Costa Concordia floating again, ready to be scrapped

GIGLIO, Italy (CBS) -- The mangled cruise ship Costa Concordia is floating again with some hi-tech help more than two years after the ship ran aground killing 32 people.

It's the biggest salvage operation ever attempted, and one of the most risky. The ship has been sitting upright on an underwater steel platform since last September.

Before that she had been lying on her side where she'd been grounded after hitting a rock while passing too close to the Italian island of Giglio and where 32-people died on the night of the accident. It took an unprecedented operation - what the salvagers call a parbuckling, to roll the ship over into a position where she can be refloated. But the engineering required to do that is impressive as well.

An array of metal flotation chambers, thirty of them, have been attached along the sides of the ship. They're full of water now but are being pumped out so they can act as giant water wings and lift the Concordia. But it's never a simple as it sounds. The scale of the project is huge; the floatation chambers are the size of buildings.

And only when the ship starts to life will the engineers be sure she still has the structural integrity to hold together under the strain. Nick Sloane, directing the operation, said "Hopefully we have thought of everything, but there's always something you haven't thought about which will raise its head."

The plan is to tow the ship to Genoa, in northern Italy, where she'll be broken up for scrap. But even that is a risky operation.

And there's still a good week's work here before they get to that point.

The Captain of the Costa Condordia, Francesco Schettino, is still on trial for his role in the disaster. He's accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship.


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