Costa Concordia today embarked on her final voyage, from the island of Giglio to Genoa in northwest Italy. Her towing marks just one accomplishment in one the biggest salvage operations in maritime history.
The journey, which began shortly before 09:00 local time, includes a 17-man crew aboard the Costa Concordia, more than a dozen accompanying vessels, and two giant tugs that are towing the wreck at just two knots per hour. She is expected to sail 15 miles from Corsica and close to the islands of Elba and Capraia before reaching Genoa late Saturday.
“This is a big day for Giglio but we’ll only be able to relax once it reaches Genoa”, Nick Sloane, the South African salvage master in charge of the operation, said.
Costa Crociere, estimate the operation to remove the wreck from the reef and tow it for scrapping will cost 1.5bn euros in total.
Surviving passengers who returned to the Tuscan island of Giglio for the final farewell, said they are ready to put the nightmarish experience behind them.
“We hope that what we’ve kept inside us will depart when the boat departs. And that as it goes on its way, we can finally go on ours,” Anne Decre of the French Survivors’ Collective told AFP, clutching the hand of friend Nicole Servel whose husband died in the disaster.
Costa Concordia is being towed by Dutch- and Vanuatu-flagged boats, while the flotilla carries divers, engineers, a medical team and environmental experts with it.
Sensors attached to the sides of the ship will monitor for possible cracks in the crippled hull, while underwater cameras will watch for debris washing out of the vessel amid fears toxic waste could spill into the sea.
Objects floating free such as suitcases, clothes and furniture will be caught in a huge net while infrared sensors will be used to detect possible oil leaks at night.
Investigators are still looking for the body of Indian waiter Russel Rebello, whose body is the only one not to have been found.