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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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  • Take the fuel.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:16AM (#38760038)

    Then set it up as an artificial reef, and have businesses set up to get divers to it. Not sure the decontamination would pay off in the near term, but it'd be an interesting option.

  • Patch (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Polybius ( 743489 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:18AM (#38760050)

    Plan A:
    1) Pump all the fuel out of it.
    2) If there is a hole in the down side of the hull patch it from the inside.
    3) Patch any holes on the top side of the hull.
    4) Get as many pumps as possible pulling water out of the thing. while you gradually inflate large air bags under it.
    5) Ship pops back up, tug it anywhere you want.

    Plan B:
    Hundreds of millions of ping pong balls.

  • Another idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:24AM (#38760100)

    Right the ship, drain the fuel and leave it there. You only have to stop it from sinking, you don't need to make it seaworthy. There you have it, a top-notch hotel in a prime location with every facility you could possibly need.

    Just try not to think of the people that died there. People die in hotels all the time, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:27AM (#38760130)

    Can't they just burn it? Can't they just drill a hole in the tanks and throw in a match to burn it? Then they can just wait until the fire goes out and it's all safe! If it takes too long for the fire to go out they can just spray sea water on it to put it out.

  • by lemur3 ( 997863 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:39AM (#38760210)

    Despite the actions of the captain the odds of surviving this incident were about 99.2%

    If he had gone down with the ship I have to wonder if it could possibly get any better than a 99% survival rate.

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

    While responsibility for the ship and the passengers remains on his shoulders of the captain I wonder if the idea of the captain going down with the ship has become a bit antiquated.

    Considering the dramatic success of the apparently well trained and well drilled crew in getting the staggering majority of people off of the boat safely it seems to me that a captain urging them on is, at least in this case, a frivolity and a hearken back to a possibly bygone conception of the role of a captain of a vessel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:23AM (#38760702)

    A captain should not go down with his ship, but he and three other high ranking officers were in one of the first lifeboats that abandonned ship. Even if you cannot stay on the ship, because there is simply too dangerous or ineffective to stay, you still need to be in the vincinity, to coordinate the resque operation, together with the Coast Guard. The captain should know his ship and he should be able to give instructions to the coast guard and his crew to help the resque operation. This guy even ordered a meal at one of the restaurants on the ship after he drove his ship against the wall. Afterwards, he lied to the Coast Guard twice, they ordered him back to the ship, he told him he would do so, but instead ordered a taxi...

    From what I've read, the videos that were published and the comments of many survivors, the crew was all but well organized. Maybe, because they also lacked some clear orders. They only started evacuating hours after the initial accident, probably even without a real evacuation order. They even didn't send any kind of emergency signal to the coast guard. The coast guard apparantly got informed by a scared passenger, not by the captain.

    In fact, if the captain and the higher ranking officials would have called all passengers and crew on board to the higher decks and start evacuating the vessel within an hour or so after the innitial accident, nobody would have died and probably noone would even have been seriously injured.

    The relatively high survival rate here is primarily due to the fact that the accident occured close to shore and the up-to-date emergency equipment on-board, combined by a few that actually took their responsibility. Because of the size of the ship and the dramatic looks of the wreck and the renewed interrest due to the 100th anniversary, it is often compared with the HMS Titanic. I guess if the same officers that commandeered this vessel would've commandeered the Titanic, nobody would have survived. Also, I guess that, if this same captain would have an iceberg collision at high sea, the death toll would be in the hundreds or more...

    Back to the main topic. Like most people around here, I'm not a salvaging expert, but I guess that dissecting such a large vessel in it's current unstable position, will be extremely costly and very dangerous. Also, by cutting into it, you will probably expose more of its innards to the fragile ecosystem around it. The large damaged part in the bow seems to be exposed. So I guess, after you pumped out the fuel and god rid of all the loose stuff that's easily accessible, you could just temporarily seal it, either by welding something over it or by injecting some kind of foam into it and then refloat the wreck and tow it back to a shipyard.

  • MV Tricolor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BeardedChimp ( 1416531 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:47AM (#38761056)
    I found some interesting pictures [] of the MV Tricolor. I tried to find a video of the cutting process in action but failed. Does anyone know how this "cheese wire" actually works?
  • by error 303 ( 1289340 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:08AM (#38761388)
    The dude ordered dinner for himself and his mistress an hour after he ran the ship aground. [] It's not that he failed to live up to hero status. The dude was flat out incompetent.
  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:52AM (#38761962)

    He failed to see to their safety, however. And did I mention he was the one responsible for steering the boat into the shore? No? Because he totally was. He was steering the boat when that happened. He was literally the cause of the accident. And then he ran away. Making a mistake I can understand: but when you do, you admit it. You don't try to run away, conceal it and even make yourself out to be a hero (which he also tried, claiming his cowardly actions "saved lives").

    Had he stayed, it is possible no one else would have been saved. He may even have died (doubtful, but possible). He still should have done it.

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:53AM (#38761980) Journal

    I know, I know, at first blush, it sounds insane - Nuclear Reactors in a *passenger* vessel? Wouldn't that be a worse environmental disaster in a shipwreck?

    But, there's a guy named Rod Adams who started a company (which he had to shutdown a few years ago because of lack of investor confidence) who proposed using small, nitrogen cooled pebble bed reactors in cargo and cruise ships.

    Pebble Beds actually have several advantages over anything else I've ever heard of for maritime propulsion:

    * They are melt-down proof. They simply can't melt down.
    * They are very, very unlikely to set on fire (they are made from a special grade of graphite which needs to reach insanely high temperatures to set on fire - temperatures which the pebbles physically *cannot achieve* from fission.

    *The fuel "pebbles" have further containment - the fuel itself is contained in many small 'particles' embedded within the graphite sphere, where the uranium fuel itself is encased in fireproof silicon carbide, inside the graphite.

    Worst case scenario: The ship loses some or all pebbles in the water. Water is a great radiation shield - a few meters of water will stop all radiation. So, in essences, you have some fairly hot (temperature-wise) "pool balls" on the seabed, heating up some of the nearby water a few degrees. The actual radioactive material is so contained it will not leak out into the surrounding water.

    Much, *much* better than the petroleum fuels currently used in cargo and cruise ships. Plus, the ship would only need to be refueled once every few years, and the fuel would be a lot cheaper than the many millions of tons of petroleum fuel these ships currently consume over time.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:50PM (#38767216)

    So what's with the bimbo who's sticking up for him, anyway?

    As for being unqualified, somehow this doesn't surprise me. This is Carnival Cruise Lines, after all. It's the cruise line that's exclusively for drunks and cocaine users.

    I went on a cruise a few years ago in the Caribbean. While on shore in Belize, we hired a private driver for the day to drive us around and show us stuff. Very interesting character, even took us to his home, where we met his wife. Anyway, he made the comment that people from the cruise ships frequently want him to get them drugs, but that they aren't all the same, and it differs by cruise line. He said most people, of course, want marijuana, but that for some reason, the people from Carnival usually want cocaine.

    Just before I left, my own boss, who had just come back from a cruise his family made him go on (it was some kind of big family reunion), which was on a Carnival ship, made the comment, "what about all the drunks?", knowing that I'm not a drinker. Apparently his ship was full of sloppy drunks. On my cruise ship, I never met a single one. Why? I can only surmise that it was because of our choice of cruise line: we were on a Norwegian cruise. Even better, about 40% of the guests were Germans. Everyone on that ship was very well-behaved, unlike everything I've heard about Carnival cruises with American guests.

    It's not just Norwegian, however: my wife had previously taken a cruise (California/Mexico west coast) with Royal Caribbean, and said it was pretty similar; all the guests were well-behaved there too. Finally, my wife has an ex-friend who's a giant drinker, thinks the only way to have fun is to get totally drunk, and loves to go on cruises. Her cruise line of choice? Carnival.

    So from my limited anecdotal data, it seems that Carnival, at least here in the Americas, attracts a very bad crowd. With a clientele like that, I can see how they'd cut corners in their staffing too.

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