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It would have been cheaper to lower the Mediterranean
September 16, 2013 6:05 AM   Subscribe

The cruise liner Costa Concordia is finally being raised (live footage) at a cost of more than $500m, in a delicate refloating procedure. Grounded since the 13th January 2012, when it ran aground at the Island of Giglio at the cost of 32 lives, the Costa Concordia will take 10-12 hours to be refloated, several more months to be prepared for towing and then taken off for scrap.

Previously: Refloating the Costa Concordia, Another Night to Remember, Shipping News
posted by MuffinMan (41 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Last link says it's north of $500m.
At a cost estimated so far at more than 600 million euros ($795 million), it is expected to be the most expensive maritime wreck recovery ever, accounting for more than half of an overall insurance loss of more than $1.1 billion.
My ignorant questions:
  1. Why not just take it apart there?
  2. Why not just sink it?
We build artificial reefs with ships all the time.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:17 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: It's in the middle of the Mediterranean's largest marine sanctuary. While they pumped the fuel out of the tanks, the hull itself may still be full of toxic waste. Sinking a ship you intend to sink is a lot easier to do cleanly than sinking one by accident.
posted by agentofselection at 6:20 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


"... Why not just sink it? ..."

Not to mention that there still may be 2 unrecovered bodies on board, thought to possibly be in compartments divers were unable to safely access during earlier search and recovery attempts, for which there will apparently be a further search and recovery effort, once the ship is righted and stabilized in place.
posted by paulsc at 6:24 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Titan Salvage, the company that's refloating the Costa Concordia, got famous salvaging the Cougar Ace. Salvage is complicated and dangerous work in the best conditions. Do read that Wired story if you have not already.
posted by ddbeck at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


Not to mention that there still may be 2 unrecovered bodies on board....

At the cost of $500m that a bit steep for two bodies. That approaches irresponsible asset management.

I'm not an expert, so have no idea about these things, but I am pretty sure that's a lot of money.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:32 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm no Steve Zissou, but I'm guessing they couldn't drag it somewhere else in its current state without tearing it apart, and in its current position it could only sink 70 m ... the boat is 290 m long, so a bit of a tough fit. Not to mention the hazard to marine traffic and curious divers even if it could be submerged.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:39 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My ignorant questions:

Why not just take it apart there?
Why not just sink it?

We build artificial reefs with ships all the time.


Ship breaking is not the type of activity you do out at site. You need places for people to work, and ways to remove the parts you take off. It's very dangerous work.


At the cost of $500m that a bit steep for two bodies. That approaches irresponsible asset management.


That's not so much about asset management as it is about law. Irresponsible asset management is a captain taking a giant cruise ship somewhere where it has no place being.
posted by azpenguin at 6:40 AM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Steve Zissou
The Brooklyn-based Federal criminal defense attorney? Why would he know about this?
posted by thelonius at 6:43 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the cost of $500m that a bit steep for two bodies. That approaches irresponsible asset management.

Shipwrecks don't just vanish overnight. I suspect that abandoning a massive, rusting eyesore perpetually leaching toxic waste into a marine sanctuary along a well-populated shoreline with your bright, cheerful corporate logos and colorways prominently splashed all over the decks would serve as a pretty effective reminder of your incompetent, greedy, and reckless stewardship. The two unrecovered rotting corpses of your former passengers would certainly serve as a nice cherry on that shit sundae. At best/worst it seems to me like you could survive as an enterprise by saying "fuck the environment" or "fuck my paying customers", but leaving behind a message that says both at the same time would leave your business pretty unsalvageable.
posted by the painkiller at 6:50 AM on September 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Why not just sink it?

Dude, that was like totally how we got into this mess in the first place.
posted by Segundus at 6:53 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why not just sink it?

Essentially, it is illegally parked and it needs to be towed.
posted by memebake at 6:55 AM on September 16, 2013 [29 favorites]


Why not just sink it?

Put simply: because the insurers don't get to decide on whether the ship can be scrapped in a cheaper and/or riskier manner. It's not their coastline and not their laws.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:56 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


They should get the Oregon state beach whale dynamite crew to blow the thing up.
posted by bukvich at 7:00 AM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why not just take it apart there?
Why not just sink it?


They've likely made the decision based on the potential for pollution from the ship. Ships are full of things that are bad for the sea. There's the ship fuel, and other things, paint, air conditioner fluid, and so on, that the local fishermen and residents who swim in the water may not want. Some of these things can be stripped in situ, but some cannot.

Leaving the ship there is like leaving an old, damaged underground storage tank. It will lead to some very expensive bills, economic, social and environmental, down the road, but it's hard to know when. If the potential damage is great enough, it can be cheaper to raise the ship. It's also wise to raise it as soon as possible, before rust and corrosion starts to weaken the structure. This is common enough that there are salvers who specialize in these sorts of large operations. There are ship raisings a few times a year around the world.
posted by bonehead at 7:29 AM on September 16, 2013


"Vada a RTFA, cazzo!"
 
posted by Herodios at 7:38 AM on September 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


They're not just salvaging the ship, they're salvaging the island as a tourist destination. Can you imagine being on a cruise ship and seeing a sunken ship just like yours poking out of the water as you sail by?
posted by miyabo at 7:55 AM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I read that the recovery attempt will cost $800million to a billion, but the ship itself is valued at like twice that.

Plus, also, its a hulk full of rotting food and other stores & various furnishings (they already warned about a possible terrible small from the rotting groceries!) in the middle of one of Europe's big marine sanctuaries. They have to do something at this stage.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:12 AM on September 16, 2013


No, the aquatic Steve Zissou
posted by lathrop at 8:37 AM on September 16, 2013


The question of whether salvaging or sinking the ship is cheaper is entirely spurious. The question of value for money is one the owners might moan about behind closed doors but it has little place in law and liability.

The owners / insurers are liable for the accident and they have to put things right irrespective of cost. If they can't afford to pay the bill they shouldn't have taken on the liability (ie operated it or insured it) and they could be sued into oblivion if they default.

You don't get to pick and choose, you comply with the law.

If you crash your car into the front of my house you don't get to just leave it there on the grounds it would be an expensive repair. Sure it costs more than if you'd crashed into a field but that's your fault and you're liable (or, as is often the case - your insurer is). If you don't pay or weren't insured then my insurer can (and will if the bill is big enough) pursue you privately and bankrupt you.

In some rare parts of the world you may be OK to dynamite it and call it a day. Or tow it to shore and abandon it to be stripped by locals. But just about anywhere 1st world that's going to be illegal. And in any case you probably have to clean the interior of all contaminants and you probably have to float it first in order to do that, which is most of the cost right there.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you crash a car and replacing the signs and general crap you hit costs you $10,000 then you don't get to complain. That is just what it costs. And if you crash a cruise ship then it costs 50,000 times as much ... well its a cruise ship what did you expect?
posted by samworm at 8:56 AM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


They should just tow it outside the environment.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:03 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's fascinating watching the extremely slow and careful raising. And seeing the large amount of boats, equipment, surrounding this. Guessing there's also going to be a clutch of documentaries, "The Righting of the Costa Concordia", some point soon.
posted by Wordshore at 9:07 AM on September 16, 2013


We build artificial reefs with ships all the time.

There is a lot of work involved in preparing a ship for artificial reef use. The ships have to first be stripped of anything that will contaminate the water (fuel, engine oil, and lubricants in everything from transformers to motors; insulation, plastics, etc.). This is a big job. Then you have to secure the ship for divers including things like removing hatches/doors, cutting access holes, removing anything that would pose a cutting or stabbing hazard.
posted by Mitheral at 9:16 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Guessing there's also going to be a clutch of documentaries, "The Righting of the Costa Concordia", some point soon.

Not to mention filks.

Tomorrow noon we hit the air and then take up the strain
And see the wrecked Italian cruise ship rise again...

posted by sourcequench at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


In addition to previous answers - she's only in about 15 meters of water, right outside a village and port, and was stuck on her side to the sloped seabed, half in, half out the water. In order to actually sink her, they'd have had to parbuckle and refloat her to tow her to much deeper water anyway - and once you've done the hard part of getting her afloat and under tow, you might as well tow her all the way to a proper salvage yard.

It's the biggest ever salvage operation this close to shore I believe - if she'd sunk further out in deeper water, she would have actually been easier to either leave there or salvage. She's too close to shore for the usual heavy sea salvage ships to work, and too far/deep for an effective shore salvage operation, especially given the likelyhood of toxic material dispersal as she was cut up.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


it can be cheaper to raise the ship. It's also wise to raise it as soon as possible, before rust and corrosion starts to weaken the structure.

Supposedly it's already started to weaken - if it'd been left for another year, it would have probably been too corroded to refloat without breaking apart.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:55 AM on September 16, 2013


I'm just astonished at the cost to remove the ship. From what I've read, it's more than the cost to build it.
posted by Nelson at 10:54 AM on September 16, 2013


Kudos for the 'Lew Grade' quote adaption BTW
posted by ewan at 12:13 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


They aren't dismantling it in place because, in order to safely dismantle the ship and clean it out, they have to refloat it. And since they're refloating it, they might as well tow it elsewhere.

Longer explanation:

a) it's ultra-dangerous to enter a ship that's partly underwater, and especially
b) one that is lying at an angle, which puts unusual stresses on the hull, also
c) with chairs, tables, and random ambience floating and falling, not to mention
d) an engine room full of lubricated machinery, where you don't want those lubricants in your marine sanctuary, and as well
e) freezers full of rotten food, under pressure because of decomposition and gasses, and will further screw up your marine sanctuary, plus
f) the illegally parked, eyesore, and insurance co. doesn't get to decide points, as well as (I think) a requirement to recover and return passenger property, plus a desire to identify and return the remains of the dead.
posted by zippy at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Think of it as economic stimulus.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:15 PM on September 16, 2013


Shouldn't Werner Herzog be out there?

He know's about dragging boats out of and into unlikely places.
posted by The Power Nap at 1:42 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


We need Paul F Tompkins's commentary on the live feed.
posted by zippy at 1:45 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Live images from Corriere della Sera.
posted by francesca too at 2:16 PM on September 16, 2013


Timelapse video from Reuters (partial, it's part of a report).
posted by dhartung at 3:06 PM on September 16, 2013


Put me in the "I don't care how much the clean up costs, it's your goddamn mess so clean it up already" camp.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 3:24 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


More diagrams at The Parbuckling Project.
posted by SteelyDuran at 7:17 PM on September 16, 2013


At a cost estimated so far at more than 600 million euros ($795 million), it is expected to be the most expensive maritime wreck recovery ever

it's like they've never heard of Project Azorian ($3.7 billion in 2013 dollars).
posted by russm at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Concordia is up.
posted by francesca too at 11:17 PM on September 16, 2013


Full report from the BBC.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:28 AM on September 17, 2013


They are - as people upthread are saying - raising her for several reasons (toxins, protected area, probably bodies on board).

They are also raising her because she's worth probably half the price of raising her at the breakers, and their P&I club and Hull sure as hell want to recover some of what they've paid out and are going to pay out.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:41 AM on September 17, 2013


Full time lapse
posted by Nelson at 7:43 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm totally wrong about her scrap value by an entire factor.

Spoke to a breaker friend of mine, and she's probably 50,000 ltd of high quality steel that would get about USD 450/ton in Alang, so USD 22.5m in value, probably discount that to USD 20m since a lot of that steel will have been compromised.

Can't see who insures their hull, but they are on the hook for a Very Large Amount of Money.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:51 AM on September 17, 2013


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