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The Miraculous Raising of the Liner, "Costa Concordia."

Updated on September 17, 2013

There's no good news for the Concordia, only for Italy

Captain Francisco Schettino
Captain Francisco Schettino | Source
The raised ship showing some of the extreme damage
The raised ship showing some of the extreme damage | Source
Showing the spider's web parbuckles of heavy chain
Showing the spider's web parbuckles of heavy chain
The Concordia in better days
The Concordia in better days

An Unforgettable Feat of Engineering


This writer must add his inadequate but respectful voice into a paen to the many Italian agencies and salvage experts and workers who managed, over less than 24 hours, to raise this half-million ton vessel from its watery grave.

It was an incredible example of salvage engineering, using a principle called Parbuckling, once loved by rum smugglers in the south of England, who used the process to hoist heavy casks of rum from the sea into tiny rowing boats. More on that in a minute.

First, the vessel concerned - the Costa Concordia - was the largest ship ever commisioned at her time of construction:

She was - and her corpse is - 950 feet long with a huge 116 foot beam (width). The behemoth drew 26 plus feet to the bottom of the keel. The liner was capable of more than 20 knots from huge electric/diesel power plants.

Passengers lacked nothing on this floating pleasure-palace from many retaurants and bars to a huge health club and swimming pools. Food and entertainment was available most of the long days and nights.

So successful was the cruise ship from her launch in 2004 until her untimely end last year on January 13, at 9:45 in the evening, that she spawned five other giant liners in her image for the owners, Carnival Cruise Lines: the Costas "Serena, Pacifica, Favlosa, Fascunosa and the Carnival Splendour."

The blame for the sinking of this enormous ship is ascribed to the actions and orders of one man, it's skipper, who is was imprisoned, bailed, and charged with multiple offences, which seems certain to see him becoming jailed for many years and hated for the rest of his life.

He brought his vessel far too close to Isola de Giglio, off Italy's coast 100 NW of Rome; it is said he wanted to impress a family member by parading the Concordia close to his house on the island! This will have to go down as one of the most irresponsible acts of a master seaman, who had the lives of 3229 passengers and 1023 crew members in his hands.

Where were his charts and sonar...what had happened to this experienced seaman's judgement...and, above all, where was his courage!?? (Perhaps even darker reasons may come to light).

Titanic-like, the poor Concordia struck a submerged reef of granite which slit her open like a sardine can for 160 feet!

Continuing his macabre behaviour and paranoid "denial," the Captain - Francisco Schettino - "refused" to order "abandon ship" for a whole hour while the stricken liner took on water, listed to starboard and drifted right onto rocks 55 yards from the island; its power silenced by the incoming sea , and many people already swimming to shore!

Schettino might have been able to recue something of his reputation had he stayed on Concordia and helped rescue his crew and passengers: instead, he abandoned ship ahead of many of his compliment, in the most cowardly way imaginable, an absolutely unforgivable act from a Master of any vessel. The adage, "A Captain goes down with his ship" is the true law of the sea - as the brave captain of Titanic did along with many masters lost at sea through being the last to leave - or drown - on their sinking vessels.

This sad story would have faded into the history of the sea - replete with countless disaster both in war and peacetime - were it not for last night's (16 August, 2013) almost miraculous salvage effort.

The engineering was based on the use of "Parbuckling," the system used by our smugglers mentioned above.

A hundred (my guess) * huge chains were attached to the PORT (left) side of the ship that faced the open sea. These were then passed under the side and keel to mighty winches and cranes on the STARBOARD (right) side facing the land.

As they tightened with thousands of tons tensile strength each, they used leverage inherrent in all pulleys and parbuckling, increasing the effort several times, to lift and twist the ship towards the upright position, onto a prepared bed on the rocks, where she would stay for up to another year. This was done with the ship resting just a few yards from a drop-off into 300 foot depths into which she could easily have slid.

It is also a salute to Italian Social Justice that has made it law for any wrecks to be removed: it took more than 18 months to organize the insurers and shipping company to undertake the salvage...if it had been in Britain, and many other lands, the Concordia might have lain where she sank until she finally rusted away sometime in the next Century! (many wrecks are still visible along Britain's coastline). The salvage operation is said to have cost about half a billion pounds!

During this time, the two missing bodies will be sought, along with millions of pounds in passenger and crew belongings as well as further lifting the ship by means of huge flotation chambers and repairing the hole in her side to make Concordia safe for her final trip to the point where she will be scrapped.

The ship was doomed of course. Any repairs needed will be the minimum to move her to her last resing place.

As dawn today revealed the ship finally upright again, the extent of the damage by her founder onto the unforgiving granite was finally revealed. Nearly one-third of her starboard side was stoven in like a can in a crusher and the once proud vessel was grimy and damaged all over. (Divers had removed and rescued many giant clams which had moved aboard!).

It was clear how grave had been the disaster nearly two years ago when more than 3,000 people had tried to escape the flooding decks with help from many brave crew members, but with the leadership of a coward whose day of justice isn't far hence. If the ship had drifted out to sea and then sunk, the loss of life would undoubtedly be horrendous instead of just 30 with two still missing.

Many websites have more information on the salvage and there are several "live-cam" recordings on video. One can only imagine the unmeasurable forces in play while this ship, half full of seawater. was being slowly lifted. The salvage operators should be amply rewarded by a grateful public in Italy...


* In the event, there were just 36 chains.

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    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Well, I can't be branded as one who ignores Miz Devyne. I notice you are exemplary at answering comments; I rarely miss answering one of yours, dear, and even pop back several times on your articles if you reflect.

      Bob xoxo

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Seeing as how you ignored my last comment Bobby, I will give this another view. It's a well written article as I know I can count on you to write. Everyone needs to read it.

      xox

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Strictly: Thank you my duck. Playing snooker today...off to chalk my cue! hee hee

      Bob

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 4 years ago from Australia

      G'day Bob, LOL only 36 chains. You made me giggle. I loved watching the footage of this salvage on the news and you've written a fun and interesting Hub about it!

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Genna..how's your craic? Actually a smut-free Irish greeting.

      Yes. It was touch and go for a while when they found the wreck was even heavier than they thought, but the parbuckling chains held and up she came. Heaviest lift by a factor of 10 than any attempted in a marine environment before. The S. African firm earned their huge fee.

      Bob

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I first learned about the herculean task of raining this liner several weeks ago, and was wowed by the overall planning involved. Amazing. Such a horrific event, this sinking, and by a man that shouldn’t have been within a mile of that liner. (Where do they find these people?) Excellent hub, Bob.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I only had through my years in the navy! Interesting procedure but I had no idea it could be used in a mammoth operation like this.

      Nice to hear from ya Suze, I'm am rarely on here these days Bob

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Wow - amazing feat. I've also never heard of parbuckling. I like learning something new - thanks. Great article!

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Pam..thanks, but there was so much written about this, from Wiki on to actual workers who helped raise her. I thought it was such a significant engineering coup, and, as you say, more of a celebration of what man can do when pressed than a eulogy of a lost ship and dead passengers.

      Thanks for visit...Bob

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      As soon as I saw your title I knew I wanted to read this. I have avoided reading anything on the subject as it is so sad, but coming at it from this angle -- the marvel of raising the ship -- I absorbed all of the rest of the details of this sinking caused by one man's foolish judgment. Great writing, Bob.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks Tilly...I have actually used parbuckling when I was a seaman many moons ago. Very useful process in the microword, now we saw it in a macro situation. terrific engineering in this ground-breaking removal of a huge object about to pollute the seas for a millennia. Thanks for visit

      Bob

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Bob you always pick the most interesting subjects. This unfortunate, useless sinking has caught the attention of the the world, not once but three times. First when the ship sank, next when the truth came out about the captain and now at the raising.

      Thanks for all the educational information about "parbuckling" and the raising of this ship, this landlubber would have no clue!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hilarious if not so sad...I think HP is run by a psyche ward encounter group!

      If you are sub standard, what of the rest of us?

      Bob

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi down there! How's Espana treating ya? Thanks for comment...quite an operation...I bet they breathed very softly all night

      Bob xhttps://hubpages.com/travel/The-Lifting-of-the-Lin...

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Bob.

      Great hub once again and the best photo I have seen so far of the ship upright.

      The thing that stands out to me in all this is the stupidity and cowardice of the Captain . All those lives lost and a proud and expensive ship ruined, not to mention environmental damage and all for the sake of showing off, what an ass.

      Great job Bob in summing up a huge salvage operation , one which many believed couldn´t be done , in an easy to understand format.

      Good to see you back :)

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Bob!

      Yeah, that was a couple of years ago, and I've stopped submitting.

      Hubpages says I'm sub-standard,

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Bravo Bobby! Excellent read as always! I guess Captain Schettino is proof that men must show off and take fool-hardy risks no matter if they're driving a motor vehicle on land (see my hub about who is the better driver, men or women), or a ship at sea!

      It's not an issue of men not knowing how to drive well, it's a matter of getting them to actually do it, and many men simply can't bring themselves to do the smart thing when there's risk available.

      Voted this article up, interesting, and awesome. Will share it, too. Now that you're back in the swing of it, write another good article. I'll be watching for it. xx

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Randy. Great pics and videos online. Lifting a ship this heavy has never been attempted before, it was an astonishing accomplishment. Nice to see ya

      Bob

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Will. I saw you were lauded as being the best fiction writer (short stories) but it might have been some time ago

      Bob

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Bob, I'm glad to find this article as I missed the raising of this huge ship. Too bad it's damaged beyond repair because of an idiot skipper though. Thanks for the update and info.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Did I miss something on Hubpages (again!), or was that just a nice compliment?

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "Thanks Will - and congratulations for your popularity and success on Hubpages"

      ???

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi 'Star. Perhaps I didn't make it clear that they are only making her sea-worthy in order to move her somewhere to officially scrap her?

      They had to move her or face criminal penalties under Italian law.

      She could never be made fit for use again, even if she wasn't also a death-ship.

      Bob

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks Will - and congratulations for your popularity and success on Hubpages

      Bob

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Great hub! I can't believe they didn't just leave her there, giant clams and all. Will they turn it into a museum or something? Surely they are not planning to re-sail the ship.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Excellent article, Bob. Talk about a heavy lift!

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi OP...it was touch and go for a few hours I believe. The forces involved were indescribable...it must have been close to a million tons with the water impedance also.

      Thanks for visit

      Bob

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 4 years ago

      Bob - Great job of writing up the raising of this once majestic ship. I have yet to see any live video of the actual raising but had watched a show describing how it was going to be accomplished.

      This was an amazingly well planned and orchestrated operation. I can't even imagine the stress level of those responsible for getting this job done.

      Had their plan not worked the results could have been disastrous. My hat is off to those who planned and accomplished this huge undertaking.

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