Lots of people thought that once the Costa Concordia was finally brought back from the dead and uprighted in Giglio, the cruise ship would be hauled off into the Italian sunset and taken to a scrapyard for dismantling.
That's not going to happen anytime soon. As much as we all hope and dream that this cursed cruise ship would simply vanish from our collective sight, unfortunately life is not as simple as this.
Here's what lies ahead:
More Salvage Work: The cruise ship will be secured so that it does not sink or topple over due to the rough weather of the upcoming winter. As you can see from the photo to the right. the hull of the Concordia is warped and mangled and needs to be stabilized and reinforced. Remember, the plan is to tow the cruise ship away. Given the cruise ship's screwed-up condition, that's not going to happen anytime soon. The consensus seems to be that work on the ship will continue until next spring. Yes, the salvage costs will exceed the $800,000,000 or so spent so far. Expect the final salvage tally to be over $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion).
Police Will Investigate the Crime Scene: There are two bodies of the dead which remain in the ship. There can be no closure until the bodies of cruise passenger, Maria Trecarichi, and Costa crew member, Russel Rebello, have been located in the ship. Engineers are popping champagne corks in the local bars in Giglio and drinking whiskey and beer after the technological & engineering success of righting the cruise beast. I say abate the party until the dead are recovered and the families are notified.
Personal Effects Will Be Gathered: There are reportedly some 1,500 cabin safes which need to be accessed. Jewelry and any salvageable personal effects need to be returned to the owners.
The Ship Needs to be Floated Way: At this point, the salvors will leave the cruise ship on the multiple underwater platforms. The ship will not be floated until later next year when weather permits. You will see the Concordia at the port in Giglio for at least another 6 of 7 months. Yes, expect another highly reported over-the-top media event when the ship is finally hauled away next year.
Criminal Trial: The criminal trial against Captain Schettino will start again soon. The fun of raising the ship is over. Now the dirty work of placing the noose around the neck of the already convicted-in-the-media Captain Coward to hold him responsible for the deaths and suffering must go forward.
The Cruise Lines PR War Will Continue: The cruise industry will continue to say that his was a "freak accident" whereas the students of history and safety advocates will say that more accidents, deaths and mayhem will continue given the priorities of the cruise lines. Choose your side.
Contentious Litigation: A representative of Costa states that the cruise line intends to leave the environment around Giglio in a "pristine" condition similar to that what existed before the dreadful shipwreck. If that means that the salvage costs and environmental costs exceed one billion dollars and the applicable insurance proceeds are exhausted and corporate money is spent, so be it claims Costa before the cameras and reporters. Protecting the environment and restoring it to its original condition is paramount according to the cruise line's PR team.
Unfortunately, the cruise line has exactly the opposite attitude toward the passengers and crew members it traumatized. Costa offered $14,600, take it or leave it, to its guests (not crew) for all of their belongings, clothes, electronics, and personal effects, and their pain and suffering and mental anguish, due to the horrifying events surrounding the Concordia's capsizing. Do you think that restoring the passengers and crew to their original, pre-shipwreck, "pristine" condition is a goal of Costa? Hardly.
Over a billion $ for the cruise ship salvage but pennies for the dead and suffering. Costa / Carnival and their Miami attorneys are primed and ready to continue the dog fight against the victims.
It won't be pretty when the cameras are off and the reporters covering the exciting salvage efforts have gone home.
Photo Credit: Claudio Giovannini