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Transportation Technology

What To Do With a 1,000 Foot Wrecked Cruise Ship? 416

Hugh Pickens writes "What do you do with a 1,000-foot wreck that's full of fuel and half-submerged on a rocky ledge in the middle of an Italian marine sanctuary? Remove it. Very carefully. Stuck on a rocky shoal off the Tuscan island of Giglio, leaving the wreck where it is probably isn't an option but removing a massive ship that's run hard aground and incurred major damage to the hull involves logistical and environmental issues that are just as large. First there's the fuel. A half a million gallons of fuel could wreak havoc on the marine ecosystem — the ship is smack in the middle of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals. Engineers may need to go in from the side using a special drill to cut through the fuel tanks in a process called hot tapping. 'You fasten a flange with a valve on it, you drill through, access the tank, pull the drill back out, close the valve, and then attach a pumping apparatus to that,' says Tim Beaver, president of the American Salvage Association. 'It's a difficult task, but it's doable.' Then if it's determined that the Costa Concordia can be saved, engineers could try to refloat the ship and tug it back to dry dock for refurbishing. The job will likely require 'a combination of barges equipped with winches and cranes' to pull the cruise liner off its side then once the Concordia is off the rocks, 'they are going to have to fight to keep it afloat, just like you would a battle-damaged ship.' Another alternative is to cut the vessel into smaller, manageable parts using a giant cutting wire coated with a material as hard as diamonds called a cheese wire in a method was used to dismember the 55,000-ton Norwegian-flagged MV Tricolor. Regardless of how the Concordia is removed, it's going to be a difficult, expensive and drawn-out process. 'I don't see it taking much less than a year, and I think it could take longer,' says Bob Umbdenstock, director of planning at Resolve Marine Group."
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What To Do With a 1,000 Foot Wrecked Cruise Ship?

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  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:10AM (#38760008) Journal

    .... it may not advance the salvage process any but hey it can't hurt. This guy was the anti-Sully [] by all accounts. I wouldn't abandon passengers in my automobile after an accident; this guy is responsible for thousands of souls and abandons them to save his own ass. Pathetic.

  • Don't forget that Captain Crunch ran the ship aground by taking a detour closer to an island where his chef was born.

  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:23AM (#38760092) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, if the accounts I read are right, the local Coast Guard had to order him back to his ship.

  • Re:Take the fuel.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:26AM (#38760126) Journal

    The problem with that is there are other toxic substances aboard a ship besides fuel. It took two years (never mind the time spent procuring approval from various interested agencies) to prepare the USS Oriskany [] as an artificial reef. It was done while she was in port, not lying on her side half submerged while subject to tidal and wave influences. A modern cruise ship probably has less toxic substances aboard than a warship built in the 1940s (the Essex class carriers used asbestos as fire insulation and PCBs in their electrical cabling) but she still isn't safe for disposal in a marine sanctuary.

    The owners may well want to salvage her for a possible return to service too. Not sure if that's feasible with the damage she absorbed (any marine engineers who care to weigh in?) but the owners doubtless want to recover their $400 million investment.

  • Re:Take the fuel.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ElementOfDestruction ( 2024308 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:31AM (#38760146)
    Rather, it's up to the insurance company; just like an auto-wreck, they're the ones who determine its ability to be salvaged. []

    Apparently there's worry that it will end up costing over US$1bn before everything is said and done.
  • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:31AM (#38760158)
    He had a perfectly reasonable explanation for that. He says he tripped and fell into a lifeboat [], and then was "stuck" there for an hour before it was lowered into the water. Now, before you say that's an unlikely explanation, imagine if the captain was Mr Bean.
  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:44AM (#38760236)

    There are crewmembers quoted in the press as stating that if the evacuation had been ordered immediately, the survival rate would have been 100%.

    The evac didn't even start until more than an hour after the collision. The bridge had been notified by the commander of the engine room that there was a 160 foot long hole in the side and that the ship could not be saved, but chose to tell passengers that it was an electrical problem and they should return to their cabins. Then the captain makes it worse by ordering a turn after taking on water, which then sloshes, tipping the boat and hindering lifeboat launch.

    They pretty much did the exact opposite of everything they should have done.

  • by RDW ( 41497 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:46AM (#38760254)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:47AM (#38760258)
    I know this is not the place to ask... but lately (say the last month) I have been given moderator points 4 times, is this normal? I like rewarding people for their comments but seems strange to be given the points soo often.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:48AM (#38760266)

    From Wikipedia:

    "Sullenberger walked the unflooded part of the passenger cabin twice to make sure everyone had evacuated before retrieving the plane's maintenance logbook and being the last to evacuate the aircraft."

    OK, what is your next lame argument?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:49AM (#38760268)

    You're ignoring the fact that, by all accounts, Sully only left the plane once he personally ascertained that no passenger had been left behind... Witness say he was the last one onto the wing after walking the length of the plane twice to make sure no one was left inside.

  • Hot Tapping (Score:5, Informative)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:49AM (#38760280)

    This is used in the pipeline industry when you need to put a new port or hole on a pipeline but don't want to shut it down.

    Here is a little video. []

  • by ray-auch ( 454705 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:51AM (#38760292)

    Wrong. And not beacuse I'm american - I'm not.

    Sully could have left the cockpit with his lifejacket and got out the front door as fast as he could before the plane sank (which it could have).
    He actually supervised the evacuation and went back through the length of the plane to check everyone was off. Twice. Before he got out.

    There's captains and there's real captains. Hero ? I think he would jsut say he was doing his job.

    The costa captain, however, was just doing a runner. Having spectacularly failed to do his job.

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:51AM (#38760298)

    Clearly the people involved in the evacuation, even without the management of a ships captain, were very capable.

    <sarcasm>Yes, this sounds like a completely capable crew.</sarcasm> Read: BBC News []

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:53AM (#38760318) Homepage

    Maybe it's worth money...

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:56AM (#38760344)

    Not really. Ship is full of fuel being half-submerged is asking for an environmental disaster. You could potentially just avoid it if it were fully submerged (not at risk of being damaged by surface waves and weather). You'd still want to get fuel out even if it was fully submerged though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:56AM (#38760346)

    I couldn't resist:

    ping-pong ball diameter: 40mm (radius: 20mm or 0.02 metres)
    ping-pong ball volume: 4/3*pi*(0.02 metres)^3 = .0000335103216m^3
    Costa Concordia displacement: 51387 tonnes (various sources give different numbers, but it's on that order, and obviously this is its displacement in a normal situation, which this isn't)

    One tonne of water is 1m^3 of volume (I love the metric system), thus the displacement is also about 51387m^3 (although if you want to get technical we're displacing seawater that has a different density from pure water, so the numbers would be a little different). That means you need about:

    51387m^3/ .0000335103216m^3 = 1 533 467 825 ping pong balls

    "Only" 1.5 billion ping pong balls, and that's floating the thing at its normal displacement. Anyone know how many ping pong balls are manufactured globally per year?

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:58AM (#38760366)

    No, the captain turned to port and sloshed the water that the ship had already taken on. That's why it rolled to starboard. It had been listing to port prior to the turn.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:00AM (#38760386)

    Commonly used for pipeline repair, it can involve welding a pipe flange to a full, even pressurised line or container of flammable liquid or gas. The trick is not to blow through the wall. The product cools the container side of the weldment. A cutter head is attached then connected to your equipment of choice. Mechanical connection of hot tap flanges is also done. [] []

    It can even be done on BURNING railroad tank cars to offload product. WaPo link in this thread no workee but the others are good. Check the procedure in the .pdf []

    Example equipment: []

    Flooding to "float" petroleum for recovery: []

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:06AM (#38760460) Journal

    possibly bygone conception of the role of a captain of a vessel.

    It's not a bygone conception; when you take charge of passengers (be you the pilot of an airline, the captain of a ship or the driver of an automobile) you are assuming responsibility for their lives. You don't abandon your post during a crisis until every last one of them is safe. I could not look at myself in the mirror if I left a passenger in my car to die and I'm not in responsible for four thousand souls.

    Clearly the people involved in the evacuation, even without the management of a ships captain, were very capable.

    Actually they weren't. The ship never sent an SOS -- the Italian Coast Guard only knew of the disaster because the ship was close enough to shore for passengers to use their cell phones. Read this op-ed []; he summarizes it far more eloquently than I can.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:20AM (#38760666) Journal

    The ship will roll wherever the water goes. It's called the free surface effect; if a ship has a hole on its port side but something is causing the entering water to slosh and collect on the starboard side, the ship will roll onto its starboard side because that's where all the weight is. (In fact I would guess it's more probable for a ship to roll onto the unholed side, just because while water can enter the holed side, it can also exit the holed side and not weigh that side down. The unholed side, though, prevents water that's sloshing over there from exiting, allowing a roll to that side to begin, which then acts as a positive feedback loop until the ship turns on its side).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:21AM (#38760682)

    The hard part on the Hudson was landing the plane. Walking the length of the unflooded part of the cabin in a slowly sinking aeroplane on a river while surrounded by rescuers is not so hard.

    The hard part with the Concordia was rescuing the survivors.

    Landing the plane on the Hudson is as rescuing the Concordia survivors.

    Even Sully's roles before the Hudson crash could have confirmed that he is a first class pilot - his landing of the plane confirmed that he's a fucking brilliant pilot. But hero? A hero goes above and beyond the call of duty and Sully did not do this. (Nor did he need to.)

    The heroes on the Hudson were the passengers and the civilians on boats who stayed around to help each other.

    A hero is not a man who does good because it is required of him. A hero is a man who is chooses to do good merely because he can.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:23AM (#38760706) Homepage Journal

    As with someone else making some comment about "90 meters deep after a storm," I don't think that's possible. I don't think you can sink this ship - it's already as sunk as it can get, at least in this spot. I get the distinct impression from the pictures that it's already sitting on the bottom, and the fact that the bottom is so shallow is part of the current problem. If the bottom had been deeper, say had the ship been taking another route, none of this would have happened.

    To "finish sinking the ship" you first have to move it to deeper water, and if you can move it at all, you may as well move it to drydock. Then you can either repair or salvage. Either way, you've first got the fuel problem.

  • Re:Patch (Score:4, Informative)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:30AM (#38760792)

    I did some rough calculations and it would take about 8 Billion Ping Pong Balls to fill it assuming there are no airtight compartments left. On Amazon you can get them for $11 per gross so that about $600 million in Ping Pong Balls.

  • by NemoinSpace ( 1118137 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:32AM (#38760822) Journal
    It's not normal to award points to an AC. If you had posted while logged in, you could have gotten credit for being moderated down for off topic, thus losing some credit. Works for me. I don't like to judge people. Ridiculing them is much more fun and adds to the liveliness of the board.
  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:44AM (#38760992)

    Part of the job of a captain is to see to the safety of the crew and passengers. He failed at that. Failing at your job alone isn't enough for ridicule. The excuses he made, however, show that he is a failure as a man (or person, if you're going to be PC about it).

    And that does deserve ridicule.

  • by Xenna ( 37238 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:44AM (#38761002)

    A salvage expert (former CEO of the leading company in that field Smit Tak) says it can't be done in the following Dutch newspaper article (google translated): []

  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:45AM (#38761032)

    ...wanted him to automatically be a *hero*

    I don't buy that. Staying on the ship in fair seas and close to shore to see passengers evacuated *is* just doing your job and is in no way being a hero. It's something I would expect him to do, if for no other reason, from the guilt of knowing he was solely responsible for the disaster in the first place.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:01AM (#38761276) Homepage

    Actually - large cruise ships *do* have two Captains... The Captain is responsible for the ship, systems. navigation, and operations. The Staff Captain runs the hotel side of things (but defers to the Captain where his responsibilities supersede).

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:06AM (#38761350)

    It's on an underwater mountainside hung up on a rock protrusion. The bow and stern are slumping, but the center is maintaining height. It's back is likely broken.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:12AM (#38761428) Homepage

    The ship's course is preprogrammed

    Yes, and no. While ships do have automatic steering and courses can be programmed in, it's not like the ship runs it's entire course from start to finish without human intervention.

    He was steering by the seat of his pants

    I.E. like all ships are when they are in anything but clear open water - and even then there are lookouts, radar operators, and helmsmen under the supervision of the Captain or a duty officer ready to intervene 24/7.

    I wonder if this is another case, like the Air France crash in the Atlantic, where automation has taken over to the point that the humans no longer have the skills to fly the plane or sail the ship and maybe they shouldn't be allowed to.

    No, it's more of a case where (at best) you've gotten mistaken information from somewhere or (at worst) you're completely unaware of how things actually work.

  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:29AM (#38761610)
    Bruce Willis already did it. []

    Sure, sure, I know... it just happened. Coulda happened to anybody. It was an accident, right? You tripped, slipped on the floor and accidentally stuck your dick in my wife. "Whoops! I'm so sorry, Mrs. H. I guess this just isn't my week."
  • by gral ( 697468 ) <> on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:41AM (#38761778) Homepage
    From what I have heard, the rest of the crew ended up being a couple of entertainers that stepped up rescue efforts and tried to calm everyone down for an orderly exit. The captain should not have left, that is a maritime (sp?) understood thing. His responses on the Coast Guard recording are cowardly, and you really have to wonder how he got the job as Captain. You can be sure that he will never have the chance again.

    I understand that the media has a tendency to vilify and expand on certain things in a story. This particular one there are recordings and other things that the public evidence seems to mounting fast.
  • by waimate ( 147056 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:55AM (#38762016) Homepage

    It actually isn't that easy to combust fuel. For example, pour a bunch of diesel into a tin pan and throw a match in, and... the match goes out. I would imagine doubly-so for bunker oil. And then there's the question of the fuel tanks having inadequate air supply.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:12PM (#38762296) Journal

    We're falling into the same 21st century...

    Okay, stop right there.

    The 20th century was the first one where captains weren't expected to go down with the ship. Prior to the late 1900's, any captain who didn't get off the ship last (after all the other passengers) was publicly labeled a coward by every official asked, and was often prosecuted for not sufficiently looking after his passengers' safety.

    The most famous shipwreck of all, RMS Titanic, had a captain (EJ Smith) who was on his last run before retirement (The White Star Line was sick of the guy bumping his ships into obstacles and other ships apparently, as he famously had done with RMS Olympic). Then ship met iceberg, Smith was indecisive for a very long time, the lifeboat loading was disorganized and haphazard for most of the incident, and when viewed even by the standards of the time, it was a general clusterfuck as far as evacuations go. OTOH, and to his credit, Smith didn't cowardly sprint for the first lifeboat and hop aboard, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves.

    That's right, folks - this guy in this recent crash is worse than the guy who captained the Titanic.

  • There is a reason why this particular ship's captain is being charged with multiple counts of manslaughter... and I think not only will those charges likely stick but that his conviction is all but assured given what I've seen and read about. That is far more of a condemnation than simply being said that they aren't a hero.

    "Showboating"? He put the lives of a great many people into very real danger as a result of his deliberate orders and actions where he displayed not only a lack of fiduciary responsibility over his ship but also a lack of even remorse over the danger that he put his own crew and chartered passengers into. Simply put, he displayed no sense of responsibility for his actions.... a responsibility that he assumed when he accepted the position of captain. There is a reason why a ship's captain wears the extra stripes, has orders that are followed, and gets higher pay as well as some other posh perks (including apparently his choice of crew to share his bed at night based on several stories being circulated): when the proverbial stuff hits the fan it is his job to make the hard choices and that he needs to be consulted when any problem comes up.

    In any navy or maritime service, having a ship run aground is always rationale to relief the captain and possibly press charges against that person. It goes with the job. They are responsible for everything that happens even if they weren't the one who was directly at the helm or even the "officer of the watch" on duty at the time. The captain "owns" the ship because in turn the ship "owns" the captain. Anything and I mean anything that happens on the ship, in the ship, or to the ship by definition is the captain's responsibility to deal with and make sure nothing awful happens.

    If a screw-up happens because a crew members either doesn't or refuses to follow orders of the captain, it is up to the captain to discipline that crew member either himself or through his subordinates, and to know who in his command he (or she) can depend upon to have those orders followed. Just because this was a civilian cruise ship rather than a military vessel doesn't make that chain of command and line of responsibility any less important. If anything because it was a civilian ship with civilian passengers the responsibility of the captain is even more critical.

    More importantly, if the reports are correct about this ship, it was his orders that had the ship moving so close to shore, and he took a very relaxed attitude toward crew and passenger safety. In this case in particular, he might as well have been the person actually at the helm "single handedly running the ship" as he had multiple opportunities to avoid the fiasco that actually unfolded. As if running the ship aground wasn't bad enough, his actions after the incident were pathetic and are cause for increased scorn. This guy wanted the perks, but none of the responsibilities.

    At least the captain of the Titanic took it like a man and tried to organize chaos to ensure the safety of his crew and passengers even if he failed ultimately. That captain also went down with his ship. This particular captain of the Costa Concordia didn't even have the guts to do that and certainly didn't put the safety of his passengers above his own.

  • by HarvardAce ( 771954 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:30PM (#38763714) Homepage
    $25M for a cruise ship? It cost 372 million pounds (or approximately $570M) to build in 2006. Aside from your order of magnitude, however, you have the right idea. It is quite probable that repairing the ship would be the most cost effective solution for the cruise line and its insurers.

    Carnival's estimated financial impact factors in recovery and repairing of the ship rather than scrapping it, currently.

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @03:52PM (#38766352)

    Nope. It went down because the co-pilot stalled it.

    Yes, there was icing on the pitot tube, which caused the left and right airspeed indicators to disagree. The computers dropped out of normal law into alternate law.

    The pilots activated anti-ice, which then cleared up the tubes, and the airspeed indicators all returned to normal. At that point, all indicators were correct.

    Then the copilot freaked out and pulled back on the stick. Because the plane was in alternate law, it did not have stall prevention. The airspeed dropped to as low as 68 knots. The pilot, relief pilot, and co-pilot (who were all in the cockpit at the time) ignored all the stall warnings that the system was throwing out. They stalled a properly functioning aircraft into the ocean.

BLISS is ignorance.