Costa Concordia Finally Pulled Upright

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Costa CruisesRoughly a year and half after the greatest cruise ship tragedy since the Titanic, finally a glimmer of good news comes from the coast of Giglio, Italy.

The Costa Concordia capsizing tragedy has gone down in history as one of the most tragic cruise ship accidents of all time. The vessel partially sank off the coast of Giglio, Italy back in January, 2012 after the captain, Francesco Schettino, ordered a last minute change to the ship’s itinerary in order to perform a salute, a maneuver that brings a ship close to shore. The move was intended to display the Concordia’s full glory, but instead, the vessel crashed into a giant rock and capsized.

Since last year, the Concordia has remained underwater with cruise officials attempting over and over again to pull it out of the wreckage. Yesterday, after 19 long hours, crews in Giglio were finally able to pull the crippled Costa Concordia upright. But while the ship may have just resurfaced from the depths of its watery grave, the memories of the tragic cruise ship accident were never forgotten.

A total of 32 people were killed in the accident last year and Capt. Schettino has yet to face trial for abandoning ship and manslaughter charges. Though several other crew members were also charged for their role in the accident, they were all given leniency in court, much to the dismay of our cruise ship lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. and the victims and families of those who perished in the crash.

Our lawyers are presently representing dozens of those injured passengers and crewmembers on that fateful voyage.  The majority of the claims were required to be litigated in Italy, and unfortunately, due to the dramatic differences in the Italian versus United States’ legal systems, it appears that these lawsuits will take many years to resolve. Fortunately, our motto at the firm is  “never, never, never give up.”  Thus, no matter how long it takes, we will continue to work towards justice for all those harmed that tragic night.

For over a year and a half, the crippled Concordia has served as a chilling reminder of all that went wrong on that fateful day in January. Hopefully now that the vessel has been pulled upright, it will finally be removed from the waters and victims will have the chance to finally move on from the nightmare.

The vessel reached vertical just after 4 a.m. Monday morning and the feat was celebrated with the sound of a foghorn wailing across Giglio. The operation, known as parbuckling, was a success, according to project manager Franco Porcellacchia.

So far, no oil spills have been detected. The threat of a spill on the environment was a huge concern for both Costa Crociere SpA, the owner of the Concordia, and for officials in Giglio. The presence of large cruise ships has already been frowned upon in Venice, with government leaders and activists arguing on the potential for danger not just regarding cruise ship accidents, but with any kind of oil spill or erosion caused by the massive vessels.

It can take weeks or even months to clean up a giant oil spill, and despite the fact that the Concordia had been partially submerged for nearly two years, the sheer undertaking alone of getting the vessel upright could potentially lead to a leak.

The parbuckling operation had been postponed for some time because of the threat of an oil spill and due to unfavorable weather conditions. It was originally expected to last no more than 12 hours, but was  delayed due to issues with the cable systems and pulleys.  Though parbuckling is a standard nautical operation to right vessels that have capsized, the process had never before been attempted on a vessel as large as the Concordia.

So what’s in store for the Concordia now? The ship is expected to be towed away and scrapped in the spring, but cruise officials might just save the wreckage for historical display.

In the meantime, the upright position of the Concordia will allow investigators to take a closer look at the initial gash that led to the vessel’s capsizing. According to Porcellacchia, the starboard side of the ship, which was the side that struck the rock, “looks pretty bad.” Perhaps a closer look at the wreckage will lead to further charges for the Concordia crew.

The ship must also be prepared to endure the grueling winter that awaits it. With high seas and gusts expected this winter season, crews are going to have to do some extensive work on the disabled vessel to make sure it doesn’t fall apart in the event of a storm.  Crews have already constructed an artificial platform on the seabed to support the ship, but hopefully it will be enough to steady the vessel and hold its weight now that it has been righted.

Just like the vessel itself, it sadly appears as though the victims of this tragic incident have much left to endure as well.