On Friday 13th January 2012 at 2145 hrs COSTA CONCORDIA ran aground off the eastern shore of Isola Giglio with 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew.
She left Civitavecchia Port around 1915 hrs and was bound to a week long Mediterranean Cruise. As she made her way north west along the Italian coastline at 2130 hrs, Captain Francesco Schettino ordered the ship to be steered close to the island of Giglio as a “salute”. Around 2145 hrs she ran aground while travelling with around 16 knots. The tore opened a 50 m (160 ft) gash on the port side of her hull, which soon flooded parts of the engine room, cutting power from the engines and ship services. With water flooding in and the ship listing, she drifted back towards the island and grounded near shore, then rolled onto her starboard side, lying in an unsteady position on a rocky underwater ledge.
The Master did not warn the SAR Authority (the warning was received by a person calling from shore) and, despite the SAR Authority started to contact the ship few minutes after 2200 hrs , he informed these Authorities about a breach only at 2226 hrs, launching the related distress only at 2238hrs (on insistence of Livorno SAR Authority). However SAR activities started at 2216 hrs when Livorno Authority had ordered the Guardia Di Finanza G104 APPRUZZI that was already in the area, to approach the liner. From the above mentioned time the following SAR resources were involved – 25 patrol boats, 14 vessels, 4 tugs, and 8 helicopters.
Only at 2254 hrs the abandon ship was ordered but it was not preceded by an effective general emergency alarm definitely (in fact several passengers testified that they did not catch those signal voice announcement). The first lifeboats lowered at 2255 hrs and at 2310 hrs moved to the shore with the first passengers on board. Crewmembers, Master included, abandoned the bridge around 2320 (one officer only remained on the bridge to coordinate the abandon ship). Around midnight the vessel listed at 40° to her starboard side. During the rescue operations she listed to 80°. At 0034 hrs the Master communicated to the SAR Authorities that he was on board a lifeboat with other officers. All the saved passengers and crewmembers reached Giglio Island which was only few metres. First rescue operations were completed at 0617 hrs, saving 4194 persons. Three more persons were put in safety on Sunday 15th January. The rescue operations continued and on 22nd March the last victim was found. The number of victims were 32 ( 26 passengers and 4 crew members) with 2 still missing (one passenger, one crewmember).
A recording was released in which the coastguard ordered Captain Schettino to ‘get back on board’. Capt Schettino was arrested and later went on trial, charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and abandoning ship. He admitted making a navigational error, and told investigators he had “ordered the turn too late” as the ship sailed close to the island. In fact the ship’s owners, Costa Cruises, stated that the captain had made an “unapproved, unauthorised” deviation in course, sailing too close to the island in order to show the ship to locals.
Automatic tracking systems show the route of the COSTA CONCORDIA until she ran aground on 13th January. Data from 14th August 2011 show the ship followed a similar course close to the shoreline, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence. On 6th January 2012, she passed through the same strait but sailed much further from the island.
The Dutch salvage firm Smit brought a barge alongside the ship and divers installed external tanks to collect the diesel. More than 2,200 tonnes of fuel was eventually extracted.
The decision to salvage the ship, rather than break it up, was taken in May 2012, four months after the disaster. The contract awarded jointly to salvage companies Titan and Micoperi was described as an unprecedented operation. Infact on Tuesday 17th September 2013 COSTA CONCORDIA was brought to a vertical position through a parbuckling procedure. The cost for salvaging the ship increased to $799 million of which in addition the ship had suffered severe hull deformations in two places.
On Monday 14th July 2014, work commenced to refloat her in preparation for towing. At this point, the costs had risen to €1 billion. Including tow cost, €100 million for the ship to be broken up for scrap and the cost of repairing damage to Giglio island, the estimated final cost was expected to be €1.5 billion ($2 billion).
On Wednesday 23rd July 2014, having been refloated, the ship commenced her final journey under tow at a speed of 2 knots (4 km/h; 2 mph), with a 14 ship escort, to be scrapped in Genoa.
She arrived at Genoa on Sunday 27th July, after a four day journey and she was berthed to a seawall at the port, awaiting dismantling processes.
On 11th May 2015, following initial dismantling, but still kept afloat by the salvage sponsons, the hull was towed 10 miles (16 km) to the Superbacino dock in Genoa for removal of the upper decks. The last of the sponsons were removed in August 2016 and the hull was taken in to a drydock on 1 September for final dismantling. Scrapping of the ship was completed on 7 July 2017.
The captain Francesco Schettino, who was dubbed Captain Coward for his actions, was sentenced to 16 years in jail for manslaughter last year. More than 4,000 passengers were evacuated from the stricken vessel but the captain fled before everyone had made it safety.
Watermarked Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Tuesday 14th January 2020