Concordia leaves on final voyage

corcordia2014floatThis ship has (finally) sailed. This morning the wreck of the Costa Concordia giant cruise ship steamed slowly out of the gulf of Giglio Island off the Tuscan coast on it’s final voyage to the port of Genoa where it will be dismantled. The sea journey of the hulking wreck, pushed by tug boats onits final voyage, is expected to take until Sunday and hopefully it will be uneventful. Residents of the island gathered on the shores to witness the final stage of the hulking ship’s removal from the shoals where it ran aground over two years ago resulting in the death of 32 people. The Concordia and a convoy of at least 10 vessels will pass through a large marine sanctuary, which extends from the Italian coast to Corsica. The ship will be preceded by a boat full of whale and dolphin watchers. If any marine mammals are seen, the convoy will slow down until they pass.

The departure of the ship was the high point, as well as the end, of a gigantic and extremely expensive internationally-managed salvage operation that began last September when the ship was righted and resumed earlier this month was it was re-floated last week.

An oil leak that occurred as the 105,000-tonne liner was taken off the reef and then raised in the water until fortunately did not delay things excessively. And as engineers continued to pump compressed air into 30 huge steel compartments attached on all sides to the hull of the ship, forcing out seawater and providing buoyancy, a series of decks that had been submerged since the accident gradually returned to view, including that with the ship’s name, Costa Concordia, in giant blue letters. The final cost of salvaging and removing the cruise ship is likely to be $1.2 billion.

Once again, however, events involving the stricken cruise ship were somewhat tainted by the behavior of its former captain, Francesco Schettino, currently on trial for 32 counts of manslaughter and for abandoning ship, who just as the Costa Concordia was re-emerging from its briny grave, was photographed – smiling and suntanned – at a party on the island of Ischia. Shame on you, Captain Schettino. Shame on you.

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