For diver, Concordia should be sunk, not saved

Fri May 4, 2012 9:28am EDT
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By Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) - The Costa Concordia, the wrecked liner which has been half-submerged near the Italian island of Giglio since it hit a rock in January, could be a paradise for recreational scuba divers from around the world - if sunk instead of salvaged.

"Every night I light a candle and say a prayer for it to sink," Aldo Baffigi, a Giglio native, says of the 290-metre-long ship with its towering smokestack and four swimming pools.

Most of the Tuscan island's 1,500 residents want the modern-day Titanic to be hauled away as soon as possible, but Baffigi is an underwater guide and owner of Deep Blue Diving College, and he knows the fascination shipwrecks have for scuba divers.

"It would be the most popular shipwreck in the world. We wouldn't know what to do with all the divers. It would be like manna from heaven."

With the salvage set to begin this month, Baffigi's prayers have not yet had the desired effect.

But he has not lost hope because such a massive ship has never been salvaged in one piece, and a strong storm could still send the cruise liner, precariously perched on an undersea ledge, sliding down into deeper waters.

The U.S. company Titan Salvage together with Italy's Micoperi plan to tug the 114,000-tonne ship upright onto an underwater platform, attach two air-filled flotation devices to its sides to make it buoyant, and then tow it to a nearby port.

The $300-million salvage is going to take at least a year, officials have said.   Continued...

Oil tanker Magic Duba (R) and oil recovery sea platform Meloria (C) are seen during the extraction of fuel from the wreck of cruise liner Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the west coast of Italy, at Giglio island February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito