The Concordia refloating operation has started informs the 'Parbuckling Project' web site. At 6 am Monday, the Senior Salvage Master, Nick Sloane, reached the Remote Operations Center located on the Concordia with the rest of the team, having been given the green light by the Italian authorities on Saturday. The salvors add that the Concordia will be refloated of [sic] about 2 meters and then towed 30 meters to the East.
Workers are slowly lifting the vessel by pumping air into tanks attached to the ship.
The wreck was hauled upright in September but is still partially submerged, resting on six steel platforms.
On Saturday Reuters reported that the operation to raise the 290-metre hulk from underwater platforms next to the Italian island of Giglio where it sank, killing 32 people, should take six or seven days, the group organising the removal said.
The refloating will go ahead if the summer weather remains calm, and then the Concordia, which is around two and a half times the size of the Titanic, is due to be towed to the northern port of Genoa to be scrapped.
The government's Civil Protection Department said that documentation submitted for the refloat was "valid", allowing it "to give the go-ahead for the operation to refloat the Concordia".
The defunct luxury liner is due to depart Giglio on July 21, two and a half years after it struck a reef while performing a display manoeuvre to move close to shore and "salute" the port.
Residents of the tiny island, which depends on tourism, hope this stage in the salvage will repeat the success of a complex "parbuckling" operation which stabilised the wreck last year.
"I am happy they are taking it away because to see a ship like that always there, with the deaths that happened, it gives us the shivers," said ferry worker Italo Arienti.
Paying for the disaster, including breaking up the vessel and repairing damage to Giglio, is likely to cost the ship's owner and operator Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp , more than 1.5 billion euros ($20.46 billion), its chief executive said last week.
($1 = 0.7331 Euros)
By Antonio Denti – Reuters/George Backwell – MarineLink