This week marks the one-year anniversary of one of the largest maritime disasters in world history. The January 13, 2012 allision and subsequent partial capsizing and grounding of the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia off of Isola del Giglio in Italy. The incident has become a testament to the lethal results that human error and complacency can have when they mix. While an accident so severe, it ends with the total loss and planned scrapping of a 952 foot-long, 500 million dollar ship is hard to imagine, what’s even more heartbreaking is the loss of life that came with the disaster that evening.
All total, there were 4,252 people on board the ship that night. 31 of them representing seven different countries didn’t survive. The list of confirmed fatalities includes 12 Germans, six Italians, six French, two Peruvians, two Americans, one Hungarian and one Spanish passenger. One additional passenger is still missing and presumed dead.
Statements made following the accident now show how dire the ships situation was and the chaos that ensued following the impact. Just about every passenger on board the ship reported a violent jolt followed by vibrating. The head of the engine room radioed the ships captain minutes after the rock tore a 160 foot long gash in the ships hull informing him of irreparable damage and loss of all generators and engines due to flooding.
As the lights dimmed and the ship drifted to a stop north of the initial impact location, some passengers reported a slight list of the ship to starboard, but announcements over the ships intercom informed them to remain calm, ‘the situation was under control and the problem was an electrical black-out’. Even shore-side Italian Coast Guard officials had no idea how serious the situation was because the damage wasn’t being properly reported.
Within 30 minutes following the impact, the ship was listing 20 degrees to starboard and video taken by passengers from inside the ship show dishes crashing to the floor and sliding across the carpeted hallways (see attached video). Passengers began jumping from the ship into the sea as the list continued past 25 degrees and the ship came to rest on a shoal. Italian rescuers reported pulling over 100 passengers out of the sea.
It wasn’t until over an hour after the accident that ship officials gave the order to abandon ship. Many of the ships officers, including the captain, abandoned ship as well leaving passengers stranded on board.
In the months that followed, 2,380 tons of heavy fuel oil was removed from the ship as it lay on its side. On March 22, 2012, the final 5 bodies were recovered from deep inside the ship.
The ship is scheduled to be salvaged in the spring of 2013 and moved to a shipyard where it will be cut up and turned to scrap.
It has long been nautical tradition to christen a ship after its completion by breaking a bottle of champagne against the ships hull. The superstition tells that the christening ensures good luck for the ship and its crew throughout its travels. After completion of the Costa Concordia a christening ceremony was held in September 2005. Model Eva Herzigova was chosen to release the bottle of champagne. The bottle never shattered as it impacted the ships hull.