ROME (AP) — The Costa Concordia cruise ship wreck will be removed in June from its watery graveyard off Tuscany and taken to a port to be dismantled, the final phase of an unprecedented 600 million-euro ($817 million) salvage effort.
At a news conference Friday, Italy's civil protection chief and Costa Crociere officials gave the timetable and the rundown of what was needed for the ship to be refloated. They spoke just days before the second anniversary of the ship's Jan. 13, 2012, grounding that killed 32 people.
A handful of Italian ports — including Piombino, Genoa, Palermo and Civitavecchia — are bidding to take in the wreck and dismantle it for scrap. Ports in France, Turkey, Britain and even China are also bidding for the job.
Italy's environment minister, Andrea Orlando, and the head of Costa Crociere SpA, Michael Thamm, said the preference was to keep the project in Italy, both to limit potential environmental damage while the hobbled ship is in transit and to keep any economic benefits at home.
A decision on the winning bid is expected in March, they said.
The Concordia slammed into a reef off the island of Giglio when its captain took it off course in an apparent stunt to bring it closer to the island. With a 70-meter (230-foot) gash in its hull, the ship listed for an hour and finally capsized off Giglio's port.
Capt. Francesco Schettino is currently on trial for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all the passengers had been evacuated. He says he is innocent and that he saved lives with the ship's final maneuvers.
In a remarkable 19-hour engineering feat, salvage operators in September righted the Concordia from its side and brought it to rest upright on a false seabed. Since then, crews have stabilized the giant ship and prepared its heavily damaged starboard side, which had borne the weight of the ship against underwater rocks, to be outfitted with giant tanks that will help float it.