Costa Concordia set afloat before final journey to scrapyard

World Today

Costa Concordia set afloat before final journey to scrapyard Pictured above is the upper deck of the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on the eve of an operation to refloat the liner off the Giglio Island (Photo: AFP/Costa Crociere Press Office)

The Costa Concordia is afloat once again. The vessel will be towed away and taken apart for scrap. Claudio Lavanga reports from Giglio, Italy.

Costa Concordia set afloat before final journey to scrapyard

The Costa Concordia is afloat once again. Thirty-two people died when the cruise ship hit a reef and capsized more than two years ago. The vessel will be towed away and taken apart for scrap. Claudio Lavanga reports from Giglio, Italy.

On Monday the re-floating of the Costa Concordia was finally underway — the last phase of the most daunting and expensive maritime salvage in history. Last September, the ship was rolled upright, considered an unprecedented feat of engineering.

The re-floating of the ship will be just as difficult. Thirty giant steel tanks filled with water have kept the Concordia stable on artificial underwater platforms.

Starting Monday, compressed air will be pumped in, giving the ship the buoyancy it needs to stay afloat. After it’s raised by the first two meters, the ship will be moved away from the cliff before re-floating can continue.

“There a lot of cracks in there, she is not pretty underwater,” said Salvage Master Nick Sloane. “We will have to monitor them and make sure they stop when we expect them to stop.”

The island’s mayor says the operation is incompatible with the touristic season but cannot wait for the island to go back to the pristine paradise it once was. The re-floating operation will last a week. After that, the Concordia will be towed away for its last journey to the scrapyard.