Costa Concordia removal starts next week

Costa Concordia is close to leaving Italian waters, with the final stages of removal expected to start on Monday.

If good weather persists, the ship will be refloated one last time using two sponsons – projections used to stabilise the vessel.

Once the ship is safely floating, it will be towed 190 nautical miles to the Port of Genoa Voltri where she will be dismantled and recycled.

The process of removing the ship has been delayed several times over the past two and a half years due to environmental concerns and the ship’s half sunken position.

The first major step towards her removal was completed in September last year, when Italian authorities raised the wreckage and placed it on underwater platforms.

According to Costa Cruises’ chief executive, Michael Thamm, removal operations are expected to cost the line over $1.5 billion euros.

He told a German newspaper that so far costs are at one billion euros, but that doesn’t include the 100 million for scrapping or the cost of repairing damage of Giglio Island.

The incident is also expected to hurt the Costa Cruises brand profitability for at least another two years.

Parent company, Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison revealed last year that the brand is beginning to recover but it has a way to go.

“It hasn’t come 100 percent back but you wouldn’t expect that.”

The ship has been sitting off the coast of Giglio in Italy since January 2012 when she hit rocks and sunk.

Thirty-two lives were lost during the incident.

The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before evacuation of all passengers.

He spoke about the night of accident this week, saying his orders were not carried out after the vessel struck the reef.

He said the orders were clear and timely, and should have been followed.

Meanwhile, Italian divers released footage from inside the ship before it was refloated in September.

The video goes into sunken areas of the 950-foot ship to capture eerie images of staircases, corridors, shops and furniture.

Click here to watch the video.