Costa Concordia – what will remain?

 costa sunk

By Dr Chris Ware


On 13 January 2012 Costa Concordia collided with rocks and went over on her beam ends sinking in shallow water off the Island of Giglio. What followed was both a farce and a tragedy, a Captain who left his vessel only to be ordered by the Coast Guard to return, and the deaths of thirty two people. The ships herself would be both an object of morbid fascination, as well as, potentially,   an ecological time bomb.   What was set in train was to be the largest salvage attempt on any vessel, it is perhaps pure coincidence that today 14th July is Bastille Day, the date set by the weather rather than any other consideration. The Concordia had previously been righted, having first had much of the fuel oil pumped out, and a platform built on the seabed on which she would rest.


With caissons and bracing wires attached she will be slowly raised 1.5 meters, as much to see if the hull, distorted and holed by collision, will stay intact, before she would be raise further and one last search made for the one member of the crew who was not found, a reminder, amongst all the engineering marvels on display, of the human cost. And what next, Costa Concordia will be towed to the mainland at a genteel 2 knots and then docked and dismantled.  After all this what will remain? Perhaps some small pieces of the vessel on the seabed off the Island of Giglio; iconic pictures of a leviathan of the sea stricken as much by hubris as the rocks which tore into her hull and lives irrevocably changed.

The Ancient Skill of Parbuckling or How to Re-float the Costa Concordia


1. A rope sling for rolling cylindrical objects up or down an inclined plane.

2. A sling for raising or lowering an object vertically.

tr.v. par·buck·led, par·buck·ling, par·buck·les

To raise or lower with such a sling.



To see the concept adapted for the Costa Concordia, click on this link:

then click on each sketch for more information. There’s even something about the environmental issues.



Keep your fingers crossed!!


Dr Terry Lilley

For Those in Peril: Reflections on the Costa Concordia and Titanic

Two ships, one hundred years apart. One of which is synonymous with loss and tragedy the other, perhaps hubris. But what is the enduring appeal of such destruction, why as we approach the century of the loss of the Titanic does it still resonate. At the last count 153 books had been published on her in the last month, and the television and radio filled with items on her. Is it that she was the microcosm of society, all classes equal before impending doom? Or as it turned out, some were more equal than others. If that is so, Costa Concordia will fade from the memory only to be resurrected when, and if, she is refloated and towed to what must be her final port; or when, as seems likely, her hapless Captain is brought to trial. Surely she will not endure as the Titanic, she is too classless, too egalitarian, albeit that money bought you a better view, and yes there were more life boats and emergency dinghies.

Is that what draws back class or is it the stoicism of a bygone era played out in that dark April night, the eerie fascination with how we, or others, would or will meet our end. Some such as the engineers and those of the stokeholds, amongst many others feverishly trying to stave off the inevitable. Still more seeking to save their loved ones, with little thought for themselves. And the few the very few who sought by all means to save only themselves. Such drama did not appear to have played out on the Costa Concordia, confusion there was a plenty, the tragic yes and the comic, in the blackest of humour, with her Captain tripping and falling into a lifeboat. Perhaps it is the human which draws us back.

Or perhaps in both cases it was the idea that this could not have happened. One was, nearly unsinkable, the other equipped with every aid to navigation known to 21st century seafaring. Yet both went down so there is plenty of room for us to insert our own thoughts and theories, there is space which we can fill with imaging and hypotheses surely stronger with that ship of hundred years ago. Impending doom became reality yet and 1,500 people died. Not so aboard Costa Concordia, the flickering images of mobile phones fill the void and most, but not all, survived. But it is not just a grisly body count nor a technical ‘how to sink a ship’ which draws us again and again to such things as with the Homeric tales, the events themselves pass from verifiable fact into mythic legend. Even Titanic’s name leads itself to such, not so the Costa Concordia. To be sure many lessons were learnt after the loss of Titanic in 1912 and no doubt lessons will be learnt in 2012.  But in the end it is the Titanic story told and retold which has weaved its way into our consciousness, not so with the Costa Concordia. Perhaps that is the real tragedy that we have, or are endanger of, losing sight that in both cases lives were in peril, and in many cases lost, and myth and legend are a poor substitute for cold hard facts which might just keep seafarers and passengers alike alive.

Chris Ware, 12 April 2012