salvage the ill-fated ship.
In a lengthy process involving massive pulleys, cables and steel tanks, a salvage crew managed to roll the 114,00-ton vessel off of the rocks where it ran aground in January 2012 as it passed the Italian island of Giglio. Once righted, the Concordia sported a sharp, slashing line separating the white paint of the exposed hull from the brownish muck that had collected on its submerged starboard side.
“It was a perfect operation, I would say,” said Franco Porcellacchia, the head of the technical team for the cruise line Costa Crochiere, owned by American firm Carnival Cruises.