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Here's how the Costa Concordia wreck is being removed

Workers have to undergo a four-day mountain climbing course before starting the job to equip themselves for the dangerous conditions.

Image: The Parbuckling Project

IT’S BEEN MORE than a year since the cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a reef off the shore of Isola del Giglio, in the Mediterranean, leading to a wreck that cost 30 passengers their lives.

Yet the enormous ship is still sitting off the Italian coast, mostly submerged, in the middle of a nationally protected marine park and coral reef.

The ingenious salvage operation —called the “Parbuckling Project” — involves building a series of underwater platforms onto which the Costa Concordia will be lifted upright (parbuckled), then floated up and towed away.

It is now fully underway: The underwater platform has been partly installed, and more than a third of the floatation devices that will hopefully lift the ship out of the sea have been filled and put in position.

These photos reveal how the salvage operation — the riskiest, most complicated, and most expensive ever undertaken — is going so far.

Here's how the Costa Concordia wreck is being removed
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  • Work on the operation goes on 24/7

  • It's a race against time

    The ship is currently held in place by steel cables, but it could be dislodged by a strong storm. If it sinks, salvaging it would be nearly impossible.
  • One of the underwater platforms which will support ship when it's upright

  • Platform number 4 will be installed by early March

    All of the steel used in the platforms will weigh three times as much, in total, as the Eiffel Tower.
  • Platforms are embedded in holes drilled in seafloor

  • Drill bit is enclosed in large tube to keep debris from contaminating site

  • Anchor block for platform is lowered to seafloor

  • A grout bag, to be filled with sand and cement, provides support

    Around 200 of these bags are already in place under the hull to provide extra support.
  • The funnel is to be removed to make working on board easier

  • 111 salvage divers work in 45-minute shifts around the clock

  • They live in these floating barracks, next to the wreck

  • All workers have to take a four-day mountain climbing course

  • Workers use these anchors to keep from falling into water

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All images The Parbuckling Project>

- Alex Davies

Who gets to keep goods salvaged from ships – and at what risk?>
Photos: One year later, Costa Concordia still removed from scene of disaster>

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