Video: The Story Of The Costa Concordia

Video: The Story Of The Costa Concordia

The Costa Concordia

Last updated on April 12th, 2021 at 06:16 pm

On the evening of January 13th, 2012, the cruise industry was forever changed after the modern, family cruise ship, the Costa Concordia collided with rocks and sank off the coast of Italy.

The thought of modern cruise ships, catering to families and couples on a romantic Mediterranean getaway, would be able to sink like she did, is truly unfathomable.

When the 114,137 gross tonnage (GT) Costa Concordia and her sister ships entered service, they were among the largest ships built in Italy until the construction of the 130,000 GT Dream-class cruise ships.

Let’s break down what happened from start to finish and check out the true story of modern histories most famous ship disaster.

Costa Concordia was ordered in 2004 by Carnival Corporation from Fincantieri and built in the Sestri Ponente yard in Genoa, as yard number 6122. At the vessel’s launch at Sestri Ponente on 2 September 2005, the champagne bottle, released by model Eva Herzigová, failed to break when swung against the hull the first time, an inauspicious omen in maritime superstition.

The ship was delivered to Costa on 30 June 2006. It cost €450 million (£372 million, US$570 million) to build. The name Concordia was intended to express the wish for “continuing harmony, unity, and peace between European nations.”

Captaining the vessel since its 2006 launch was Francesco Schettino, an Italian man who had been working for Costa since 2002. The Concordia began cruises catering to the Italian market sailing mostly in the Mediterranean, she continued with regular cruises carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers until early 2012 when a January night changed cruising forever.

The Costa Concordia was on a 7-day Mediterranean cruise, she arrived in Civitavecchia, Lazio, Italy, on January 13, 2012, by sunset the Costa Concordia had set sail on its way to Savona. The official course charted took the vessel directly down the center between Italy’s mainland and the island of Giglio, however deviation was made on the official route to take the vessel much closer to the island to perform what is known as sail-by salute. This was a deliberate action to take the ship relatively close offshore to give passengers a unique view of the island and also as a nod to fellow sailors on land. This isn’t really a new thing for cruise ships nor is it new for the Costa Concordia which had performed this maneuver several times before even for the island of Giglio.

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As night falls, the vessel is making its deviation course towards the island of Giglio. On the bridge deck officers are guiding the ship as Captain Schettino is eating dinner. The officers on the bridge are instructed to keep at least 1500 feet away from the island as that was the determined safe distance. By 2140 LT, the Costa Concordia is moving at 15 knots and is about to make its turn for the island.

The Captain returns to the bridge along with his mistress (We will talk about that a little later), however there was a miscommunication between the Captain and the officer on duty on what the correct turning course should be. Because of the incorrect heading numbers the turning radius of the ship to sail alongside the island was much wider than it should have been which brought the colossal ship more closer to the shore than it was supposed to be. Captain Schettino immediately ordered 20 degrees starboard. Seconds later at 2144 LT, the port side of the ship collides with underwater rocks creating a 60 meters gash in the hull breaching several watertight compartments. The Concordia immediately lost power in its generators and full propulsion.

Panic ensued in the main dining rooms where passengers had been eating as the ship’s emergency generators kicked in. By 2151 LT, an announcement was made to passengers ensuring the situation had been under control and that technicians were working on fixing the problem.

However moments later the bridge was informed that three compartments had been breached, and the water has reached the main electrical panel. This was communicated to Costa Cruise lines crisis center via Captain Schettino minutesn later. By 2207 LT, the harbour contacts the Concordia, however the ship claims that the situation is only of blackout’s and they have the situation under control.

During this time the deputy Chief Engineer meets with the officers on the bridge to inform them that the flooding has appeared to reach compartments 4,5,6, and 7. At this point the ship is starting to list as water fills the watertight compartments and the passengers are making their way down to deck 4 where the lifeboats are located.

Captain Schettino did make the decision to let the ship drift into shallow water where at worst case the vessel would rest on the seabed. However, ship’s pumps failed, the flooding worsened as to the ship’s listing. Even at this time neither the Captain nor the Costa cruise lines contacted anyone for help. However as the situation below decks worsened and as passengers climbed into lifeboat themselves, finally at 2235 LT the bridge calls for an abandon ship and the emergency alarm is sounded.

There are currently 4229 people aboard the Costa Concordia. By now all the passengers and crew are making their way down to deck 4 and crowding around the lifeboats as one by one are launched. At 2300 LT, the ship is now listing on its starboard side more than 25 degrees. By this point any hope of the vessel being saved was gone and as lifeboats continue to launch, the list continued to worsen. By now majority of the bridge officers had left their positions including Captain Schettino and by 2330 LT, the Costa Concordia’s bridge had been abandoned.

As water reached deck 4, the sinking of the ship accelerated as listing got to the point where lifeboats being launched from the port side was impossible. 80 people remained on the ship ascending down the side of the hull by a rope ladder where rescue boats by the coast guard were waiting. Captain Schettino however had already returned to the shore where the coast guard began demanding him to return to the vessel, he never did.

The coast guard continued to rescue people still clinging to the side of the ship as most residents living on the island of Giglio welcomed the stranded passengers into their homes. Because the way the Costa Concordia drifted on the shore, the vessel rested on the shoreline rocks at around an 80 degree angle with its starboard side completely submerged. By 0617 LT, rescue operations concluded and the rising sun revealed the true extent of the disaster.

Since the vessel partially capsized on its starboard side, the gaping hole on the port side showed just how severe the impact was, daylight also revealed that three of the ship’s port side lifeboats were never able to be launched which is why so many people were left aboard the ship.

As a result of the capsizing 32 people have been killed, 27 of whom had been passengers and 5 being crew members, almost all of which had been trapped below as water rushed into the ship. Bodies were recovered mostly on the lower decks indicating people were trapped inside the vessel as it capsized. In the atrium elevators, 4 bodies had been discovered trapped inside as well as another 9 bodies trapped in two other elevators.

Soon after the wreck, Carnival and their insurance company had deemed the vessel a total loss as damages had exceeded 500 million dollars. Oil and fuel had been extracted as salvage crews began working on removing the wreck. However removing a 114000 ton half submerged cruise ship proved to be a pretty daunting task. The plan was to place a steel structure under the Concordia and turn it upright. Massive buoyancy tanks were welded to the ship’s port side and on September 16 2013 the Costa Concordia was turned upright, resting on the underwater platform. Turning the vessel upright showed just how unbelievably heavy the ship was. Buoyancy tanks were fitted to the ship’s starboard side and the Concordia was slowly lifted off its platform now freely floating. On July 14, the vessel was towed on its final voyage to the Italian port of Genova, where the ship was completely gutted. By July 2017, the Concordia was completely dismantled and sold for scrap metal. The total cost of the salvage operation was 1.2 billion dollars.

Following the disaster the search to find who is responsible concluded with 6 arrests and prosecutions. Several of Concordia’s First officers were given jail sentences, most being under 2 years. Costa cruise lines crisis director who Captain Schettino had been contacting during the events had been given the longest sentence of the five with 2 years and 10 months.

As for Captain Francesco Schettino himself, well his story was sketchy to say the least. He claimed that during the ordeal he had been coordinating the rescue when he had slipped and stumbled into a lifeboat due to the listing of the ship. A video later emerged of what appeared to be Captain Schettino calmly standing at the railing on deck waiting to board a lifeboat, though he claimed that it was not him. It was also later revealed that he had been having an affair with a woman that he brought aboard the Concordia with no tickets. She by the way was taken to the bridge of the vessel (as we mentioned earlier) when all of this happened. However he assured that she did not affect the disaster. He also claimed that he should not be responsible for the deaths of the 32 people aboard as they were not killed as a result of the initial impact and instead by the sinking.

The only good thing Captain Schettino did was to make the decision to deliberately ground the ship so it wouldn’t fully sink. If the Concordia sank about 700 feet where it eventually did, the entire vessel would have likely went and it’s possible that many more people would have been killed. Schettino was charged for manslaughter, causing shipwreck, and abandoning passengers. He was given a 16 year jail sentence which he is currently serving. 

Here is the complete story of the Costa Concordia Disaster:

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