Monday, January 23, 2012
Brother, Can You Lend Me $450 Million?
Like much of the rest of the world, I've been absolutely mesmerized by the January 13th sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy.
Susan and I have done a bunch of cruises over the years, so one naturally places oneself in this setting; and yet this is completely anathema to every experience we've had on a cruise ship. All of our cruises have been with Holland America, and they've never put a foot wrong. Everything is friendly but quietly professional at every turn. Quite apart from the initial, showboating mistake of the Concordia's captain, I feel confident that no Holland America crew would allow such disarray and mayhem once an incident had occurred.
But that's of little help to the passengers of the Concordia. The pictures of the ship, still lit up like a christmas tree, listing to one side next to the island of Giglio have a huge fascination / horror factor, especially when followed a short time later by the half-submerged ship laying on its side.
Of course one's heart aches for those who did not make it off, and for their friends and loved ones who will suffer their loss. But after that initial pain, I'm fascinated at the prospect of what they'll do with the wreck from here onward. They can't just drag it into deeper water, nor, I suspect, can they cut it up where it lies, at least if they want to preserve the pristine setting where this all occurred. I'm also taking it as a given that the ship is beyond salvage, so that no attempt to save it for refitting will be involved. I could be wrong on all these counts, of course.
One article I read said that the ship would likely be moved, once the fuel is off-loaded, by first patching the hole then surrounding it with flotation and rolling it to an upright-but-mostly-submerged state. And then the water pumped out. I would pay money for a front row seat to witness such an operation. I wonder if it's ever been tried before?
Regardless, someone will have to do something about the wreck. I'll be watching eagerly to see what is decided.
An L.A. Times article from a couple days ago addresses some of these questions.