A complicated salvage operation is set to begin Monday at the site of the Costa Concordia, the luxury cruise ship that ran aground off Italy in 2012. Even if it succeeds, it will be a long time before things return to normal on the island of Giglio, where the ship wrecked last January.
A large team has gathered to try to move the wreck of the ship, which measures 952 feet in length and weighs more than 114,000 tons. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"The old nautical term for the operation is called parbuckling. Over a 10- to 12-hour period, the ship — now slumped on its side on a sloping reef — will be slowly rotated as dozens of pulleys will pull it upright.
"The big unknown is the condition of the side of the ship lying on the jagged reef, which juts into the hull by some 30 feet. But the engineers in charge are confident that the operation will be successful — so confident that there's no Plan B.
"The option of breaking up the ship on site was discarded because the shipwreck lies in the Tuscan marine sanctuary, Europe's biggest, a haven for whales, dolphins and the last surviving monk seals."
Sylvia also reported on the undertaking for yesterday's All Things Considered, when she said that the ship's "carcass is like an alien from outer space that plopped down alongside the wooden dinghies moored in the small fishing port."
That port has seen big changes since the Concordia crash that resulted in 32 deaths. While the hulking wreck has harmed the tourism business, hundreds of engineers, salvage divers, and other workers have converged on Giglio.
The salvage operation is being undertaken by an American company, Titan Salvage, and an Italian contractor, Micoperi. The operation has its own website — called The Parbuckling Project — which details the steps in attempting to stabilize and re-float the Concordia.
Writing for CNN about the effects on the island, here's how Barbie Latza Nadeau describes the scene in Giglio:
"On any given night of the week, the portside bars are filled with men in gray Titan Salvage jumpsuits. An occasional salvage woman joins the mix, but the vast majority are men who come in to port to unwind. Some wear holsters with scissors hanging on them — a cowboy-esque equivalent of a pistol for deep sea oilrig divers. Others sling their red inflatable Titan-Micoperi life vests over their shoulders or dangle them on the barstools."