Costa Concordia ‘floating again’—two-and-a-half years after luxury liner sank

The shipwrecked Costa Concordia is floating on its own for the first time in two-and-a-half years as one of the biggest salvage operations ever enters its most crucial phase. Authorities expressed satisfaction that the operation to float the Concordia from an underwater platform had proceeded without a hitch. Thirty-two people died when the huge ship slammed into rocks off the Italian island in January 2012 and part of the ship’s 290-metre-long hull sank beneath the water.

The ship is floating. It is now about one metre off the underwater platform it was lying on.

Chief engineer Franco Porcellacchia speaking to reporters gathered on the island of Giglio.

The massive ship—twice as large as the Titanic—will be raised another metre before being shifted toward the open sea. The wreckage of the luxury liner will be dragged to the port of Genoa where it will be broken up and sold as scrap. Francesco Schettino, the ship’s captain, is on trial for charges including manslaughter. He is accused of deliberately altering the course of the Concordia in order to carry out a sail-by salute of the island in order to impress local residents and passengers. The 53-year-old, who was allegedly on the bridge with his Moldovan lover Domnica Cemortan, claimed it was “too dark to see anything” and told investigators he had not fled but had “tripped and fell into a lifeboat.”

The risks are that the ship could bend as it is raised, or the chains underneath it could snap. If disaster strikes, we will evacuate through emergency escapes on the bow and stern.

Nick Sloane, salvage master in charge of the technical side of the operation