On the night of January 13, 2012, the 114,500 ton Costa Concordia ran aground at Isola del Giglio, Italy, killing 32 people and eventually coming to rest alongside a reef just outside the sleepy island’s only port. The event kicked off a flurry of regulatory changes in the cruise ship industry, not to mention what would become the largest and most expensive maritime salvage in history.
A team consisting of Titan Salvage, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Crowley Maritime Corp., and the Italian firm Micoperi won the tender for the ship’s removal. The plan was to raise the vessel in one piece using an age-old technique known as “parbuckling,” which basically means using leverage to rotate a ship or large opbject to an upright position, before towing it away from the island. Use of the technique has been done before, perhaps most notably to right U.S. Navy ships following the attack on Pearl Harbor, only never on this scale.
Over the last year a team of about 500 salvage workers and engineers has worked around the clock to make sure the parbuckling, easily the most crucial part of salvage, went off without a hitch. There was no plan B, so it had to work… and it did.