When a tragedy strikes, everyone wants somewhere to point the finger. And when it comes to the Costa Concordia tragedy, that finger seems to be lingering on the captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino.
On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia deviated its route to “salute” the residents on an Italian island. Schettino is faulted for sailing too close to the land, and has admitted that he was distracted with a phone call when the ship struck a reef just three hours after leaving port and capsized, killing 32 of 4,200 people on board.
Currently, the enormous ship is still residing partially submerged close to the coast of Giglio, where many measures are being taken to protect the environment, and ensure the tourist industry is not disturbed. One of these measures included extracting the half-million gallons of fuel from the ship’s 17 tanks. That operation began February 12th and ended March 24th. An American company, Titan Salvage, will be in charge of the clean up, partnered with an Italian company, Micoperi. It is expected to take another seven months.
Preliminary work began the week of June 17th to refloat the ship. If successful, it will be the biggest refloating operation in history, as it is nearly 1,000 feet long. By the end of August, the ship will be stabilized which will allow crews to do heavier work, and prevent the ship from falling off its current rest on a rocky ledge.
To refloat the ship a water tank will first be placed on the floating part of the ship, then two cranes (attached to an underwater platform) will hoist the Costa Concordia upright, with aid from the water tank. Then, more tanks will be placed on both sides of the ship once it is upright, and they will be filled with air to help refloat it. It will then be towed (what kind of ship tows a cruise ship?) to an Italian port and broken up.
The 80-ton rock that was the ship’s downfall will be removed and turned into a memorial for the 32 people who lost their lives. That seems a fitting memorial.
With such a colossal tragedy, it’s understandable why the finger pointing is taking off. Captain Schettino has been on house arrest since January, and an Italian judge lifted the sentence just last week, but has decreed Schettino can’t leave Naples. Schettino, who is facing charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship, causing a shipwreck, and failing to report the accident to the coast guard, has been accused of many things. Allegedly, Schettino delayed the abandon ship order for an hour, in which time the ship listed to one side disabling life boats to be lowered on that side. However, Schettino insists that he saved lives in steering the ship to shallower waters instead of abandoning the ship.
When the ship struck the rock, water flooded into the engine room causing a loss of power and light failure. Passengers struggled through near vertical hallways in the dark where an ill-performed evacuation happened.
Maritime law requires all passengers to be evacuated within 30 minutes, but the Costa Concordia took over six hours. Not all passengers were evacuated, about 300 were left on board, and several had to be removed via helicopter or motorboats in the area. Many bodies were found in the assigned evacuation points, wearing their life vests. Several passengers simply jumped and swam to shore. Schettino is accused of abandoning the ship early, but insists he did so to direct the evacuation from the shore.
Each passenger, regardless of age, will be collecting a lump sum of about $114,500, but passengers are welcome to reject this and seek other means of compensation. Currently, there is a lawsuit by four Americans and two Italians for $460 million. Another lawsuit has been announced for several counts of negligence.
Check out the most recent images on Newscom of the Costa Concordia tragedy.
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