Updated: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 14:38:50 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Raising Italy's Concordia: A feat of maritime salvage

The operation to raise the wreck of Italy's Costa Concordia cruise ship due to begin on Monday is the biggest salvage project of its kind ever attempted.


Here is a possible timeline for the operation to rotate the 114,500-ton hulk on the Italian island of Giglio, as well as some technical details:

Sunday: Italy's civil protection agency gives a final go-ahead at around 1200 GMT for the salvage to begin the following day if the weather forecast allows.

Sunday evening: Salvage workers begin tightening the metal cables that will hoist the Costa Concordia into an upright position on Monday.

Monday, 0400 GMT: A last ferry leaves Giglio with residents who work on the mainland before a strict maritime exclusion zone is put in place.

The cables are tightened further until the ship slowly lifts off the reef -- a "point of no return" when salvage operators say the hull will inevitably begin buckling.

Monday, 0800 or 0900 GMT: The ship reaches an angle of 40 degrees from the vertical, the cables begin tightening and gravity starts dragging it upright.

Monday, 1600 GMT: The "parbuckling" -- the rotation of the 114,500-ton ship into a vertical position -- is set to be completed around this time at the latest.

Facts and figures:

Size of ship: The Costa Concordia is 290 metres (951 feet) long -- the equivalent of nearly three football fields -- and 57 metres high, or an 11-story building.

Scale of project: Five hundred salvage workers from 26 countries, including 120 divers, have taken part in the salvage.

Hull stability: The ship is currently lying on its side, 65 degrees from the vertical axis -- 90 degrees would be horizontal -- and has had 1,200 sacks of cement placed underneath it to stabilise it.

Tanks: Eleven giant steel tanks have been welded onto the exposed side of the ship, which will stabilise it during the rotation and eventually help float it away.

More tanks or "sponsons" will be fixed to the side that is currently under water once the ship is upright. The towing away is expected only next year.

Cables: There are 56 cables fixed to the ship, including 22 keeping it from slipping further out to sea. Each cable is 58 metres long and weighs about 26 tons.

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