Tug boats push the Costa Concordia inside Genoa's port, in
northern Italy, where the ship will be broken up for scrap.
REUTERS/ Stefano Rellandini
The wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner limped into its
last port, when it was towed to the northern Italian city of
Genoa to be broken up for scrap, two and a-half years after
running aground and sinking with the loss of 32 lives.
After a four-day journey from the Tuscan island of Giglio,
where it sank on January 13, 2012, the 114,500-tonne hulk was
manoeuvred into place and secured at the conclusion of one of
the largest and most complex maritime salvages ever
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi flew to Genoa to hail the
completion of the operation which restored some pride to
Italy after a disaster that was widely interpreted as a
national humiliation as well as a human tragedy.
"This isn't a day for showing off or creating a spectacle,
but it's a mark of gratitude from the prime minister for
getting something done which everyone said would be
impossible," Renzi told reporters on the dock, saluting the
work of the salvage engineers from Italy and around the
"We have had a terrible page to turn, but Italy isn't a
country destined for the scrap heap," he said.
In contrast to the night when the Concordia ran aground and
capsized during a display sometimes performed by cruise ships
known as a "salute", the salvage operation has been a
resounding technical success.
After hours of preparation, dockworkers fixed the wreck in
place in the industrial port of Voltri, just outside the main
harbour in Genoa.
It will be dismantled by a consortium led by Italian
engineering group Saipem and Genoa-based San Giorgio del
Porto in an operation expected to cost 100 million euros and
take up to two years.
The overall salvage effort is expected to cost Carnival Corp
, owner of the ship's operator, Costa Cruises and its
insurers more than 1.5 billion euros ($2.14 billion).
The Costa Concordia, a huge floating hotel as long as three
football pitches laid end to end with 13 passenger decks, was
carrying some 4,000 passengers and crew when it went down
shortly after the start of a Mediterranean cruise.
Its captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for causing the
shipwreck, which ended in a chaotic nighttime evacuation
during which 32 people died. The body of one crew member lost
during the accident has still not been recovered.
Work has proceeded with very few serious hitches since the
wreck was brought upright from its position on the rocks last
September. That was a multinational effort led by U.S.
maritime recovery specialist Titan Salvage which involved as
many as 200 crew working on the site at any one time.
After spending the winter months secured in place, the liner
was refloated last week and began the voyage of nearly 200
miles to Genoa, which beat rival bids from ports in Italy and
Turkey to secure the demolition contract.
Supported by huge "sponsons", or buoyancy tanks, on either
side, the wreck has been towed by two tugboats accompanied by
a convoy of auxiliary vessels, travelling at an average speed
of around two nautical miles an hour. Helped by calm seas,
there were no major alarms during the voyage.
Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said concerns in
France about possible pollution damage during the transfer,
which took the Concordia near Corsica, had proved unfounded.
"There hasn't been any problem at all. They should have a bit
more confidence in Italians," he said.