Discovery special chronicles Costa Concordia salvage operation

A 19-hour operation to pull the crippled cruise ship Costa Concordia into an upright position was successfully accomplished early today. This Friday on Discovery Channel, a one-hour premiere special called Inside Raising Concordia will follow this salvage operation of the ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy in January 2012, leaving 32 people dead.

The Costa Concordia remains where it capsized, becoming not only an eyesore, but a growing environmental hazard. The salvage operation to rotate the massive ship into an upright position, and eventually remove it from the sea, is the most expensive and daunting salvage operation ever attempted.

“In terms of the size of the operation basically you could take all the other salvage operations I’ve been involved in and times them by 10,” said Nick Sloane, the project’s senior salvage master. “It’s the biggest salvage operation by a long way.”

While most salvage jobs are relatively simple — with the ship being either removed or destroyed — the circumstances surrounding the Costa Concordia proved more challenging. Breaking up the ship would have been an environmental catastrophe, so the owners turned to Titan Marine for a revolutionary solution.

Inside Raising Concordia will show how the engineers prepped for the job, which included building colossal barges complete with a hospital, gym and living quarters for the hundreds of divers and specialists. It will also reveal the step-by-step process involved with pulling the ship upright – a process known as parbuckling – and how they plan to refloat the Costa Concordia before finally towing it away to be scrapped.

Starting Wednesday, Sept. 18, viewers will be able to watch time-lapse footage of the Costa Concordia‘s recovery at Discovery.com/RaisingTheConcordia.

Inside Raising Concordia premieres Sept. 20 at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel. The special will also be broadcast on Discovery Channel in over 220 countries and territories.

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Costa Concordia: Credit Discovery Channel