On May 6, salvage workers at the Costa Concordia wreckage off the Tuscan island of Giglio heard the worst sound possible on any such operation — groaning, bending steel. It was a sound they hoped not to hear when the ship was rotated to an upright position last September in a procedure known as parbuckling.
“It was exceptionally loud for everyone in the area,” Nick Sloane, head of the Titan Micoperi joint venture tasked with the removal of the ship, told Scientific American. “It is the sound you don’t want to hear on a job like this.”
Sloane is heading up a massive, multiyear effort to remove and float away the heavily damaged cruise ship as well as all the diesel fuel, lubricants and other chemicals onboard from the site, home to pristine coral reefs, sea grasses and spawning grounds. In January 2012 Costa Concordia crashed on rocks off the island, 19 kilometers off Italy’s western coast, resulting in 32 deaths.