Costa Concordia

Wrecked, aground and listing at about 70 degrees, with used lifeboats in foreground

On 13 January 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia hit a rocky outcropping off the coast of Italy and partially sank. Securing wreck site and protecting environment is an ongoing problem. The ship must be moved before it does any more damage to the fragile coast or breaks up and can not be removed by sea. details…

Right and re-float the cruise ship Costa Concordia
Once upright, and stabilized with vast floatation chambers, the ship will be towed to a shipyard where it will be taken apart for scrap. The engineering team that will plan and oversee the work. They will ensure that important elements of the operation are not overlooked. The information in the video and images as well as web resources are available.

position of wreck on the shore
  • Ask – The ship can’t stay where it is. It may break apart in a big storm. There is fragile coast line around its location. The ocean is really deep just a few miles away. This is a huge job because the ship is so big. It is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world. It is as big as a hotel at Disney World. What are the environmental concerns and restrictions? How can the ship be floated away? Could they just fix the ship where it is?
  • Imagine – Explore similar solutions, possible improvements, materials, methods, new ideas. What has to happen? How would you do this? Are there technologies that are used for other projects that are adapted for use in this unusual situation?
  • Plan – Work out what it takes to build. There are many innovative tools and materials used on this project. Some are completely new and are untested. Any special tools? prototype, scale model, mathematical model, CAD. What are some of the challenges. What would you need to know more about? How was the work divided up so many different parts could be worked on?
  • Create – The work is processing. Check back for updates. This is a special example. This story started a year after the accident happened, but the project is still under way. New information comes along from time to time. How would you solve the problem, knowing what you know now?
  • Improve – The engineers working on the problem used the best information that was available at the time the decisions were made. As they worked, new information became available. Were there better solutions as they learned more about the problem? Is there a simpler solution? A more complex solution?
A spectral view of the starboard side of the Costa Concordia Date 16 September 2013

The ship was returned to a fully upright position in the early hours of 17 September 2013. As of 16 September 2013 the salvage operation has cost over $800 million.

After the successful righting, the ship will stay on a platform while further inspections are made and the starboard sponsons are attached. It will then be re-floated and towed to an Italian port to be scrapped.

Engineering ideas

  • levers, buoyancy, metallurgy, cantilevers, floatation, force, hydraulic pumps

News & updates

  • 2014.01 – the Costa Concordia removal will begin in June.
  • For most of the past year, a multinational team of 500 salvage engineers has been stabilizing the wreck and preparing for the start of the lifting operation.
  • 2013.09.16 – Floatation tanks on the exposed side and cables have been attached to the ship. Next major step – pulling the ship upright so floatation tanks can now be attached to the other side – the ship had been lying on this side so they could put the floatation tanks on until the ship could lean the other way.
    The ship is on the side of a mountain on the seabed, balanced on two reefs and she is a really large ship – she’s three football fields long, and weighs more than a hundred thousand tons. It’s never been done on this scale. more…. Preparations (video 2:13
  • 2013.09.17 – Costa Concordia has been righted. Work continues to add additional floatation to the side that is now exposed. Then, the ship will be towed away and scrapped.

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • Draw a floor plan for the rigging being put in place on the ocean bottom to lift the Costa Concordia from its side.
  • Give a presentation about the Costa Concordia’s story so far.

Learn more…