Costa Concordia disaster

Costa Concordia disaster
Collision of Costa Concordia 11.jpg
Aground with rigid lifeboats in foreground and inflatables hanging from the side of the ship
Date13 January 2012 (2012-01-13)
LocationOff Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, Italy, Mediterranean Sea
TypeShip grounding
CauseStruck a rock while deviating from planned course
Participants4,252[1] (3,206 passengers; 1,023 crew and personnel)[2]
Deaths33 (32 passengers and crew, 1 salvage member)
Non-fatal injuries64
CaptainFrancesco Schettino
OperatorCosta Crociere
Salvage
  • Fuel and oil extraction: March 2012
  • Righting: September 2013
  • Refloated and towed: July 2014

The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia[p 1] ran aground and overturned after striking an underwater rock off Isola del Giglio,[p 2] Tuscany, on 13 January 2012, resulting in 32 deaths. There may have been additional people not listed as on board, so the death toll could possibly be higher.[3] The search for bodies was canceled at the end of January[4] and resumed after the parbuckling manoeuvre in September 2013, after which additional remains were found.[5] On 26 September 2013, remains were found on deck 4, and were reported as being the two passengers reported as missing.[6] The following day, the remains were found not to be from the missing passengers.[7] In October 2013, the body of one of the missing passengers was found and confirmed to be that of Maria Grazia Trecarichi. Scuba divers had discovered her body near the third deck of the salvaged ship.[8]

The eight year old Costa Cruises vessel was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea when she deviated from her planned route at the Isola del Giglio, sailed closer to the island, and struck a rock formation on the sea floor. A six-hour rescue effort resulted in most of the passengers being brought ashore.

An investigation focused on shortcomings in the procedures followed by the crew and the actions of the Italian captain, who allegedly left the ship prematurely.[9][10] About 300 passengers were left on board, most of whom were rescued by helicopter or motorboats in the area.[10] Captain Francesco Schettino was later found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the disaster and sentenced to sixteen years in prison.[11][12] Despite receiving its own share of criticism, Costa Cruises did not face criminal charges.[13]

Costa Concordia was officially declared a "constructive total loss" by the insurance company, and her salvage was "one of the biggest maritime salvage operations".[14] On 16 September 2013, the parbuckle salvage of the ship began,[15] and by the early hours of 17 September 2013, the ship was set upright on its underwater cradle.[16] In July 2014, the ship was refloated by large sponsons (metal tanks) welded to its sides and was towed 320 kilometres (200 miles) to its home port of Genoa for scrapping[17] which was finished in July 2017.[18]

The total cost of the disaster, including victims' compensation, refloating, towing and scrapping costs, is estimated at approximately $2 billion, more than three times the $612 million construction cost of the ship.[19][20] Costa Cruises offered compensation to passengers (to a limit of €11,000 a person) to pay for all damages, including the value of the cruise. 65% of the survivors took the offer.[inconsistent]

Background

Costa Concordia disaster is located in Italy
Costa Concordia disaster
Location where Costa Concordia ran aground in 2012
MS Costa Concordia before the disaster
MS Costa Concordia before the disaster
Ship lying on the side, hull gash with boulder is seen below exposed waterline of ship
Wrecked ship with boulder in hull gash

Costa Concordia (call sign: IBHD, IMO number: 9320544, MMSI number: 247158500), with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members on board,[2] was sailing off Isola del Giglio on the night of 13 January 2012, having begun a planned seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia, Lazio, Italy, to Savona and five other ports.[21] She struck her port side on a reef,[22][23] at 21:42 or 21:45 local time.[24] The reef is charted as an area known as Le Scole,[25][26] about 800 metres (870 yd) south of the entrance to the harbour of Giglio Porto, on the island's east coast.

The initial impact was at a point 8 metres (26 ft) below water at the "Scola piccola"[22][27] 42°21′20″N 10°55′50″E / 42°21′20″N 10°55′50″E / 42.35556; 10.93056, the most seaward exposed rock of Le Scole, which tore a 50-metre (160 ft) gash in the ship's port side below the water line.[28] The impact sheared two long strips of steel from the ship's hull; these were later found on the seabed 92 to 96 metres (302 to 315 ft) from the main island.[22][29] The ship had a large boulder embedded in her hull at the aft end of the impact gash.[30] A few minutes after the impact, the head of the engine room warned the captain that the hull had an irreparable tear of 70 metres (230 ft)[31] through which water entered and submerged the generators and engines.[32]

Without propulsive power and on emergency electric power, the ship "shifted position only by means of inertia and the rudders"[33] and continued north from Le Scole until well past Giglio Porto.[34] Captain Schettino has said various instruments were not functioning.[35] Reports differ whether the ship listed to port soon after the impact and when she began listing to starboard.[36][37] At 22:10, the vessel turned south. The vessel was then listing to starboard, initially by about 20°, coming to rest by 22:44[38] at Punta del Gabbianara in about 20 metres[39] of water at an angle of heel of about 70°. Captain Schettino attributes the final grounding of the ship at Punta del Gabbianara to his own effort to manoeuvre the ship there.[40] In contrast, on 3 February, the chief of the Italian Coast Guard testified that the final grounding of the ship at Punta del Gabbianara may not have been related to any attempts to manoeuvre the ship[41] and the ship may have drifted simply due to the prevailing winds that night.[42]

Situation on the bridge

Captain Schettino said that, before approaching the island, he turned off the alarm system for the ship's computer navigation system.[43] "I was navigating by sight, because I knew those seabeds well. I had done the move three, four times."[44] He told investigators that he saw waves breaking on the reef and turned abruptly, swinging the side of the hull into the reef.[45] "I have to take responsibility for the fact that I made a judgment error."[45] "This time I ordered the turn too late."[46] The captain initially said the ship was about 300 metres (330 yd) from the shore (about the length of the vessel) and hit an uncharted rock.[47] The ship's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, told investigators Schettino had left his reading glasses in his cabin and repeatedly asked Ambrosio to check the radar for him.[48][49]

The captain said that Costa Cruises managers told him to perform a sail-past salute on 13 January 2012.[50] Previously, on 14 August 2011, the ship took a similar sail-past route, but not as close to Le Scole.[51] 14 August 2011 sail-past was approved by Costa Cruises and was done in daylight during an island festival.[44] The normal shipping route passes about 8 km (5 mi) offshore.[52][53][p 3]

Costa Cruises confirmed that the course taken in 2012 was "not a defined [computer programmed] route for passing Giglio."[56][p 4] In an interview with the Italian TV channel Canale 5 on 10 July 2012, Schettino said this was a contributing factor to the accident.[58] In addition, at the captain's invitation, the maître d'hôtel of the ship, who is from the island, was on the ship's bridge to view the island during the sail-past.[59] A further person on the bridge was a Moldovan dancer, Domnica Cemortan, who testified that she was in a romantic relationship with Captain Schettino and had just boarded the ship as a non-paying passenger.[60]

Situation on deck

Passengers were in the dining hall when there was a sudden, loud bang, which a crew member (speaking over the intercom) ascribed to an "electrical failure".[61] "We told the guests everything was [okay] and under control and we tried to stop them panicking", a cabin steward recalled.[36] Coincidentally, when the ship first made impact with the rock, it was claimed that the Celine Dion Titanic theme song "My Heart Will Go On" was playing in a restaurant.[62][63][64] The ship lost cabin electrical power shortly after the initial collision.[65] "The boat started shaking. The noise—there was panic, like in a film, dishes crashing to the floor, people running, people falling down the stairs," said a survivor. Those on board said the ship suddenly tilted to the port side.[36] Passengers were later advised to put on their life jackets.[61]

Half an hour before the abandon-ship order, one crew member was recorded on video telling passengers at a muster station, "We have solved the problems we had and invite everyone to return to their cabins."[66] When the ship later turned around, she began to list approximately 20° to the starboard side, creating problems in launching the lifeboats. The president of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said normal lifeboat evacuation became "almost impossible" because the ship listed so quickly.[67]

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