The rusty 115,000-tonne Costa Concordia set off on her final journey yesterday, two-and-a-half years after she hit rocks and capsized off the coast of Giglio in Italy, claiming the lives of 32 passengers.
Surrounding boats sounded their horns, church bells rang and onlookers cheered as two tugboats peeled the hulk of the ship away from her position.
Travelling at two knots per hour with a convoy of 10 ships and 12 people on board, the ship is en route to an Italian scrapyard where she will be dismantled and recycled.
The ship will travel out of the port towards the east and then head north to Genoa. The journey is expected to take up to four days to complete.
“When we are in sight of the port of Genoa, we can declare victory,” engineer in charge of operations, Franco Gabrielli said.
Over the past month, engineers and divers prepared Concordia for the final trip by refloating and balancing her using inflatable metal boxes.
The boxes were filled with air, raising the ship deck-by-deck to clear each level of water and debris.
As it was lifted, Giglio locals were able to see the ‘Costa Concordia’ sign painted on the ship’s hull for the first time in over two years.
The entire salvage operation is expected to set Costa Cruises back by $1.5 billion euros. Dismantling and repairing damage to Giglio will cost the line $100,000 euros alone.
Meanwhile, the ship’s captain Francesco Schettino is facing charges for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before evacuation of all passengers.