UK & World News
Costa Concordia Could Be Towed To A British Port
The team leading the Costa Concordia salvage operation has revealed they will begin removing the stricken cruise liner from near the Italian island of Giglio in June - before it is demolished later this year.
Exactly where the wreck will be towed to and destroyed has not yet been decided, but some 12 ports are in contention including ABLE Seaton Port, south of Seaton Carew, among others in Italy, Norway, Turkey, France and the Netherlands.
The British firm told Sky News: "ABLE UK Limited can confirm that it is in a tender process regarding the potential recycling of the Costa Concordia at its Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling facility (TERRC) at Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool on the River Tees.
"TERRC was of course the yard selected by both the French and US Governments to recycle the former French aircraft carrier, Le Clemenceau and vessels from the US MARAD fleet respectively.
"The facility, including one of the world's largest dry docks, has full planning permissions and environmental accreditations to undertake this type of activity. The previous contracts were completed in October 2010 and employed over 100 personnel."
The job of dismantling and recycling the vessel has been put out to tender which is being overseen by London Offshore Consultants.
It is hoped the salvage team will have made a decision on the ship's final destination by early March.
Italian environment minister Andrea Orlando and experts disclosed the details of the next phase of the mammoth operation at a news conference in Rome - three days before the second anniversary of the tragedy.
The 114,000-ton ship was hauled upright from its partially submerged position in September last year in a complicated 19-hour operation.
More than 1,000 concrete stacks and six underwater platforms are being used to keep the vessel stable.
It is expected to be towed away from the Mediterranean holiday island by the summer and eventually broken up for scrap.
Franco Porcellacchia, who is in charge of removing the wreck, said: "We will start fitting in the systems and equipment that are needed to enable us to remove the ship from mid-April. It is a very complicated operation.
"If there are no unexpected events the whole operation will be completed by the end of June, probably by the middle of June.
"Then we will have to make the wreck float again, and this will take about seven to 10 days, so our reasonable goal is to refloat the wreck by the end of June."
Michael Thamm, chief executive officer of Costa Cruises, said: "We are very confident that we can remove this ship within the month of June. This is not very far away - and then a great job will be done."
He said the company would maintain ownership of the vessel "until the very last moment", until the wreck is demolished later this year.
The full cost of the completed salvage operation was expected to reach around ?600m (£497m), he added.
Cabin owners of the safes recovered from the wreck are to be contacted soon and their contents returned to them.
The seven-day Mediterranean cruise turned to tragedy just hours after the vessel, packed with more than 4,000 passengers and crew had left the port of Civitavecchia on January 13, 2012.
The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for alleged manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship during a confused and delayed evacuation.
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