Costa Concordia disaster

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Costa Concordia disaster
A Costa Concordia kiemelése.jpg
Costa Concordia during salvage operation, July 2013
EventGrounding of cruise ship Costa Concordia
CauseStruck a reef while deviating from planned course
LocationOff Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, Italy, Mediterranean Sea
Date13 January 2012
CaptainFrancesco Schettino
OperatorCosta Cruises
On board
  • 4,252[1]
  • Passengers: 3,206[2]
  • Crew and personnel: 1,023[2]
Losses32 dead, 64 injured
SalvageFuel and oil extraction: March 2012
Righting: September 2013
 
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Costa Concordia disaster
A Costa Concordia kiemelése.jpg
Costa Concordia during salvage operation, July 2013
EventGrounding of cruise ship Costa Concordia
CauseStruck a reef while deviating from planned course
LocationOff Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, Italy, Mediterranean Sea
Date13 January 2012
CaptainFrancesco Schettino
OperatorCosta Cruises
On board
  • 4,252[1]
  • Passengers: 3,206[2]
  • Crew and personnel: 1,023[2]
Losses32 dead, 64 injured
SalvageFuel and oil extraction: March 2012
Righting: September 2013

The Costa Concordia[p 1] (Call sign: IBHD, IMO number: 9320544, MMSI number: 247158500) is an Italian cruise ship that partially sank when it ran aground at Isola del Giglio,[p 2] Tuscany, on 13 January 2012, with the loss of 32 lives.

The ship, carrying 4,252 people from all over the world, was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia in Lazio, when she hit a reef during an unofficial near-shore salute to the local islanders.

To perform this manoeuvre, Captain Francesco Schettino[p 3] deviated from the ship's computer-programmed route, claiming that he was familiar with the local seabed.

The collision with the reef could be heard onboard and caused a temporary power blackout when water flooded the engine room. The captain, having lost control of the ship, did nothing to contact the nearby harbour for help but tried to resume the original course it was on prior to the U-turn back to Giglio. In the end, he had to order evacuation when the ship grounded after an hour of listing and drifting. Meanwhile, the harbour authorities were alerted by worried passengers, and vessels were sent to the rescue. During a six-hour evacuation, most passengers were brought ashore. The search for missing people continued for several months, with all but two being accounted for. The ship was uprighted on 17 September 2013 and on 24 October 2013 it was reported that DNA analysis of one body found earlier in the same month confirmed it was the body of missing Italian passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi.[3]

Costa Concordia, operated by Costa Cruises, is one of the largest ships ever to be abandoned and she dominated international media in the days after the disaster. Schettino was arrested on preliminary charges of manslaughter in connection with causing a shipwreck, failing to assist 300 passengers, and failing to be the last to leave the wreck.[4] He was later charged with failing to describe to maritime authorities the scope of the disaster[5][6] and with abandoning incapacitated passengers.[7] Costa Cruises offered compensation to passengers (to a limit of €11,000 a person) to pay for all damages including the value of the cruise. One-third of the passengers took this offer. The company also at first offered to pay Captain Schettino's legal costs but later declined.

There were immediate fears of an ecological disaster, as the partially submerged wreck was in danger of slipping into much deeper water, with a risk of oil pollution that would have devastated the popular tourist zone. The danger was averted, with all the fuel and oil being extracted safely by 24 March 2012. Costa Concordia has been officially declared a "constructive total loss" by the insurance company, with her salvage expected to be the biggest operation of its kind (the ship's displacement is 50,000 tons).[8][9] On 16 September 2013, the parbuckle salvage of the ship began.[10] The operation started late due to bad weather,[11] and the wreck was set upright in the early hours of 17 September 2013.[12] The ship is due to be refloated and towed away to be cut up for scrap.[13]

Route[edit]

MV Costa Concordia before the disaster
MV Costa Concordia before the disaster
Wrecked ship with boulder in hull gash

Costa Concordia, with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members on board,[2] was sailing off Isola del Giglio on the night of 13 January 2012, having begun a planned seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia to Savona and five other ports.[14] She struck her port side on a reef[15][16] at 21:42 or 21:45 local time.[17] The reef is charted as an area known as Le Scole,[18][19] about 800 metres (870 yd) south of the entrance to the harbour of Giglio Porto, on the island's east coast. The initial impact was at a point 8 metres (26 ft) below water at the "Scola piccola"[15][20] 42°21′20″N 10°55′50″E / 42.35556°N 10.93056°E / 42.35556; 10.93056, the most seaward exposed rock of Le Scole, which tore a 50-metre (160 ft) gash in the ship's port side below the water line.[21] The impact sheared two long strips of steel from the ship's hull; these were later found on the seabed 92 to 96 metres (302 to 315 ft) from the main island.[15][22] The ship has a large boulder embedded in her hull at the aft end of the impact gash.[23] A few minutes after the impact, the head of the engine room warned the captain that the hull had an irreparable tear of 70 metres (230 ft)[24] through which water submerged the generators and engines.[25]

Without propulsive power and on emergency electric power, the ship "shifted position only by means of inertia and the rudders"[4] and continued north from Le Scole until well past Giglio Porto.[26] Captain Schettino has said various instruments were not functioning.[27] Reports differ whether the ship listed to port soon after the impact and when she began listing to starboard.[28][29] At 22:10, the vessel turned south. The vessel was then listing to starboard, initially by about 20°, coming to rest by 22:44[30] at Punta del Gabbianara in about 20 metres[31] of water at an angle of heel of about 70°. Captain Schettino attributes the final grounding of the ship at Punta del Gabbianara to his own effort to manoeuvre the ship there.[32] In contrast, on 3 February, the chief of the Italian Coast Guard testified that the final grounding of the ship at Punta del Gabbianara may not have been related to any attempts to manoeuvre the ship,[33] implying that only a fortunate coincidence of winds and tides prevented the ship from sinking in the deep water surrounding Isola del Giglio.[citation needed]

Situation on the bridge[edit]

Captain Schettino stated that, before approaching the island, he turned off the alarm system for the ship's computer navigation system.[34] "I was navigating by sight, because I knew those seabeds well. I had done the move three, four times."[35] He told investigators that he saw waves breaking on the reef and turned abruptly, swinging the side of the hull into the reef.[36] "I have to take responsibility for the fact that I made a judgment error."[36] "This time I ordered the turn too late."[37] The captain initially stated that the ship was about 300 metres (330 yd) from the shore (about the length of the vessel) and hit an uncharted rock.[38] However, the ship's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, told investigators that Schettino had left his reading glasses in his cabin and repeatedly asked Ambrosio to check the radar for him.[39][40]

The captain said that Costa Cruises managers told him to perform 13 January sail-past.[41] On 14 August 2011, the ship took a similar sail-past route, but not as close to Le Scole.[42] 14 August sail-past was approved by Costa Cruises and was done in daylight during an island festival.[35] The normal shipping route passes about 8 km (5 mi) offshore.[43][44][p 4] Costa Cruises confirmed that the course taken in 2012 was "not a defined [computer programmed] route for passing Giglio."[47][p 5] In an interview with the Italian TV channel Canale 5 on 10 July 2012, Schettino stated that this was a contributing factor to the accident.[49] In addition, at the captain's invitation, the maître d'hôtel of the ship, who is from the island, was on the ship's bridge to view the island during the sail-past.[50] A further person on the bridge was a Moldovan dancer, Domnica Cemortan, who testified that she was in a romantic relationship with Captain Schettino.[51]

Situation on deck[edit]

Passengers were in the dining hall when there was a sudden, loud bang, which a crew member (speaking over the intercom) ascribed to an "electrical failure".[52] "We told the guests everything was [okay] and under control and we tried to stop them panicking", a cabin steward recalled.[28] The ship lost cabin electrical power shortly after the initial collision.[53] "The boat started shaking. The noise—there was panic, like in a film, dishes crashing to the floor, people running, people falling down the stairs," said a survivor. Those on board said the ship suddenly tilted to the port side.[28] Passengers were later advised to put on their life jackets.[52] One half-hour before the abandon ship order, one crew member was videoed telling passengers at a muster station, "We have solved the problems we had and invite everyone to return to their cabins."[33] When the ship later turned around, it began to list approximately 20° to the starboard side, creating problems in launching the lifeboats. The president of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said normal lifeboat evacuation became "almost impossible" because the ship listed so quickly.[54]


Rescue[edit]

Aground with rigid lifeboats in foreground and inflatables hanging from the side of the ship

After the grounding, passengers and crew were taken ashore from the ship by lifeboats and helicopters or swam to the island, leaving about 40 people missing. Half of these were later found inside the ship, most of them deceased.[citation needed]

Evacuation[edit]

In the first contact, made at 22:12, between Italian port officials and the Costa Concordia after its impact on the reef, an unidentified officer on board the cruise ship insisted that it was suffering only from an electrical "black-out".[17] A passenger's video recorded at 22:20 showed panicked passengers in life jackets being told by a crew member that "everything is under control" and that they should return to their cabins.[57][58][Already mentioned] No lifeboat passenger evacuation drill had taken place for the approximately 600 passengers who had just embarked.[59] A ship's cook said that Captain Schettino ordered dinner around 22:30.[60] Around the same time, a patrol boat of the Guardia di Finanza made a call to the Costa Concordia, but no answer came.[61]

Captain Schettino participated in three telephone calls with the cruise line's crisis management officer.[29] At 22:26, Schettino told the Port of Livorno's harbour master that the ship had taken water through an opening in the port side and requested a tug boat.[62] Port authorities were not alerted to the collision until 22:42, about an hour after the impact, and the order to evacuate the ship was not given until 22:50.[63] Some passengers jumped into the water to swim to shore,[64] while others, ready to evacuate the vessel, were delayed by crew members up to 45 minutes, as they resisted immediately lowering the lifeboats.[65] Some sources report that the ship did not list until 23:15 and therefore if Schettino had given the order to abandon ship, the lifeboats could have been launched earlier, allowing the passengers to reach safety.[15][29] In contrast, one expert stated that a delay might be justified considering the hazards in launching lifeboats while a ship is still moving.[66]

Rescued passengers huddle ashore.

Captain Roberto Bosio, a captain of a sister ship, who was onboard Costa Concordia as a passenger, is said to have coordinated the officers in much of the evacuation. He began to evacuate the ship before Schettino's order.[67] Many junior officers and crew members who were aware of the severity of the situation also began readying lifeboats and moving passengers from their cabins before the abandon ship orders were given, a move that has been characterised as a "mutiny".[15][25]

While the vast majority of the ship's multinational personnel held positions that did not require a seaman's qualifications (as they handled services like laundry, cooking, entertainment, cleaning, minding children, and waiting tables), according to a senior shipping official, they had received mandatory training in basic safety to be able to help in situations like this. Although all of them speak at least basic English, most speak no Italian.[68] Several passengers asserted that the crew did not help or were untrained in launching the lifeboats. This allegation was denied by the crew, one of whom stated, "The crew members, whether Filipino or Colombians or Indians, tried to the best of our ability to help passengers survive the shipwreck. Comments by some of the passengers that we were unhelpful have hurt us."[69] A third engineer officer from the ship's engine room also pointed out that "Unlike the captain, we were there until the end. We did all we could to avoid catastrophe."[25] Costa Cruises CEO Pier Luigi Foschi praised the crew and personnel, despite difficulties resulting from the apparent lack of direction from the ship's officers and problems in communication.[68]

Three people reportedly drowned after jumping overboard, and another seven were critically injured.[70] The local fire chief said his men "plucked 100 people from the water and saved around 60 others who were trapped in the boat."[71] Five helicopters from the Italian Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force took turns airlifting survivors still aboard and ferrying them to safety.[72]

Rescued passengers and crew in Giglio Porto

According to investigators, Captain Schettino left the ship by around 23:30.[38] In one telephone call from the Coast Guard to Schettino, Captain Gregorio Maria De Falco repeatedly ordered Schettino to return to the ship from his lifeboat and take charge of the ongoing passenger evacuation. At one point in the call, De Falco grew so angry at Schettino's stalling that he raised his voice and told Schettino, "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" (translated as "Get the fuck [back] on board!", "Get [back] on board, for fuck's sake!" or "Get on board, damn it!" depending on the source).[73][74][75][76] One of these calls took place at 01:46.[77]

At 01:04 an Air Force officer who was lowered onboard by helicopter reported that there were still 100 people on board.[62] The ship's priest said he was among the last leaving the ship at around 01:30.[78] The deputy-mayor of Isola del Giglio, Mario Pellegrini, who went on board as part of the rescue operations, praised the ship's doctor and a young Costa Concordia officer, the only officer he met on board, for their help. He and the young officer, Simone Canessa,[79] were "shoulder to shoulder" until 05:30.[80] One of the missing crewmen, a waiter, was last seen helping passengers.[69]

At 03:05, 600 passengers were evacuated to the mainland by ferry. At 03:44, the Air Force officer reported that 40 to 50 people were still on board. At 04:46, the evacuation was noted as "complete" on the Port of Livorno's Harbour Master log.[62] The next day, the survivors were transported to Porto Santo Stefano, where the first center for co-ordination and assistance was established.[81] Prime Minister Mario Monti announced his intention to propose to the President of the Republic to grant the gold medal for civil valor to the common people of Isola del Giglio and Monte Argentario for their conduct during the rescue.[82]

Search for missing people[edit]

Between 14 and 30 January, rescue divers searched within the ship for missing people. The head of the coast guard diving team described the conditions inside the ship, still perched on a 37-metre (120 ft) ledge, as "disastrous".[83] Pitch-black conditions with large furniture drifting around made the rescue operation hazardous.[84] Divers would find a path into the ship and tie down obstacles such as mattresses, before making noise to alert trapped people.[85] The divers worked in pairs for safety and searched each assigned area slowly in a zig-zag manner. The search dives were planned as 40 minutes in duration, with sufficient extra compressed air in the scuba tanks in case of emergency. The divers had two torches positioned on their helmets because underwater visibility varied from a few inches to about 2 feet. In addition, divers marked their route by trailing a line to be used to lead them back out in low visibility[86] and positioned extra emergency air tanks within the ship.[87] The divers were from the Navy, Coast Guard, and Vigili del Fuoco.[88]

On 14 January, divers searched the ship until nightfall.[89] Divers and firefighters continued to search for survivors who might have been trapped in the ship, and rescued a Korean newlywed couple trapped in a cabin two decks above the water line,[90] and the ship's purser, who had a broken leg.[91]

On 16 January, violent waters shifted the ship about 1.5 centimetres (0.6 in), interrupting rescue work[92]—trap doors were shut and debris fell on rescuers[88]—and giving rise to fear that the ship could be pushed into 68-metre (224 ft) deep waters[92] or that the fuel could leak.[93] Operations resumed about three hours later.[92] Throughout the process, rescuers set off explosives to create holes in the ship's hull to reach previously inaccessible areas.[84][94][95][96] On 18 January, rescue efforts were suspended again when the ship shifted, but shortly afterward were resumed.[97]

On 20 January, the ship began shifting by 1.5 centimetres (0.6 in) per hour,[97] but on 24 January, Franco Gabrielli, the Italian Civil Protection Agency head, said the ship was "stable".[98] The same day divers recovered the body of the 16th victim.[99] On 29 January, the operation was suspended because the ship had shifted 3.8 centimetres (1.5 in) in six hours and because of high waves. Gabrielli said, "Our first goal was to find people alive ... Now we have a single, big goal, and that is that this does not translate into an environmental disaster."[100] By the next day, operations resumed.[101]

On 28 January, the 17th body, that of a female crew member, was recovered from a submerged part of the vessel.[100] On 31 January, Italy's Civil Protection agency terminated the search in the submerged part of the ship because the deformed hull caused unacceptable safety concerns for divers.[102] On 22 February, guided by information from passengers as to where bodies might be,[103] divers found eight additional bodies in the wreck. A "special platform" was assembled to facilitate swift recovery of the bodies,[104] four of which were recovered. On 22 February, the recovery was suspended by inclement weather.[105] On 4 March, officials reported that they would use "sophisticated robot-like equipment" to find the bodies.[106]

On 22 March, another five bodies were discovered in a remote section of the ship believed to be inside the hull.[107]

On 15 January 2013, the final two bodies were thought to have been located (those of a female passenger and male crew member), but cannot currently be recovered, as they are located near the stern and will not be accessible until the rotating of the ship. However, the companies performing the refloating operation denied any bodies had been found.[108]

The search for the two still missing continued after the ship was uprighted on 17 September 2013. On 26 September 2013, unidentified remains were found near the central part of the ship, where they were last seen. The remains were to be subjected to DNA testing to determine their identity.[109][110][111] On 8 October 2013, the family of missing crew member Russel Rebello was informed that a body believed to be his was found near the third deck at the stern of the ship.[112][113][114] Items on the body were reportedly subsequently identified as belonging to missing passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi instead and on 24 October 2013 it was reported that DNA analysis confirmed it was her body.[3][115][116] Additional bone fragments of unknown identity were found in the wreck a few days after the body was found.[116][117][118]

On 23 October 2013, it was announced that the search for the missing while the wreck was still in the water was completed as far as technically possible. Depending on the outcome of identification analyses of remains already found, further search activities may be conducted in the wreck for the missing crew member Russel Rebello after it has been removed from the water.[116][119]

Wreck[edit]

The wreck came to rest on a rock ledge and there were concerns that it might slide into deeper water. In a first step to prevent pollution of the shore and assist in a refloat the ship, her oil and fuel tanks were emptied, an operation completed on 24 March 2012.[citation needed]

Securing wreck site and protecting environment[edit]

position of wreck on the shore
Profile of stranded wreck with surrounding oil booms[120]

Authorities have banned all private boats from Giglio Porto and have excluded them from a one-nautical-mile (1,852 m) non-navigation zone around the ship.[100]

Poor weather conditions could have caused a spill of oil from the ship.[121] A floating oil barrier was put in place as a precaution.[122] High winds on 1 February lifted the protective barrier, allowing into the surrounding waters an oily film that began spreading from the stern of the ship.[123] The protective boom was redesigned for the weather conditions.[124] On 7 February, Civil Protection director Franco Gabrielli told the Italian Senate that the waters are not crystal-clear but are "within the legal limits."[125] Environment Minister Corrado Clini told the Parliament of Italy that the amount of diesel fuel and lubricating oil on board Costa Concordia was about the cargo of a small oil tanker.[126] Clini said any oil leakage would be highly toxic for plant and animal life.

Isola del Giglio lies within the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals,[127] one of the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance. It is a popular scuba diving destination, with tourism being its leading industry. Island residents are concerned that the wreck would be an eyesore that turns away tourists, disabling the island's economy.[128] One resident explained, "Environmental damage is what concerns us most. If the oil pollutes the coast, we're ruined." Luigi Alcaro, head of maritime emergencies for Italy's Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), an agency of the Ministry of the Environment, stated that in a worst case, "[W]e could be talking years and dozens of millions of euros".[126] EMSA-contracted Stand-by Oil Spill Response Vessel Salina Bay arrived at the site of Costa Concordia on 28 January and will remain on station as a precautionary measure during the salvage.[129] ISPRA's Oceanographic Ship Astrea arrived in Tuscany on 29 January to conduct environmental investigations.[130] On 9 February, the CEO of Costa Cruises told residents of Giglio the company would have by mid-March the plan to remove the ship. He also promised to minimise harm to their tourism businesses.[131]

The stability and deformation of the ship are being monitored by satellite imagery and surface-based instruments.[132] Although the ship is not in "immediate risk" of slipping from its grounded position into deeper water, Environment Minister Clini told the Italian Senate on 8 February that "the risk for a collapse is quite real... The more time passes, the weaker the hull becomes. We cannot guarantee that it has not been compromised already."[133] On 29 January, scientists had become "very concerned" that the ship had moved 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) over six hours that day.[134] On 2 February, the ship shifted 8 centimetres (3 in) during seven hours.[135] Shifts and any high winds and high seas caused suspension of recovery and salvage operations.[134][136] On 16 February, Civil Protection director Gabrielli "confirmed that the data registered is absent of anomalies." Another report based on sonar and laser measurements, and an ISPRA underwater video,[127] indicated that the ship might collapse in its midsection because its weight was not supported between the rock spur supporting the bow and the rock spur supporting the stern, and said at the time, both of those rocks "have now started crumbling dramatically". Civil Protection director Gabrielli stated that report is reassuring in that "It shows that a part of the seabed has got into the hull, basically increasing the ship'[s] stability."[137] It was also found out that the hull was slowly collapsing under its own weight, making salvage more difficult and expensive.[138]

Salvage[edit]

All operations planned for the wreck, including defuelling, were conducted jointly by Costa Cruises and the Concordia Emergency Commissioner's Office.[139] On 12 February 2012,[140] after weeks of weather delays,[121][141][142][143] Dutch salvage firm Smit Internationale, acting jointly with Italian company NERI SpA,[144] started removing the vessel's 2,380 tonnes of heavy fuel oil.[126] The 15 tanks that contained about 84% of the fuel in the vessel were emptied first.[141] As of 20 February 2012, the tanks in the fore of the ship, which had held about two-thirds of the fuel, had been emptied.[145] On 21 February, defuelling was suspended because of poor weather conditions.[146]

On 3 March 2012, salvage workers cut a hole in the ship for access to the engine room, the location of the remaining fuel.[147] On the morning of 12 March, defuelling operations resumed.[148] The offloading process required fixing valves on the underwater fuel tanks, one on top, one on bottom. Hoses were then attached to the valves and as the oil, warmed to make it less viscous, was sucked out of the upper hose, sea water was pumped in to fill the space through the lower hose.[141][149] The process used is called "hot-tapping", "pumping the fuel out into a nearby ship and replacing it with water so as not to affect the ship's balance".[150] The first part of the operation to empty the 15 tanks was expected to take about 28 days.[131] The second phase involved the engine room, which had "nearly 350 cubic metres of diesel, fuel and other lubricants".[100] The defuelling operation was completed on 24 March.[151][152]

Removal and clean-up plan

The operation (from June 2013 onwards) was delineated by Costa's Cristiano De Musso, Head of Corporate Communications, according to the following plan:[153]

  • Site inspections of the ship and its position;
  • Securing of the wreck to ensure on-going safety and stability;
  • Installation of sponsons on port side of vessel and construction of submarine platforms;
  • Parbuckling of the wreck, rotating it past a critical angle of about 24° from its resting position, beyond which the sponsons would be flooded and the ship would roll into a fully upright position on the underwater platforms;
  • Installation of sponsons on the starboard side of the ship;
  • Sponsons are dewatered to raise the ship from the bottom;
  • Ship delivered to an Italian port for processing according to regulations;
  • Cleaning and replanting of marine flora.

With defuelling complete, removal of the wreck began.[100] On 3 February, Franco Gabrielli, the head of the Civil Protection Authority, told a meeting of residents of Giglio that the ship "will be refloated and removed whole" and not cut up for scrap on site. Costa invited ten firms to bid for the contract to salvage the ship.[154] Proposed removal plans were assessed jointly with the Civil Protection Scientific Committee.[139] Six bids were submitted in early March.[155] As of 12 April 2012, Costa had two consortia in mind: (1) Smit and NERI (2) Titan Salvage and Micoperi. The salvage operation was expected to commence in the middle of May.[156] Earlier, the CEO of Costa had stated that after the breaches in the hull were sealed,[157] the ship could be refloated, with difficulty, by giant inflatable buoys and then tugged away.[158][159] The recovery is the largest ever ventured.[160] The salvage was predicted to take from seven to ten months, depending on weather and sea conditions.[136]

On 23 February 2012, the Environment Ministry announced it would be "taking legal action" against Costa Cruises regarding a "possible" claim for "possible environmental damage" and the cost of salvage.[161]

On 21 April 2012, it was announced that Florida-based marine salvage and wreck removal company Titan salvage,[162] with its partner company Micoperi, an Italian firm specialising in undersea engineering solutions,[163] had been awarded the contract by Costa Crociere to refloat and tow away Costa Concordia to a port on the Italian mainland.[164] The salvage operation used the port of Civitavecchia as its base. It was anticipated to begin in early May, take about 12 months[165][166] and cost $300 million.[167] Once in port, it will be dismantled and the materials sold as scrap.[168] The operation is being led by South African freelance salvage master Nick Sloane.[169][170]

Preparatory work consisted of building an underwater metal platform and artificial seabed made of sand and cement on the downhill side of the wreck and welding sponsons to the side of the ship above the surface.[171] Once this was completed, the ship was pulled upright by cables over the course of two days and settled on the platform, a method called parbuckling.[171] Additional sponsons will be attached to the other side of the ship; both sets will then be flushed of water and their buoyancy will refloat the ship to allow her to be towed to Sicily, where she will be scrapped.[171]

In June 2012, the barge was put in place, and the removal of her radar, waterslide and funnel began before stabilisation of the ship to prevent further slippage down the sloped seabed.[164] Concordia's funnel was cut off in December, and the salvage companies were in the process of building the underwater support structure by mid-January 2013.[171] On 16 September 2013, the parbuckling of the ship began.[10]

The operation to right the ship and free it from the rocks began on 16 September 2013, but started late due to bad weather.[11] Once the ship had been rotated slightly past a critical angle of 24° from its resting position, valves on the sponsons were opened to allow seawater to flood into them and the increasing weight of the water in the sponsons completed the rolling of the ship to the upright position at an accelerated pace, without further need of the strand jacks and cables.[172] The ship was returned to a fully upright position in the early hours of 17 September 2013, shortly before 3 a.m. CET. As of 16 September 2013 (2013-09-16) the salvage operation has cost over €600 million ($800 million).[173]

After the successful righting, the ship will stay on a platform while further inspections are made and the starboard sponsons are attached. It will then will be re-floated and towed to an Italian port to be scrapped, probably in 2014.[174][175][176][177] On 10 October, Dockwise was awarded the removal of Costa Concordia using the largest semi-submersible heavy lift vessel in the world, Dockwise Vanguard.[178]

(1) Funnel is removed and a submerged platform is built to support the ship. Steel sponsons are attached to the port side and partially filled with water. (2) Cables roll the ship upright, helped by the sponsons. (3) Sponsons attached to the starboard side. (4) Water pumped out of sponsons to lift the ship so it can be towed away.[179]

1) Left: The strand jacks (used to pull the cables) mounted on the tops of the retaining turrets. Right: port side sponsons.

Loss and compensation[edit]

Passengers and personnel[edit]

Casualties[3][180][181]
NationalityFatalitiesMissing
German
12
Italian
7
French
6
Peruvian
2
American
2
Hungarian
1
Indian
1
Spanish
1
Total
31
1

By nationality, the passengers included: 989 Italians, 569 Germans, 462 French, 177 Spanish,[182] 126–129 Americans,[182] 127 Croats, and 108 Russians. The remaining 520 passengers included: 74 Austrians, 69 Swiss,[182] 47 Brazilians,[183] 45 Ukrainians,[184] and 42 Dutch;[185] 34 were Koreans,[186] 26 were Chinese citizens of Hong Kong, 25 British citizens, 21 Australians,[187] 17–18 Argentines, 13 Taiwanese, 12 Canadians,[188] 12 Chinese citizens of the mainland, 12 Poles, 11 Hungarians, 11 Portuguese, 11 Dominicans,[189] 10 Romanians,[190] 10 Colombians, 10 Chileans, 9 Turks,[182] 8 Bulgarians, 8 Peruvians,[191] 6 Belgians,[192] 5 Swedes,[193] 4 Israelis, 4 Danes,[194] 3 Macedonians,[195] 2 South Africans, 2 Paraguayans, 2 Finns,[196] 1 Indian,[69] 1 Lithuanian and 1 New Zealander.[197] There were undetermined numbers of passengers from Mexico[198] and the Republic of Ireland.[199]

The nationalities of all crew aboard have not been enumerated, but it consisted of citizens of 20 to 40 countries.[68] Some are Italians (including the captain and all the officers),[200][201] but 202 Indians and 296 Filipinos made up approximately half of the personnel.[68][69][202] Other nationalities include 170 Indonesians,[203] 12 British nationals,[204] 6 Brazilians,[183][205] 3 Russians,[206] and an unspecified number of Colombian, Peruvian, Spanish, Honduran and Chinese.[68][200][207] 31 people are known to have died,[3][208] and 64 others were injured. Three people (two passengers and one crewman) trapped inside the ship were rescued more than 24 hours after the accident.[209] One missing person, Indian crew member Russel Rebello, is still unaccounted for and presumed dead.[3][112][115][208] A claim of a resulting miscarriage[210] has been denied by Costa Cruises as a "scam".[139][211]

On 27 January, Costa posted on its website the compensation package offered to uninjured passengers. The compensation comprises a payment of €11,000 per person to compensate for all damages (including loss of baggage and property, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of the cruise) and reimbursement for a range of other costs and losses, including reimbursement for the value of the cruise, for all air and bus travel costs included in the cruise package, for all travel expenses to return home, for all medical expenses arising from the event, and for all expenses incurred on board during the cruise.[p 6]

Costa also promised return of all property stored in cabin safes, to the extent recoverable, and to grant passengers access to a programme for "psychological assistance". Costa stated that it would not set off from these payments any amount an insurance policy pays to the passenger. The offer to uninjured passengers was effective until 31 March; as to the families of the dead and missing, separate proposals were to be offered "based on their individual circumstances."[212] Costa for a time permitted its customers to cancel without penalty certain future cruises.[139] One-third of the passengers have acquiesced to the €11,000 compensation.[146] The trade union representing the crew has negotiated compensation packages. Crew members will be paid wages for a minimum of two months or, if longer, their full contract term. They are also to receive reimbursement for expenses and up to £2,250 for lost personal property.[213]

As well as compensation, survivors of the Concordia disaster have called for safety improvements to be made. From the evidence available, including expert evidence obtained during the criminal proceedings in Italy, it is clear that the initial grounding of Costa Concordia should have been avoided and that subsequent failings in carrying out the evacuation process made a very bad situation far worse.[214]

Ship[edit]

Industry experts believe the ship is a constructive total loss, with damages of at least US$500 million.[215] Pier Luigi Foschi, CEO of Costa, has told a Senate committee hearing that "We believe that the wreck can no longer be put in use."[216] Shares in the Carnival Corporation, the American company that jointly with Carnival plc owns Costa Cruises, initially fell by 18% on 16 January 2012 following a statement by the group that the sinking of the ship could cost Carnival Corporation up to US$95 million (€75 million, £62 million). Carnival Corporation later increased the estimated financial impact in fiscal year 2012 to include a reduction in net income of $85 million to $95 million, an estimated insurance deductible of an additional $40 million, and $30–40 million in "other incident related costs".[217]

The insurance excess on the vessel was $30 million (€23.5 million, £19.5 million).[218] The group of cruise lines jointly owned by Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc comprises 49 percent of the worldwide cruise ship industry[219] and owns 101 ships, of which Costa Concordia represents 1.5% of capacity.[220] Booking volume for Carnival's fleet, excluding Costa, in the 12 post-accident days was down by "the mid-teens" as a percentage of year-earlier bookings.[221]

Investigations[edit]

The Italian Marine Casualty Investigation Central Board (MCICB Commissione centrale di indagine sui sinistri marittimi, CCISM),[222][223] a unit of the Corps of the Port Captaincies – Coast Guard, conducts the technical investigations of maritime accidents and incidents within Italian-controlled waters.[224] On 2 February 2012 the prosecutor's office in Paris, France, opened a preliminary inquiry to question survivors to establish any criminal liability and "assess psychological damage".[225] On 6 February, the International Chamber of Shipping, a consortium of national shipping agencies, called for the "earliest possible publication of the Italian accident investigations."[226] Judge Valeria Montesarchio summoned survivors to testify at a hearing to be convened on 3 March in Grosseto.[133] The European Maritime Safety Agency is the EU agency tasked to develop a common methodology for investigating maritime accidents.

International experts have said that it is too early to speculate on why the vessel capsized despite its watertight compartments but that the size of the vessel is unlikely to have been an issue.[227][228] Tuscany's prosecutor general has said that the investigation will seek to find causes for various aspects of the event, and beyond Captain Schettino to other persons and companies.[27]

The captain tested negative for drug and alcohol use, but one group that is suing Costa Cruises and that leaked the test results, disputed the tests as unreliable.[229]

On 24 February 2012, prosecutors alleged that Schettino "slowed down the ship so that he could finish dinner in peace" and to compensate for lost time, subsequently increased the speed to 16 knots (30 km/h) just before the sail-past.[230]

By January 2013 the technical investigation report had not yet been released. Lloyd's List said that the casualty investigation board "roundly" received criticism for not having released the investigation yet.[222] The board said that the investigation was delayed because the Italian prosecuting team had seized important information, including the voyage recorder.[222]

Criminal proceedings against officers[edit]

Captain Schettino (born 1960 in Meta, Naples), who had worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years,[200] and First Officer Ciro Ambrosio were arrested.[52][71] The captain was detained on suspicion of manslaughter and for violations of the Italian Penal Code and Code of Navigation on three specifications: of his having caused the shipwreck "owing to ... imprudence, negligence and incompetence" resulting in deaths; having abandoned about 300 people "unable to fend for themselves"; and "not having been the last to leave" a shipwreck.[4][231] They were questioned on 14 January.[232]

At the validation hearing of 17 January 2012, the Court of Grosseto charged Schettino and Ambrosio with the results from the records of investigation compiled immediately after the event, including the first report of the Coastguard of Porto Santo Stefano of 14 January 2012, the summary testimonial information given by the members of the ship's crew, the chronology of events of the Harbour Office of the Port of Livorno, the AIS recording on record, and the PG Annotation of the Harbour Office of the Port of Livorno.[4] Schettino was released from jail on 17 January but was placed under house arrest.[84] The house arrest order included an "absolute prohibition against going away or communicating by any means with persons other than his cohabitants."[4] On 7 February, the Court decided to continue Schettino's house arrest.[233] On 23 February, two additional charges, of "abandoning incapacitated passengers and failing to inform maritime authorities" were levied against Captain Schettino.[7] His pretrial hearing was scheduled for 20 March.[36] On 5 July 2012, Schettino was released from house arrest but mandated to reside in Meta di Sorrento.[234][235]

Officials were initially trying to determine why the ship did not issue a mayday and why it was navigating so close to the coast. The delay in the evacuation request was also unexplained.[236]

On 11 February, TG5 broadcast a video of the commotion on the bridge following the collision. In the video, when one officer said, "Passengers are getting into the life boats", Schettino responded "vabbuò" (a Neapolitan colloquialism which stands for "anyway", "well" or, literally, "it is ok"). The magistrate in charge of the inquiry remarked, "This is new to us—I've just seen it for the first time."[237]

On 19 February, the Associated Press reported that traces of cocaine had been found on Schettino's hair samples "but not within the hair strands or in his urine—which would have indicated he had used the drug".[238]

On 22 February 2012, four officers who were on board and three managers of Costa Cruises were placed formally "under investigation" and "face charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and failing to communicate with maritime authorities".[239][240]

Recorded evidence[edit]

One of the ship's voyage data recorders (VDRs), which was designed to float, was recovered. Another containing different data was located on 17 January.[241] A third is in a submerged part of the ship difficult to reach.[242] On 19 January 2012, all the data storage devices from the ship's control panel, including hard disks, were recovered.[243] One of the hard disks contained videos from cameras located near the control board, which are expected to reveal the movements of the ship's captain and officers.[61] The chief prosecutor received from the Guardia di Finanza a video, taken from their patrol boat, that filmed the ship between 22:30 and 23:10 or at 23:20.[61]

On 3 March 2012, in Grosseto, judges began a hearing open to all survivors, other "injured parties", and their lawyers but closed to the general public and media. Four specialists were ordered to review the VDR data and relate their conclusions at a 21 July 2012 hearing.[147] Prosecutor Francesco Verusio had stated that it could take "a month, two months, three months" for evidence analysis, including of recorded conversations on the bridge, to be completed.[244] The hearing also determined who could "attach lawsuits to the case". Inhabitants of Giglio and some environmental groups were denied this ability.[147]

Trial[edit]

On 20 July 2013, five people were found guilty of manslaughter, negligence and shipwreck: Roberto Ferrarini (the company's crisis director) received the longest sentence at two years 10 months, followed by Manrico Giampedroni (the cabin service director) at two and a half years. Three crew members – first officer Ciro Ambrosio, helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin and third officer Silvia Coronica – were given sentences between one and two years. Ferrarini, who was not on the ship, was convicted of minimising the extent of the disaster and delaying an adequate response.[245] Giampedroni, the hotel director, was convicted for his role in the evacuation, which was described as chaotic.[245] The helmsman Bin was convicted for steering the ship in the wrong direction after Schettino ordered a corrective manoeuvre.[245] Reuters cited judicial sources as saying none of these individuals are likely to go to jail as sentences less than two years for non-violent offences are routinely suspended in Italy, and longer sentences may be appealed or replaced by community service.[246]

Lawyers for the victims decried the sentences as shameful and said they might appeal to overturn the plea bargains that allowed reduced sentences in return for guilty pleas. The company Costa Cruises avoided a trial in April by agreeing to a €1 million fine but victims are pursuing damages in a civil case.[247]

In a separate trial for manslaughter and causing the loss of the ship, Captain Francesco Schettino has been seeking a plea bargain agreement.[247] However when his trial resumed in October 2013, the Moldavian dancer Domnica Cemortan, 26, admitted being his lover and being on the ship without a ticket, after the prosecution alleged that her presence on the bridge “generated confusion and distraction for the captain”.[248]

Reactions[edit]

Costa Cruises and its parent companies[edit]

Costa Crociere S.p.A. also does business using the name "Costa Cruises". Costa Cruises is jointly owned by a dual-listed company comprising the two separate companies Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc.[249] Carnival Corporation announced on 30 January 2012 that its board of directors will engage outside consultants in various disciplines, including emergency response, organisation, training and implementation, to conduct a comprehensive review of the accident and the company's procedures.[250]

Costa Cruises at first offered to pay Captain Schettino's legal costs but decided later that it would not do so.[58]

Regulatory and industry response[edit]

Corrado Clini, Italy's Minister of Environment, said that saluting, a "custom that has resulted in an outcome visible to all", should no longer be tolerated.[251] On 23 January 2012, UNESCO asked Italy to reroute cruise ships to avoid sailing too close to "culturally and ecologically important areas",[98] and on 1 March, Italy excluded large ships from sailing closer than two miles from marine parks.[252]

The European Maritime Safety Agency was in the process of conducting a review of maritime safety when the accident occurred. On 24 January 2012, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told the Transportation Committee of the European Parliament that lessons learned from the loss of Costa Concordia would be taken into account. British MEP Jacqueline Foster warned against "trial by television and trial by newspapers", a view that was backed by fellow British MEP Brian Simpson, who said that it was "good practice to wait for the official report".[253]

On 18 January 2012, the Chairman of the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure announced that it would hold a hearing, conducted jointly with the Committee's Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, to "review the events of this specific incident, current safety measures and training requirements".[254] Testimony and statements at 29 February hearing primarily promoted North American cruise ships as being safe.[255]

Gianni Scerni, the chairman of Registro Italiano Navale (RINA), the classification society that issued Costa Concordia a certificate of seaworthiness and safety management in November 2011, resigned on 18 January 2012.[256][257]

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the European Cruise Council (ECC) and the Passenger Shipping Association adopted a new policy requiring all embarking passengers to participate in muster drills before departure.[258][259] On 29 January 2012, at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Holland America Line made one passenger disembark from the cruise ship MS Westerdam for "non-compliance" during a mandatory muster drill.[260] On 24 April, the CLIA and the ECC introduced new policies: bridge officers must agree on the route before departing; ships must carry more lifejackets; and access to the bridge must be limited.[261]

In an action some parliamentarians said was a reaction to the wrecking of Costa Concordia, the Italian government withdrew proposed legislation that would have reduced current restrictions on mineral exploration and production.[262] On 8 July 2012, CNN reported that the disaster brought changes to safety and evacuation procedures in the cruise industry. Carnival, the parent line of Costa, and several other cruise lines now require safety instruction, referred to as muster drills, before leaving port. The new muster policy consists of 12 specific emergency instructions, which include providing information on when and how to don a life jacket, where to muster and what to expect if there is an evacuation of the ship.[263]

Media[edit]

Coverage of the shipwreck dominated international media in the days after the disaster. The New York Times called the incident "a drama that seemed to blend tragedy with elements of farce".[264] Phillip Knightley called it the "most significant event in modern maritime history" because "every single safety procedure designed to make sea travel safe failed miserably".[265]

UK's Channel 4 television commissioned and broadcast two programmes about the disaster. Terror at Sea: The Sinking of the Costa Concordia, broadcast on 31 January 2012, explored how and why the ship went down.[266] The Sinking of the Concordia: Caught on Camera, broadcast on 11 April 2012, provided a minute-by-minute anatomy of the Costa Concordia disaster, made almost entirely from passengers' mobile phone and video camera footage. The documentary also featured thermal imaging footage of the stricken ship taken by the rescue helicopter, together with pilot commentary, and a recording of the conversation between the Coast Guard and the captain, during which the Coast Guard ordered Captain Schettino to return to his ship.[267]

In Italy[edit]

Corriere della Sera stated that Italy owed the world a "convincing explanation" for the wreck and called for harsh punishment of those found responsible. Il Giornale said the wreck was a "global disaster for Italy". Il Messaggero said there was "anguish over those still missing". La Repubblica called the event "a night of errors and lies". La Stampa criticised the captain for not raising the alarm and refusing to go back on board the ship.[268]

Italian commentators reflected on the contrast between Schettino and De Falco and what it said about the national character. They represented "the two souls of Italy", according to Aldo Grasso in Corriere della Sera. "On the one hand a man hopelessly lost, a coward who shirks his responsibility as a man and an officer, indelibly stained. The other grasps the seriousness of the situation immediately and tries to remind the first of his obligations."[269]

Some saw parallels between the incident and the country's recent political upheavals. "To see someone that in a moment of difficulty maintains steady nerves is consoling because that is what we need", another Corriere della Sera columnist, Beppe Severgnini, told The New York Times. "Italy wants to have steady nerves because we've already done the cabaret route."[270]

De Falco's exasperated order to Schettino, "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" became a catchphrase in Italy. T-shirts with the phrase were soon printed and sold across the country.[271] It has also been used on Twitter and Facebook.[271]

Honours and memorial[edit]

In September 2012, Lloyd's of London awarded the title of Seafarers of the Year recognising the best professional sailing and ship to the Costa Concordia crew for their exemplary behaviour during the shipwreck which has saved most of the ship's passengers.[272] In January 2013, the municipalities of Isola del Giglio and Monte Argentario have been decorated with the highest Italian Civil award: the Gold Medal of Civil Merit granted by the President of the Republic for the commitment of citizens, administrators and local institutions in the rescue of the survivors of the ship Costa Concordia.[273]

The mayor of Giglio, Sergio Ortelli, and Costa Cruises are in agreement that the large boulder to be removed from the side of the vessel should be suitably positioned on the island as a memorial to the 32 people who lost their lives. Ortelli anticipates the boulder will "most likely" be positioned "close to the harbour entrance so that visitors and locals can see it clearly and pay their respects to the victims. What happened that night is something Giglio will never forget and the rock will be a fitting memorial." The cost of removing the 80-ton boulder is estimated at £40,000.[274][275][276][277]

On 13 January 2013, a rock was cast into the sea at the site of the disaster with a plaque to commemorate those lost.[278]

Safety regulations[edit]

Like all passenger ships, Costa Concordia was subject to two major International Maritime Organization requirements: to perform "musters of the passengers (...) within 24 hours after their embarkation" and to be able to launch "survival craft" sufficient for "the total number of persons aboard ... within a period of 30 minutes from the time the abandon-ship signal is given".[279] Passenger ships must be equipped with lifeboats for 125% of the ship's passenger and crew maximum capacity, among which at least 37% of that capacity must consist of hard lifeboats as opposed to inflatable ones.[280] Launching systems must enable the lowering of the lifeboats under 20° of list and 10° of pitch.[280]

According to Costa Cruises, its internal regulations require all crew members to complete Basic Safety Training, and to perform a ship evacuation drill every two weeks.[280] Every week, all the lifeboats on one side of the ship are launched for a test.[281] Under the regulations in force in 2006 when Costa Concordia was delivered, the ship had to be designed to survive the flooding of two adjacent compartments caused by an 11-metre (36 ft) breach.[280] The damage caused by impact with the rocks left a 50-metre tear (164 ft) in the hull.

Timeline of wrecking[edit]

List of Costa Concordia from collision at 20:45 until complete rest at 3:00 am. Shift from port to starboard list takes place around the time of the u-turn.

Below is a timeline of the wrecking, 13–14 January 2012 (UTC+1).[30]

  • 21:12 Ship deviates from planned route[55]
  • 21:42 or 21:45: Collision at Le Scole reef
  • 22:06: Harbour Master phoned by passenger's daughter, saying life jackets were ordered
  • 22:14: Harbour Master radios ship; is told that all is well except for an electrical blackout that will be repaired
  • 22:26: Harbour Master is told that the ship is taking on water and listing; no dead or injured; requested a tugboat
  • 22:34: Harbour Master is told that ship is in distress
  • 22:39: Patrol boat reports the ship is listing heavily
  • 22:44: Coast Guard reports the ship is grounded
  • 22:45: Captain denies grounding, says ship still floating and will be brought around
  • 22:58: Captain reports that he ordered evacuation
  • 23:23: Ship reports large starboard hull breach
  • 23:37: Captain reports 300 people on board
  • 00:12: Coast Guard patrol boat reports that port side lifeboats cannot be launched
  • 00:34: Captain says he is in a lifeboat and sees 3 people in water
  • 00:36: Coast Guard patrol reports 70–80 people on board including children and elderly
  • 00:42: Captain and his officers are in lifeboat; Harbour Master orders them to return
  • 01:04: Helicopter lowers Air Force officer aboard, who reports 100 people remain
  • 03:05: Evacuation ferry returns to Porto Santo Stefano with 5 injured and 3 dead
  • 03:17: Police identify captain on quay
  • 03:44: Air Force reports 40–50 remain to evacuate
  • 04:22: 30 reported remaining to be evacuated
  • 04:46: Evacuation concluded

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Costa Concordia" is pronounced [ˈkɔsta koŋˈkɔrdja]
  2. ^ "Giglio" is pronounced [ˈdʒiʎʎo].
  3. ^ "Schettino" is pronounced [sketˈtiːno].
  4. ^ In August 2011, Giglio Porto's mayor, Sergio Ortelli, had thanked Captain Schettino for the "incredible spectacle" of a sail-past. Mayor Ortelli has now said, "It's a very nice show to see, the ship all lit up when you see it from the land. This time round it went wrong".[45] In August and September 2010, Costa Pacifica and Costa Allegra, sister ships of Costa Concordia, came within a mile of the island.[46]
  5. ^ Costa Cruises CEO Pier Luigi Foschi explained that the company's ships have computer-programmed routes and "alarms, both visual and sound, if the ship deviates by any reason from the stated route as stored in the computer and as controlled by the GPS", but that these alarms could be "manually" over-ridden.[48]
  6. ^ After certain emergency disembarkations and other events, the cruise ship operator is required to compensate passengers €10,000 each.[29]

References[edit]

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  38. ^ a b "'La nave ha urtato uno scoglio' Il comandante: 'Non era sulla carta'" (in Italian). La Repubblica. 14 January 2012. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
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  49. ^ Giorgio Scura (11 July 2012). "Schettino su Canale 5: "Anche io sono una vittima"". Leggo (in Italian). Retrieved 11 July 2012.  (Italian)[dead link]
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External links[edit]

A brief "Sixty Minutes Overtime" blurb or "Correspondent Candids", of 3:29 in length is also available at:

Coordinates: 42°21′55″N 10°55′17″E / 42.365347°N 10.921400°E / 42.365347; 10.921400