Costa Concordia cruise ship, which sank two years ago off the Italian coast, could be broken up for scrap by a British company
The Costa Concordia could be towed to a British port to be broken up for scrap, it has been announced.
The revelation came on the cusp of the second anniversary of the cruise ship’s capsizing – it rammed into rocks off the Italian island of Giglio on the night of Jan 13, 2012, after its skipper, Capt Francesco Schettino, miscalculated a sail-past intended to impress passengers and crew.
Able UK Ltd, which is based in Teesside, hopes to win the multi-million pound contract to break up the giant cruise liner for scrap metal.
It is one of 12 firms from six different countries that have put in bids to demolish the Concordia, which is bigger than the Titanic and was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when it crashed into a granite outcrop close to Giglio’s shore.
The work would be carried out at Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool on the River Tees, where the French aircraft carrier Le Clemenceau was dismantled between 2009 and 2010.
The facility boasts one of the world’s largest dry docks.
“The project would employ around 100 people,” Neil Etherington, a director of the company, told The Telegraph. “We have a lot of experience in decommissioning and dismantling vessels and oil rigs.”
The 950ft-long Concordia, which was hauled upright in September after months of painstaking preparation work, is due to be refloated and towed away from the island by the end of June, just before the summer holiday season gets underway.
It will then be taken to a port for dismantlement, a process likely to take around two years.
Four Italian ports have put in bids for the job – Genoa, Palermo in Sicily, Civitavecchia north of Rome and Piombino in Tuscany.
Ports in Turkey, China, Norway and France (Marseille) have also put in bids for the contract, along with Able UK Ltd.
The Italian government is studying the bids along with Costa Cruises, the Genoa-based company that owns the Concordia, and will make a decision in February or March.
Italy is desperate to secure the contract in order to bring much-needed work to its ports and to salvage a degree of national pride.
“The government would certainly prefer the contract to be awarded to an Italian port,” Andrea Orlando, the environment minister, told a press conference in Rome.
Should the work be awarded to a foreign port, it would be regarded as a national humiliation and a political and commercial failure.
Italian ports would be favourably viewed, said Michael Thamm, the chief executive officer of Costa Cruises.
“I would be very happy to see the contract go to an Italian port, be it Genoa or Piombino or wherever. Costa runs global operations but we are part of the Italian economy too and we feel at home here. But at the end of the day it’s dependent on the bids. Certainly we have a preference for countries in the OECD, and within that countries in the European Union.”
He said the salvage and removal of the 114,500 tonne Concordia was “an unprecedented undertaking – a salvage project like this has never happened before in marine history.”
The company had already spent 600 million euros on the salvage effort. “It was our ship, it was our captain who caused the problem, so we will solve the problem. We’ll maintain our ownership until the very last minute.”
Capt Schettino is on trial in the city of Grosseto, Tuscany, for abandoning ship and multiple counts of manslaughter. The trial resumes on Monday.
Nick Squires, Rome