The salvage operation of crippled cruise ship Costa Concordia is to start within days and last a year.
Costa described the task as “monumental, the likes of which have never been attempted before anywhere in the world”.
Confirmation of the imminent start of the work came as the Italian-American consortium Titan-Micoperi outlined its plan for removing the wreck of the vessel off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio.
Once floated, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port and dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Italian authorities. It has not been made clear what this entails.
More than 30 people died when the ship ran into rocks off the island in January and the vessel has been written off by parent company Carnival Corporation.
The salvage company plans to re-float the hull in one piece in an effort to minimise the environmental impact.
Once the removal is completed, the seabed will be cleaned and marine flora replanted.
Cosat president Gianni Onorato said: “Right from the early stages of the accident, Costa Crociere has been fully committed in terms of its resources, professional expertise and organisation to minimising the impact of the shipwreck on the environment and on Giglio in particular.
“As was the case for the fuel removal operation, we have always worked to find the best possible and safest solution to protect the island, its marine environment and its tourism industry.
“We are now launching a salvage operation with characteristics and technical complexities that have never been faced before.
“There will inevitably be some unknowns in a project of this scope, but we are sure we have made the right decision and will continue to work to our best ability and on schedule.”
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