Over the last two months, there has been circulating speculation over what will be done with the Costa Concordia wreck. Additionally, salvage experts are still in the negotiation process. However, it has now been confirmed that whoever lands this massive undertaking will be responsible for refloating the cruise ship and towing it to its home port of Genoa in one piece.
Work by salvage teams and engineers is scheduled to start in May with an estimated total completion time ranging at one year. The cost of the salvage operation is expected to reach around US$288 million.
It would be far less expensive to break the ship into 300 ton sections, but with this option, the surrounding area may be negatively impacted. The area near Giglio Island where the wreck is located is designated as a maritime reserve and is home to various mammals, marine animals and plant species.
Costa company officials did state that the vessel will be removed in its entirety, but have not decided on who will get the contract yet. Ten companies are in the race for the rights to the project. Now that the procedure has been confirmed, Costa will narrow down their options to three companies in the next week. A few U.S. salvage firms are in the running, but Netherlands-based Smit maybe be in the lead, as they just finished removing over 2,000 tons of diesel fuel from the capsized liner.
The basic operation plans involve sealing the nearly 170-foot hull gash, eventually allowing for air to be pumped in to remove the water. The ship would be raised upright through the use of cranes. It would then be towed off.