The Dutch maritime company that is removing the oil from the sunken Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, says it can refloat the huge ship and has put in a bid to do so. But the operation cannot be done cheaply.
Royal Boskalis Westminster is only one of six companies believed to have put in bids to salvage the ship. While it is not known publicly for certain, it is likely other bids entail the cheaper removal option of breaking the ship up. But Boskalis, whose subsidiary company, Smit Salvage, is currently removing the oil from the Costa Concordia, would raise the ship intact.
"You're not talking about an operation of a few dozen millions but something that goes far beyond €100 million," Peter Berdowski, chief executive of the company told the media on Thursday. "This is an operation without precedent. You have to imagine a big fat whale the size of a block of flats lying on its side, accidentally supported by two rocks."
Boskalis: Raising sunken ships from Ocean
Costa Cruises and their insurance company have not spoken of a preference as yet. If they have concerns about the feasibility of raising the ship, they may be won over by the track record of Boskalis. Boskalis was the major player in raising the Russian nuclear sub 'Kursk' in 2000 and in 1988 raised the British ferry, 'Herald of Free Enterprise' after it had sunk, killing 193 (it was later scraped).
Only after Smit Salvage has completed removing the oil from the ship can the removal of the ship itself begin; Smit has already removed the heavy oil and are weeks away from completing the project. The ship has sat there half-submerged on rocks since the disaster on Jan. 13 and residents and officials of the Italian island of Giglio have expressed dismay at having her off-shore so a decision on who will remove her may come soon.
The Costa Concordia is 290 metres long and 36 metres wide and has a gross tonnage of 114,500 tonnes. It's expected to take 10-12 months to remove the ship.