City ship in 'largest ever' Costa salvage op

Jan 24, 2013, 06:53 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

In a $400-mn manoeuvre, Malaviya Twenty, a multipurpose vessel, helps recover the semi-sunken Italian liner from waters off the Tuscan coast

A Mumbai vessel has been enlisted to salvage the shipwreck of Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise liner that ran aground near Giglio Island, off the Tuscan coast in Italy a year ago. A 2004-built multipurpose offshore vessel from Mumbai, Malaviya Twenty, set sail for Italy in October last year to facilitate the costly operation, said to be the largest ever in the history of cruise liners across the world.

Malviya Twenty will ferry cargo to and from the site of the Costa disaster near Giglio Island off Tuscany, Italy

The shipwreck on January 13, 2012, compared to the Titanic’s in scale, had sparked widespread interest in the country because of a number of Indians working aboard the ship, including Mumbai’s Russel Rebello, who has been missing ever since the calamity. The contract for hauling the Costa was awarded in May 2012 to M/s Titan Salvage, in partnership with Italian firm Micoperi. According to shipping industry sources, Malavyia Twenty, which has been operating in the North Sea on international waters, was diverted to Italy in October 2012, as per the contract.

The vessel is manned by 16 Indian crews including the captain, deck officers, engine officers and other members. As per the contractual obligation between the company Great Offshore Ltd owners of Malaviya Twenty and the hirers, Malaviya would transport cargo to the site, and venture into international waters for collecting it. The operation has been estimated to get over by the middle of this year.

Costa op to cost a lot
“This is the largest ever salvage operation of a cruise line across the world,” a shipping industry source said. “The estimated cost of the operation is said to be around $350 million, which can go up to $400 million depending on the ground situation.”

“The Costa is resting precariously on hard rocks at about 10 m, and in case it shifts irregularly it can slide further deep to another 20 to 40 m, making the salvage operation more complex and expensive,” he added. Officials at Great Offshore Ltd said, “We are bound by the confidential clause with our clients and cannot divulge any information to the media about any ongoing operations.”

Kevin honoured for solidarity
Meanwhile, Kevin Rebello, brother of Russel Rebello who went missing on January 13, 2012 when the Costa hit a reef and keeled over off Giglio Island, was honoured at a ceremony held in Italy to acknowledge those who helped victims and aided in search operations during and in the aftermath of the shipwreck.

Kevin Rebello
Kevin (C) dedicated his award to his missing brother Russel Rebello and the kin of other victims of the Costa tragedy

A special award was conferred to some victims’ kin, including Kevin, for maintaining peace and solidarity during the search for those lost at sea. “I dedicated the award to my brother and the families of all the victims, for all the time we spent together, waiting for some news about our loved ones,” said Kevin.

Kevin also met Italian Coast Guard Commander Gregorio De Falco. He said of De Falco, “The navy captain had the last conversation with Costa Concrodia Captain Francesco Schettino. He apparently ordered the renegade captain to get back on the ship and help people to safety. He is famous for his heroic conversation. He was also eager to meet me since he knew of my search for my brother. He was sorry about Russel and the 31 others who did not make it to the land alive.” 

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