GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — Engineers declared success today as the Costa Concordia cruise ship was pulled completely upright during a complicated, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany, an unprecedented feat that sets the stage for it to be towed away next year.
The submerged side of the Concordia suffered significant damage during 20 months bearing the weight of the ship and the operation to right it, officials said. That damage must be repaired to stabilize the ship so it can be towed and turned into scrap.
Shortly after 4 a.m., a foghorn wailed off Giglio Island and the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it — known in nautical terms as parbuckling — was complete.
“We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen,” said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia’s owner, Costa Crociere SpA.
“A perfect operation, I must say,” with no environmental spill detected so far, he said.
Parbuckling is a standard operation to right capsized ships. But never before had it been used on such a huge cruise liner. The Concordia is expected to be floated away from Giglio in the spring and turned into scrap. The aim was to right it intact, to prevent the leakage of potentially toxic waste into the pristine waters around Giglio, which is located in a marine sanctuary.