Costa Concordia heads to the scrapyard

Maneouvres began early yesterday to remove the rusty hulk of the Costa Concordia cruise liner from the Italian island where it struck rocks and capsized two years ago, killing 32 people.

A convoy of 14 vessels, led by the tug boat Blizzard, started to tow the Concordia later yesterday to a port near Genoa in northern Italy where it is due to arrive on Sunday, before being broken up for scrap.

The once-gleaming white luxury liner sank off the holiday island of Giglio in January 2012 after sailing too close to shore. Its wreck has remained there ever since as engineers embarked on one of the largest maritime salvage operations in history.

Over the past week, salvagers have slowly lifted the 114,500-tonne ship from underwater platforms by pumping air into 30 large metal boxes, or sponsons, attached to the hull.

Franco Porcellachia, engineer in charge of the salvage, said on Tuesday that his team had done everything in their power to make sure the ship, which is around two-and-a-half times the size of the Titanic, was structurally sound.

“When we are in sight of the port of Genoa, we can declare victory,” said Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s civil protection service, on Wednesday.

The whole salvage operation is set to cost the ship’s owners Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp $2 billion, its chief executive said earlier this month.

Bad weather delayed the process by two days, and salvage master Nick Sloane said yesterday that “forecasts are good” and “today is a big day for Giglio”.



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