Follow live as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off Giglio Island, Italy, is raised in the biggest salvage operation of its kind in maritime history. Progress has been made and the ship is slowly rightsizing with efforts expected to continue at least through Tuesday.
The efforts of 430 professionals working round the clock to right the Costa Concordia have come up against the complex reality of what has been called the most challenging salvage operation ever performed, with the granite rocks underneath the ship and rough seas.
Rescue teams have managed to stabilize the ship, which is anchored to underwater granite with four submarine anchor blocks and wires, each able to withstand a thousand-ton force. Twenty-five welders are working to reinforce the hull of the Concordia on the sea side, where the wires and hull projections used for stability and to pull up the vessel will be attached.
Salvage workers are drilling holes into the granite that will support six undersea platforms that should arrive in February. On the sea side, between the platforms and the rocks, salvagers will also place an artificial bottom made of 18,000- to 20,000-ton cement bags – about the size of three-quarters of a football field – to create an even surface on the slanting sea bottom.
Once it is sea-ready, the ship will be pulled to a large and deep harbor located a convenient distance from the shipwreck site, although few harbors in Italy fit that description.
Over all, the quality of the water around the half-submerged ship has not been significantly polluted, according to Tuscany's Regional Agency for Environmental Protection, which is in charge of monitoring the site. A fluid spill from the ship's engine room last month, and other small spills, are not of great concern, the agency said.
Investigators are expected to seek indictments of the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, eight other crew members and Costa Cruises officials in February. Charges could include manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship before passengers were evacuated and causing environmental damage.
View a live cam of the salvage operation at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/10311659/Costa-Concordia-salvage-operation-live.html.