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Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia Review and Specifications

Specifications of Costa Concordia

Year built2006  /  Age : 13
BuilderFincantieri (Sestri Ponente, Italy)
ClassConcordia
Building costEUR 450 million (USD 570 million / GBP 372 million)
OwnerCarnival Corporation & PLC
OperatorCosta Cruises
Speed23 kn / 43 kph / 26 mph
Length (LOA)290 m / 951 ft
Beam (width)36 m / 118 ft
Gross Tonnage114147 gt
Passengers3002 - 3765
Crew1100
Passengers-to-space ratio31
Decks13
Cabins1501
Decks with cabins8
Last Refurbishmentscrapped in 2015
Sister-shipsCosta Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa, Costa Fascinosa, Carnival Splendor
Christened byEva Herzigova

Review of Costa Concordia

The 2006-built cruise ship Costa Concordia was a Carnival Corporation-owned Concordia-Class passenger liner identified by IMO number 9320544, MMSI number 9320544 (Italy-flagged) and CallSign IBHD. The vessel was designed and constructed in Italy and by one of world's largest shipbuilding companies - Fincantieri - at its Sestri Ponente Shipyard (near Genova/Genoa). The ship operator was Costa Cruises (one of Carnival Corporation's subsidiaries and its 2nd-largest brand by fleet and annual passenger traffic).

Costa Concordia cruise ship

Concordia was the first of all five Concordia-class liners operated by Costa Cruises - together with the sisterships and fleetmates Serena (2007), Pacifica (2009), Favolosa (2011) and Fascinosa (2012), plus the Carnival Cruise Line's vessel Carnival Splendor (2008). This large-sized (115,000 GT tons) and beautifully designed vessel was wrecked off Giglio Island (Italy) on January 13, 2012. The accident was caused by a human error that resulted in a collision/allision with an underwater rock. Hours later, the vessel capsized and in the following year was declared a total loss (not usable). In July 2014, the wreck was towed to Port Genoa for dismantling. The vessel's 3,5-years salvage operation turned out to be the most expensive and the riskiest ever conducted.

Costa Concordia cruise ship

This page is mainly a review on the ship's salvage operation and the accident's impact on the shipowner and the cruising industry in general. Here you can compare facts related to this ranked "worst cruise ship sinking disaster ever", learn all about the vessel's salvage plan and the wreckage removal operation procedures. For details on ship's collision and sinking read its CruiseMinus accident report. For your convenience, follows a navigation menu with shortcuts jumping down directly to salvage plan, removal operation and procedures, wreckage removal progress, Captain's wiki.

Costa Concordia - CruiseMinus

After reading all these details, you will understand why Concordia's sinking was declared the most "stupidly unique" passenger ship disaster of all times. The liner sank on the evening of January 13 (2012) - Friday 13th (this combination again) off the Tuscan West Coast of Italy near Giglio Island. The vessel's sinking was a true disaster - both as lost lives and financial losses. It subsequently became a major cruise ship safety issue.

Next is Concordia's 3D animation video showing the exact sequence of events ending with the ship's sinking.

Costa Concordia salvage

On January 26, 2012, started the fuel-pumping preparations. Workers of the contractor SMIT International (a Dutch shipwreck salvage firm) hitched to the toppled vessel a craned barge and other equipment. Then started underwater inspections for the precise locations of all the 17 fuel-tanks of the ship. These tanks had nearly 2 million liters of heavy diesel fuel. Experts identified the initial 6 fuel tanks (containing more than 50% of all fuel) to be worked on. The procedure took 4 weeks and generally consisted of drilling into the tanks and attaching valves onto them. Then the sludge-like oil was heated, hoses were attached to the valves. They vacuumed out the oil as seawater was pumped into to displace it.

The fuel extraction started on February 11, 2012. The position of the half-submerged cruise vessel offered some relief. It was on the coast side of Giglio, thus relatively sheltered from heavy seas. After pumping the fuel out, the next step was to upright the vessel, and when afloat to tow it away. The fuel-pumping job was completed successfully on March 25, 2012.

On February 3, 2013, was decided that the ill-fated ship will not be cut in pieces on the site but refloated and removed whole. The words of Costa Crociere's CEO (Pier Luigi Foschi) on the subject were "We believe that the wreck can no longer be put in use". The removal operation itself was a world's record - the largest ever ventured.

Costa Concordia shipwreck salvage

Concordia ship's salvage was expected to take 12 months. Seven of the world's best marine salvage companies were bidding for the contract. Those were the US-based Donjohn Marine, Titan Salvage, Resolve Marine Group and T&T Marine Salvage, also Mammoet Salvage (Holland), Svitzer (Denmark) and Tito Neri (Italy). By the deadline, 6 working salvage plans were received. By the end of April 2012, Titan Salvage (now Ardent) (a company based in Pompano Beach, Florida USA) won the bid. The Italian "Micoperi" (an engineering firm) was contracted as the Titan's local partner.

Salvage procedures involved sealing up all the holes in the hull (including the huge gash). All sections of the ship were sealed off into airtight compartments. Air was pumped into the compartments to give the ship buoyancy. Then cranes and huge pontoons were brought in to straighten the wreckage and tow it away to Port Genoa.

Costa Concordia shipwreck capsized

The estimated total cost (of all salvage operations) was expected to be ~USD 300 million (EUR 225 million) or about 1/2 of the vessel's building cost. In September 2013 was announced that the estimated cost for the cruise ship's removal reached EUR 600 million (~USD 800 million).

Salvage plan - the wreckage removal operation's procedures

A dynamic, complex, unique project, Concordia's salvage plan included the following steps:

  1. (Anchoring and stabilization). 4 submarine anchor blocks were fixed to the seabed between the wreck's center and the coast. 12 retaining turrets were installed for use during the uprighting (parbuckling). Strandjacks mounted on the tops of the turrets were attached to a total of 24 chains (2 per turret) passing under the hull (fixed to the port side). This is a hold-back system used for balancing during the rotation (uprighting).
  2. (Submarine supports and portside caissons, installing a false bottom for the ship to rest after rotation). Grout bags were positioned and filled with a special eco-friendly cement to fill the empty space between the 2 rocks, the stern area and the hull's bow, thus creating a stable base for the hull. After positioning the bags, a total of 6 platforms (3 huge and 3 smaller ones, on which the wreck will rest) were fixed into the granite ground by drilling a 2 m / 6,6 ft hole. No waste was dispersed in the sea, ever. This operation was performed by the UK's Frugo Seacore (offshore drilling company). After the false bottom was done, the Micoperi 30 huge crane installed 15 re-floating sponsons on the ship's left side. They were welded onto the wreck.
  3. (Parbuckling/rotation/uprighting) This was an extremely delicate procedure. It was done using strand jacks tightening all cables attached to the platforms and the caissons' tops. They were pulled seawards, while the starboard turrets cables were used for balancing. The main goal was to upright the vessel without deforming its hull.
  4. (Starboard caissons) 15 more re-floating sponsons were attached starboard side (landside), caissons to be used during the refloating phase.
  5. (Re-floating) - when the hull rested on the false bottom (at depth of ~ 100 ft / 30 m), the water from the caissons on both sides was gradually pumped out. However, even on completion, a big section of the ship (~ 60 ft / 18 m) remained submerged.
  6. (Ecosystem restoration) - the sea bottom was thoroughly cleaned. Marine flora was replanted.
  7. (Defueling, caretaking) right after the accident, a protection perimeter was established around the vessel using booms. On January 14, 2012, Costa contracted "Smit Salvage BV" together with the Italian "Tito Neri" to remove the oil from the ship as quickly and cleanly as possible. This was done by a team of ~100 experts (international) and a total of 20 marine vessels (including transport ships, tug boats, crane barges, tankers, etc). Defueling was completed on March 24, 2012. Followed a process of cleaning significant quantities of debris from the seabed and the whole area around the ship. Caretaking ops were performed by Titan and Micoperi personnel.

Jobs and money facts: at the Giglio's site there were ~500 workers (of 18 different nationalities), with active engineers and divers 24/7, plus ~30 diverse marine vessels. The salvage project's total estimated budget soared to ~USD 400 million.

Costa Concordia ship salvage plan The following YouTube video (Nat Geo documentary) explains all the details and procedures related to the ship's salvage.

Salvage operations progress (2013)

  • (April 5, milestone) the largest of all 5 underwater support platforms was positioned onto the seabed. "Platform No1", as they call it, provided secure support when the process of uprighting started. The weight of the platform was ~1000 tons (measuring 40x33 m or 131x108 ft, and 22 m / 72 ft tall). It was supported by 5 huge pillars (each 2 m / 6,5 ft in diameter). The enormous structure was lifted from a barge and positioned into place below the sunken ship by the heavy-lift marine vessel "Svenja" (owner/operator SAL Heavy Lift).
  • (April 10) Costa Crociere accepted a fine of USD 1,31 million (EUR 1 million). The fine was close to the max allowed by law and settled all "potential criminal charges" following the accident. While many survivors accepted the line's initial compensation offering of EUR 11,000 (~USD 14,000) per pax, plus the reimbursements, hundreds of the cruise passengers declined and pursued civil lawsuits against the line. According to an Italian class action lawyer (representing Italian passengers only), the negotiations reached EUR 27,000 per pax as a last offer from the company. However, he and his clients were aiming much higher - 1 million euros per passenger.
  • (April 15) In an Italian court begun hearings to determine whether the Concordia's Captain Schettino and 5 other ship officers faced trial for charges related to the cruise ship disaster. The infamous captain faced trial for charges of 1) multiple manslaughter, 2) causing a shipwreck by unauthorized and unapproved deviation from the course and 3) abandoning his ship before all passengers and crew were off. Manslaughter indictments were also requested for 4 other crew, including the ship's helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin (misunderstanding a direct command moments before the crash). The 6th with a possible indictment (manslaughter and delaying rescue, which is the main cause of loss of so many lives) was the chief of the line's crisis unit Roberto Ferrarini. There were 40 pre-trial hearings scheduled in the town of Grosetto through July. Survivors were allowed to attend all hearings.
  • (April 17) the 1st of the portside sponsons (p10) was installed.
  • (early-June 2013) the 2nd platform (weight ~1000 tons, dimensions 40x22 m / 131x72 ft) was installed. It was the 5th out of 6 platforms designed to secure safe support for the wreck after parbuckling (when the ship is rotated into a vertical position). During that time, there were 25 marine vessels and ~460 workers on the site.
  • (July 22) At the "Civil Protection" headquarters (Rome), representatives of Titan-Micoperi and Costa Cruises presented a report on the removal progress. Detailed technical documentation was provided to the "Observatory for Concordia Removal" for evaluation of the parbuckling (the wreck's vertical rotation) project.
  • (July 23) 4 Concordia crew and 1 Costa Cruises official were sentenced to prison for their part in the disaster. They received sentences between 18 to 34 months, just because they all pleaded guilty, thus avoiding a lengthy trial. The five sentences were: Roberto Ferrarini (director of the company's crisis unit - 2 years 10 months), Manrico Giampedroni (hotel service director - 2 years 6 months), with sentences from 1 year 8 months to 1 year 11 months are Ciro Ambrosio (1st officer), Jacob Rusli Bin (helmsman) and Silvia Coronica (3rd officer). Reuters reported Italian judicial sources commenting that none is likely to go to jail as in Italy sentences under 2 years are usually suspended, and longer sentences is possible to be appealed or replaced with community service. The ship's Captain was next - his trial was adjourned after he requested electrical tests to be conducted on the wreckage.
  • (September 17, 2013) the vessel's uprighting was accomplished. The ship was stable on its artificially made seabed. The so called "parbuckling" operation started on September 16th at ~9 am, and was completed in 20 hours. All 22 hydraulic pumps were used to raise the ship.
  • (October 10) - the "winterization" plan. Salvage workers started securing the shipwreck for the winter of 2013. Bad weather conditions required the following procedures: 1) The ship's bow was secured from moving via an additional stopping system. 2) An additional set of grout bags were installed between the ship and the island rocks. 3) The ship was connected by tube-shaped structures to all the 6 underwater platforms and was additionally attached to the sponsons tops. The sponsons were prepared in the Genoa and Livorno shipyards. The sponsons' positioning was scheduled for April 2014.
  • (December) The salvage operation's chief engineer Porcellacchia announced that the wreckage will be removed from the disaster site and towed away in June 2014.

Costa Concordia shipwreck salvage

Alternative wreckage removal (Boskalis-Dockwise Vanguard)

Initially, Costa contacted Boskalis for the removal of the Concordia wreckage. Dockwise is a Bermuda-based holding (a branch of Boskalis) specializing in marine transport, including "Oil and Gas" services. Royal Boskalis is a Netherlands-based marine company, and one of the world's leading providers of dredging services.

On October 10, 2013, Costa Crociere took a USD 30 million (~EUR 22 million) wreck removal option with Dockwise for using its heavy-lift marine vessel BOKA Vanguard. This was an alternative to the conventional towing.

Dockwise Vanguard (later renamed BOKA Vanguard) is a huge semi-submersible lift ship - currently ranked world's largest by DWT (deadweight tonnage). The ship is able to lift and carry heavyweight cargoes of up to 110,000 tons. It was initially designed to load and move offshore platforms (marine facilities) serving the oil and gas industry. This lift ship is also capable of carrying other ships (often several hulls stacked one over other) and also is used as an offshore dry-docking facility (read more in the wiki-section of Carnival Vista). Vanguard ship's specifications include:

  • DWT weight - 116173 tons
  • LOA length overall - 275 m (902 ft)
  • width - 79 m (259 ft)
  • combined power output - 27 MW (36208 HP)
  • speed (when unloaded) 26 kph / 16 mph
  • speed (when loaded) 24 kph / 15 mph)
  • operational crew - 40

Dockwise's wreckage removal operation phases included:

  1. The Vanguard ship's ballast tanks to be filled with seawater, causing it to partially sink/submerge.
  2. The Concordia shipwreck to be pulled over the Dockwise vessel.
  3. The Vanguard's ballast tanks to be emptied (water pumped out) thus lifting up and transporting the wreckage safely.

Costa Concordia ship removal by Dockwise Vanguard

The ship's last voyage (float-out and towing to Genoa)

The towing operation started on July 22, 2014. Concordia's last voyage ended in Genoa, on July 27. The dead cruise liner was accompanied by a fleet of 14 marine vessels, including two tugboats towing from the front. They both were attached to the ship by 70 mm / 2,8-inch chains. Group's leader was the Blizzard tug.

Costa Concordia shipwreck towing (final voyage)

The leading tugboats were towing the floating wreckage from a 700-800 m distance, at a fixed speed of 2,5 knots (4,6 kph / 3 mph). The vessel's last ever "crew" on board included salvage experts and some environmentalists from Greenpeace. The final voyage was from the accident site (Giglio Island) to the scrapping shipyard in Genoa. This was done in 4 days, covering a distance of ~280 km (170 mi). The ship had to be stripped of enough material to allow the passage over Port Genoa's (PSA Voltri Pra) breakwater - the vessel's final destination.

In Genoa, the wreckage was dismantled by "Ship Recycling Consortium" (Saipem Company and San Giorgio del Porto Shipyard). Around 70% of all the materials were fully recycled and sold as scrap.

Costa Concordia shipwreck scrapping (Genoa)

Probably the saddest cruise ship you will ever meet at sea was Concordia's wreckage in motion - for the last time, sailing to her grave. On July 27, 2014, the wrecked vessel entered Port Genoa. The 3-year operation was one of the world's biggest maritime salvage operations ever. Next step was the ship's dismantling, scrapping and recycling in accordance with Italy's Ministry of Environment prescriptions. This operation was expected to take ~22 months. The transfer of the vessel ownership (from Costa to Saipem) was signed on July 27, at 3:40 pm.

Was this so unbelievably stupid disaster really an accident? How about the plausible hypothesis of a stock market game, or an industry's global media publicity game? With this USD 2 billion "scrapping budget" you could do so much more to benefit the humankind, so much more for Nature itself. Yet, it's pretty small money if you want to introduce cruising to 5+ billion people worldwide - continuously, for a period of 2 years. Or what if the name of the game was buying out cheap Carnival stocks from the general shareholders? Still, it could be simply the accident that became a profitable business for the big players. Excepting, of course, the ship insurance companies.

Costa Concordia was a triple disaster. So many lives were lost. The cruise industry suffered bad publicity. And a bunch of money was wasted on an epic salvage - money that could've been spent on building a brand new vessel. This is also the worst cruise ship accident of all times simply because all that happened started with stupidity.

Costa Concordia wiki

The vessel (yard number 6122) was ordered by Carnival Corporation on January 19, 2004. It was launched on September 2, 2005, and delivered to Costa Cruises on June 30, 2006. Ship's Godmother was Eva Herzigova (1973-born luxury brand fashion model).

Costa Concordia ship construction

The "jinxed" cruise ship - facts to fiction

  • The disaster date was Friday 13th, and the year was 2012. Some noticed that RMS Titanic sank almost exactly 100 years ago - on April 14, 1912.
  • The ship's name was "Concordia". Some remembered the Concorde plane crash accident. On July 25, 2000, a total of 100 Peter Deilmann cruise passengers booked on the MS Deutschland ship died when the chartered Concorde aircraft crashed on takeoff from Paris France.
  • The inauspicious launch- the failure on the christening ceremony, when the ceremonial Champagne bottle failed to break on the bow of the new vessel on September 2, 2005.
  • On November 22, 2008, the Concordia ship was involved in a pier collision accident. The vessel hit the dock while maneuvering for berthing in Port Palermo (Sicily) and sustained bow-hull damages.

Costa Concordia ship capsized

On the shipwreck remained ~18,000 bottles of wine and ~6900 liters (~1820 US gallons) of ice cream, amongst all other food and beverage provisions stored onboard.

The money disaster

Among the most expensive big-sized liners (cost to build USD 570 million / US$149,000 per berth), Concordia also became "the biggest insured loss in maritime history" as the vessel was insured for USD 513 million (EUR 405 million). The list of its insurers included XL, RSA, Generali, Allianz. When the disaster happened, experts expected the insurance loss from the ship to be between USD 500 million and 1 billion.

Costa Concordia ship capsized

While these numbers were big enough, they could have grown even bigger if the over 2300 tons of diesel fuel on the ship had started to leak. In such a case, a substantial pollution liability claim would have been issued. This possibility was the sole reason Carnival stock prices to plummet by 18% on the London Stock Exchange.

Carnival Corporation officials expected Concordia's sinking to cost the company between USD 155-175 million (EUR 118-133 million), including insurance deductibles and loss of use. Because of the disaster, Carnival Cruise Lines (Corporation's largest brand company by fleet capacity) lowered its prices fleetwide just to keep up bookings. This additionally lowered its net revenue for FY2012 (fiscal year) and the earnings per share.

In 2015, Costa Crociere announced that the wreckage removal operation's total cost soared up to EUR 1,5 billion (GBP 1,2 billion / USD 2 billion). This is nearly the combined building cost of two Royal Caribbean units from the Oasis-class (currently world's largest passenger liners).

Costa Concordia and the Mafia

The UK's "The Independent" (using materials from the Italian online news media "La Repubblica") reported in March 2015, that Costa Concordia was carrying, quote, "huge shipment of Mafia-owned cocaine" when the disaster happened.

The "Concordia Mafia Drug" story was based on tape recordings of communications between Calabrian Mafia members. They revealed that the Ndrangheta syndicate had hidden large quantity of cocaine aboard the Costa cruise liner. The incident was related to the Mafia's Transatlantic cocaine-traffic business. According to Italian investigators, drugs were stowed on the ship most likely by crew members.

Costa Concordia shipwreck upright

After the accident, Captain Schettino's hair was tested positive for cocaine. In mid-March 2015 was reported 3 crew members arrests on Costa Pacifica. The arrests were done upon disembarkation, and for possession of 16+ kg / 35 pounds of cocaine. The drug bust was made in Malaga (Spain) where Costa Pacifica was docked after the Transatlantic repositioning crossing from South America to Europe (Mediterranean). A curious fact is, that the police investigation said the drug cartel uses for its trafficking operations also MSC and NCL-Norwegian cruise liners with scheduled Transatlantic crossings between Europe and Caribbean and South America.

Concordia's Captain Francesco Schettino

Born 1960 in Castellammare di Stabia (a coastal town south of Naples), Concordia's Captain was aged 52 in the time of the accident. Captain Schettino worked for Costa Crociere for 10 years (since 2002). His parents were also sailors. He attended the naval academy in Piano di Sorrento, worked on a tourist boat, then on superyachts, starting his career with Costa in 2002.

Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino

He was initially appointed a Chief Security Officer, then promoted to Captain in 2006 (second-in-command officer). He was the Master of Costa Concordia for 5 years. In 2012 he became one of the world's most infamous Captains. Read here some of the most popular online reviews from renown news media sources on the subject of his guilt.

  • "He probably saved many many lives". Some have come to his defense (there's a Facebook page with over 10,000 fans, most of them sailors themselves. They strongly believe Francesco Schettino have made the right decision to steer the Concordia towards port (after the collision) which saved dozens of lives.
  • "In the face of danger self-preservation is an instinct, a most natural reaction". This is simply the psychology's "fight-or-flight response", where the "flight" impulse usually means blind panic accompanied by (probably) a sense of depersonalization (when "reality" around is so unreal) and myriads of disorganized feelings and thoughts of great fear or even terror intruding into the mind. Still, according to facts, the captain abandoned his ship, then denied he had left; later he claimed he "tripped and fell into a lifeboat" by accident. This is an example of someone who panicked (big time) in the face of danger, and traditionally the captain's first and utmost priority is to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew. In moments of stress, ordinary people could become cowards, and some could become heroes – but how to foretell who will become which? The simplest answer - staff evaluation and better training. Cruise ship crew/staff need to be trained to cope with dangers and the basic instincts of self-preservation, to learn to evaluate risk and danger. After all, cruise ships are not supposed to sink, but to provide fun experiences at sea.
  • "The Costa Concordia captain is a Daredevil Captain who likes to take risks". Shirt - permanently unbuttoned, revealing a groomed chest hair. Skin - deeply tanned. Hair - slicked back in a mullet (looking confident and elegant). Reputation - a huge ego person, womanizer, insubordinate, and "He drives a ship like a Ferrari". According to the Marseilles Port Authority, just a month before the sinking accident, Schettino left with Concordia Port Marseilles in 60 knots (70 mph / 111 kph) winds against the port authority's orders.
  • "He's been encouraged 'by his superiors to sail-past Giglio and other beauty islands". According to the Costa's officials, the decision to take the ship so close to Giglio was unauthorized. However, other captains had executed many of such "salutes (stunts?) as well, sailing very close to beautiful islands, like Capri, for example. It surely sounds like fun - the cruise liners sounded their sirens, all decks are lit up, passengers are happily excited. And this practice was good publicity for the Costa company. According to the captain Schettino's 135 pages of testimony, the very last Costa Concordia "cruise salute" had been planned and authorized before the Civitavecchia departure. And other Costa captains had done the same thing, quote, "all around the world".

Concordia's Captain was on trial and charged with manslaughter and loss of the ship. According to the accident report, the main cause for the disaster was attributed to, quote, "the Master's unconventional behavior". On February 11, 2015, Concordia's "Coward Captain' Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in jail on charges for manslaughter (10 years), wrecking the ship (5 years) and abandoning ship (1 year). He also had to pay all court costs. On May 12, 2017, the Court of Cassation upheld Schettino's lower court convictions and ruled a 16-year prison sentence.

Schettino is married to Fabiola Russo and they have a daughter. When the collision occurred, present with Schettino on the Navigation Bridge was Domnica Cemortan (Moldovian dancer) who later admitted having a love affair with him. She was not a crew member and without ticket.

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