Nova (1974–…): Season 42, Episode 2 - Sunken Ship Rescue - full transcript

NOVA follows the epic operation to secure, raise and salvage the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground and capsized off the coast of Italy on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people. The wreck stretches the length of three football fields, weighs 45,000 tons and lies half submerged on the site of a protected reef, with a 160-foot-long hole in its hull. Moving it from its precarious perch on the edge of an underwater cliff will be a huge technical and logistical challenge. Now, NOVA joins a team of more than 500 divers and engineers working around the clock as they attempt the biggest ship recovery project in history.

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A pleasure cruise turns deadly.

The Costa Concordia
smashes into the rocks

off the coast of Italy.

32 lives are lost.

It is something

that you could never imagine
that can happen.

It's like a nightmare.

In the wake
of a horrible human tragedy,

another disaster looms.

A ship the size of a town
threatens to break up

just off shore,
wrecking an underwater haven.



She's very finely balanced,

and if you disturb that balance,
she goes into deep water.

Battered by wind and waves,
it's a ticking time bomb.

This job has such large
ramifications.

All the chips are on the table.

Now an international team
of engineers and divers

faces a daunting challenge:

to raise the massive shipwreck
and tow it away in one piece.

It's something that
has never been done,

has never been attempted.

Can this mangled, fragile wreck

the length of three
football fields

and weighing 45,000 tons

be wrenched off the rocks
without splitting apart?



Any movement?

It's a little bit heavy.

"Sunken Ship Rescue,"
right now on NOVA.

Major funding for NOVA
is provided by the following:

The island of Giglio,
an Italian vacation paradise,

famous for its clear
Mediterranean waters

and pristine coral reefs.

But just off shore

lies something that could spoil
anyone's holiday.

A rotting shipwreck,

a reminder of a tragic
maritime accident.

January 13, 2012.

The Costa Concordia sets sail

from the port of Civitavecchia

en route to the city of Savona.

On board, 3,200 passengers
and 1,000 crew members.

That afternoon,
the ship's captain

makes a fateful decision.

He decides to divert the ship
to the island of Giglio,

sailing along the coast,
close to shore.

With the vessel traveling
under manual control,

she crashes
into an underwater reef.

We heard a very unusual
kind of grinding sound.

Almost like fingers-
on-a-chalkboard type of thing.

Seawater floods inside.

When I saw the water
starting to seep in,

I ignored it at first.

Like, that just doesn't happen.

That doesn't happen
on your honeymoon,

and it's not possible
in this day and time

that a huge cruise ship
like that could sink.

But it was possible.

As the ship starts to capsize,
passengers flee for their lives.

Plates were moving.

Silverware was jingling.

It just kind of sunk in,
"This is for real."

Shortly after midnight,

the vessel keels over
and crashes onto the rocks.

We looked over the rail.

The ship is leaning,
and it's leaning more and more.

We knew this was so serious.

It's the biggest maritime
evacuation in history,

and a human tragedy.

32 people are killed.

The captain is charged

with abandoning ship
and manslaughter.

But that terrible night
is not the end of the disaster.

After the search
for survivors ends

and the last rescue workers
have left the island,

the colossal ship remains,
half-sunk right off the coast.

The vessel's owner,
Costa Crociere,

faces a salvage challenge
of epic proportions.

The ship is three football
fields long and 13 stories high.

She's filled with half a million
gallons of fuel oil

and supplies
for several thousand people.

If she breaks up,
she will spill her contents

into the pristine
Mediterranean waters.

To figure out
how to remove the wreck,

the ship's owners send in
one of their top men,

Franco Porcellacchia.

Franco knows the Costa Concordia
better than anyone

because he helped to design her.

I am a naval architect
and marine engineer.

I was in charge

of the construction of this
vessel in the old days.

It is very sad.

It's something that you can
never imagine that can happen.

It's like a nightmare.

Franco's concerned
that this human tragedy

doesn't turn into
an ecological disaster.

The vessel crashed in a place
of outstanding natural beauty.

The sea around Giglio
is a protected area

for dolphins and whales.

It's full of stunning corals,
rare fish and sea grasses...

and an endangered giant mussel
growing up to three feet long.

Our commitment was

to restore the situation
and to give back the island

to the people
living in the island,

creating the least damage
possible to the environment.

Two weeks after the disaster,

salvage divers tap into the hull
to start pumping out the oil.

But the wreck itself remains
an environmental time bomb.

Full of rotting food,
cleaning chemicals

and plastics,
if it stays on the rocks,

it could leach pollution
for decades.

The cruise line
calls in Rich Habib,

managing director of the
American company Titan Salvage,

to figure out
how to remove the wreck

as quickly as possible.

In the old days,

we salvaged ships or wrecks

for the value that we could get
out of the materials,

or we moved them because
they were blocking

a navigational channel.

Nowadays, salvage is really done
for environmental reasons.

The Concordia,
it's an environmental hazard

to the area,
and it has to be removed.

Rich must find a way
to remove the ship

without further damaging
the environment.

One option is to cut the vessel
into smaller pieces,

taking it away bit by bit.

To do this, Rich's crew
would need to anchor platforms

either side of the wreck.

Between them,
they would stretch a wire

with an abrasive coating
almost as tough as diamond.

Powerful winches would then
pull the wire back and forth,

driving it through the hull,

slicing the ship
into manageable pieces

which they can then tow away.

Engineers have used
this technique before

to remove the wreck
of the Tricolor cargo ship.

The vessel, which was
carrying 2,800 new cars,

sank off the coast of France
in 2002.

It took nearly two years

to dice the ship
into nine pieces

and tow them away.

The Costa Concordia is twice
the size of the Tricolor.

Cutting the ship up
would not only take longer,

but would spill its contents
into the sea,

polluting the surrounding water.

There's a couple of problems.

First of all,
there's environmental issues,

and secondly,
there's technical issues.

The vessel's laying on its side,
so you'd have to cut at an angle

through all these decks
and all these bulkheads.

I mean, just aside from the mess
you're going to make,

there's just no practical way
to contain all the debris

that's going to occur.

So I don't think
cutting it up is practical,

and it's not the right thing
for this place.

To reduce the danger
of pollution,

Rich must find a way
to remove the wreck intact.

Inspiration comes
from an unusual source.

In 1941, one of the victims

of the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor

was the battleship
the USS Oklahoma.

Up to nine torpedoes
tore a 250-foot-long hole

in the ship's hull.

Water flooded inside,
rolling it over.

More than 400 sailors
were on board.

Only 32 survived.

To clear the harbor,
military engineers needed a way

to haul the 27,500-ton vessel
upright.

They planned a bold operation,
using cables and winches.

First, they dropped 2,200 tons
of coral along her bow

to pin the ship in place.

Then, they bolted wooden frames
onto the hull.

They attached
high-strength steel cables

running through a network
of pulleys

and hooked them up
to powerful winches

made from streetcar engines

anchored in concrete
on the shore.

By pulling steadily
over three months,

the salvage crews
gently rolled her upright.

They call this technique
"parbuckling."

Well, the Oklahoma,

she weighed about 30,000 tons.

The Concordia weighs
about 45,000 tons,

and that's without
absorbed water

and other things
we need to count,

so while the technique
is not new,

the magnitude of it
is just off the charts.

Parbuckling is not easy.

An attempt to right
another Pearl Harbor wreck,

the USS Utah, ended in failure.

Instead of staying in position
and rolling upright,

she slid out of control.

She's still lying there today.

Despite the risk,

Rich and his team
plan to use parbuckling

to right the Costa Concordia
in one piece.

Morning, guys.

To give his plan
the best chance of success,

Rich brings in one of the
world's top salvage experts

to direct operations.

Zambia-born master mariner
Nick Sloane

has salvaged more than 80 ships,
tankers and oil rigs

in a globe-trotting career
spanning 34 years.

At twice the size
of the Titanic,

the wreck of the Costa Concordia

will be his most challenging
project to date.

The size of the ship
and the location,

that makes it more challenging

than anything
that has been done before.

And it's just the scale of it,
the components, the engineering.

With a vast team
of engineers, divers,

welders and technicians
from 26 countries,

Nick knows he must remove
the ship as quickly as possible.

A delay of even one day
will be expensive.

We don't like delays.

So when we have 500 people
on the project

plus all the equipment,
it's a million dollars a day.

But an underwater survey
of the wreck site

immediately reveals
a major problem.

If you see the profile of Giglio
from the top

up by the castle,

it's a 35 to 45 degree slope
that she's on.

And what you see underwater

is these two little ridges
that she's balanced on,

and if you disturb that balance,
she goes into deep water.

The wreck balances precariously
on a rocky ridge.

The fear is that strong waves

could send her crashing
into deep water,

making salvage
virtually impossible.

So before the crew can even
begin to salvage the ship,

they must secure it
to the ridge.

They'll drill anchor blocks
into the rocks

and run 16 high-strength
cables under the keel

and thread them through jacks
bolted to the hull.

This giant cradle of steel

will hold the ship secure
to the seabed

as the team prepares
for the epic task

of raising her off the rocks.

Nick is racing against time.

He has only five months before
the winter storms roll in.

All right, let's do it.

Experts arrive
from all over the world

along with a rig
to start drilling the holes

for the anchor blocks that will
hold the ship in place.

Each block must be secured
with ten steel tendons

plunging as deep as 50 feet
into the rock.

Though fragile coral reefs
lie nearby,

the seabed under the ship
is hard granite,

making drilling
a difficult process.

By now, Nick had hoped to start
installing the equipment

for parbuckling the ship,

but the anchor blocks
are still not ready,

and the weather could turn bad
any day.

The weather's always your worst
enemy in a salvage operation.

We had waves going straight over
the red lighthouse.

And in fact in 2008, that whole
breakwater was destroyed.

So it gets pretty nasty
out here,

and that's our worst enemy,

especially this time
of the year.

An early winter storm could
knock the ship off the ridge.

I still think we've got our work
cut out for us.

This will take a bit of time.

It takes six months
for divers and technicians

to secure
the four anchor blocks.

Tied to the metal anchors,
a cradle of steel cables

finally hugs the ship tight
against the seabed,

preventing it from sliding
into deeper water.

The vessel is now secure.

But there's one more task
to complete

before the team can begin
salvage work.

This is a beautiful area,

and there are special
inhabitants here.

In particular,
in this part of the island

lives a colony of giant mussel.

The ship has crashed

almost on top of a bed
of rare giant mussels.

The species Pinna nobilis
used to be harvested for food,

but is now protected.

Before they can move the ship,

they must remove
the precious mollusks

and replant them
away from the wreck.

Altogether, I think it was
more than 100 of them,

and they are still alive.

I'm sure that they will like
where they are now.

With the mussels safe
in their new home

and the Costa Concordia
secured to the bedrock,

the team can finally start work

on the ambitious scheme
to parbuckle the ship.

This is the plan.

First, they must build
a huge platform under the ship

to support her hull
as she rolls.

They'll fit massive tanks
filled with air

to her port side.

On top of the tanks,
a battery of powerful jacks

pulling on a bank
of steel wires.

As the jacks pull,

the air tanks will act
like giant water wings

to cushion her descent as
she rolls down into the water.

Only after the ship rests
upright on the platform

can the team refloat her
and tow her away.

If you plan a parbuckle wrong
or it misfires on you,

we will have
much more of a problem

than we would have had to start.

First task: build the giant
underwater platform

to catch the Costa Concordia
as she rolls upright.

Made from 5,000 tons of steel,
the six sections of platform

will cover an area
the size of a football field.

Constructed in shipyards
across Italy,

the giant pieces will be towed
by tugboats to the crash site.

Here, a powerful crane will need
to maneuver each section

onto its foundations,

which have to be drilled
into the rocks

with extreme precision

to make sure the platforms
are level.

Pioneer, Pioneer, Pioneer,
mobile one.

In Giglio, a large
floating barge arrives,

providing extra accommodation

as the underwater crew grows
to 120 divers.

They have one of the most
difficult and dangerous jobs

of the whole operation...

I want to move.

Remove the dive ladder.

Installing the foundations
for the platform legs.

The platform must be built
on rocks 100 feet underwater.

To be able to put the platforms
at this level

is quite a feat.

Dive superintendent Yurij Bean

leads the deep-water dive team.

He has 18 years' experience
of industrial diving.

It looks good.

But drilling into the tough
granite is a formidable task.

Okay, stop there.

The divers must level the rock
with jackhammers

so a floating rig
can start drilling

the six-foot diameter holes
for the platform legs.

Okay, up on the diver,

Up on the diver,
he's heading back.

Working 150 feet down

makes the job
incredibly dangerous.

Divers can't stay
at these depths

for longer than 50 minutes.

Look up.

If they do,

they could develop the bends,

when nitrogen bubbles
form in the bloodstream,

damaging nerves and body tissue.

For me, managing
the divers' safety

is the most important thing.

Safety is first.

After each shift,
the divers spend

about 40 minutes decompressing
in a special chamber

to stop gas bubbles
forming in their blood.

You okay?

Yep, not a problem, got it.

Once the divers
have prepared the seabed,

the drill team gets to work.

They lower a massive
six-foot diameter drill

down a tube to the seabed.

As it bites through the rock,
a pump sucks up the debris.

Filters remove the rock
and clean the water

so it can be pumped
back into the sea.

Drilling the 21
45-foot-deep holes

that they need
takes eight months.

Granite is your hardest rock,

more than double the strength
of sandstone and limestone.

It's most probably the worst
place you could choose.

In April 2013, almost a year
after salvage work began,

the team lowers the largest
platform section into position

and fixes it to the foundations.

The platform is designed
to support the ship

once she finishes rolling.

The Concordia is balanced
on two rocky outcrops,

leaving the middle of the hull
unsupported.

While the vessel is rotating,
she could break in two.

To plug this gap,
Nick has an ingenious plan.

First, divers will position
huge fabric bags under the keel.

Then, they'll inject them
with cement

to build stacks
of rock-hard mattresses.

This level bed of concrete

should support the hull
of the ship

as they roll her
onto the platform.

The finish of the cement bags

is critical to the success
of the parbuckling project.

Each one is sort of 40,
50 cubic meters,

and it's just this massive wall
20 meters high.

It's like the Great Wall
of China.

Over the next ten months,

the team will install 1,200
of the giant bags

and pump them full
with 20,000 tons of cement.

It's a huge operation,
but on its own,

it won't be enough
to support the ship.

On the mainland in Milan,

engineers are analyzing a unique
survey of the crash site.

We can see that in principle,

we can lower down this

before it floating
by four or five meters.

Using sonar and lasers,

surveyors have built
a detailed 3-D visualization

of the ridge that the vessel
is clinging to.

So if you have

some other sections to show me.

The images reveal
that 290 feet of the bow

hang over the edge of a cliff.

It's been discovered

that we could have significant
deflection of the bow,

and that could cause a problem
during the refloating phase.

To find out what will happen
to the bow

when they rotate the wreck,
engineers create the world's

largest supercomputer simulation
of a ship.

It reveals
a horrifying scenario.

As the vessel starts to roll
onto the platform,

the unsupported bow could sag
or even snap off.

It's like a patient
with a spinal injury.

So you're going to get
a lot of twisting,

and with the forces,
you could lose the bow.

It's impossible to extend
the platform to support the bow.

The drop on the seabed
is too steep.

We have to think
of something new

and something
that has to be shaped

according to the shape
of the bow.

This is becoming critical.

So here we are.

This is a major blow.

Without a plan
to support the bow,

the team can't raise the ship.

While the engineers
go back to the drawing board,

the operation to raise the Costa
Concordia enters a new phase.

In Livorno,
90 miles from the wreck,

workers are assembling
the air tanks

to install
on the side of the ship.

These will play a crucial role
in turning the ship upright.

The tanks,
called sponsons, are huge,

towering over 100 feet high.

Massive barges deliver each tank
to Giglio.

Today's mission:

attach the first tank
onto the port side of the ship.

Crank up on the boom,
up on the boom.

Up on the boom.

Okay, sounds good,
perfect, thanks.

The tank weighs 540 tons.

It's 11 stories high,

but must be positioned within
two inches of its neighbor.

It is a matter of precision.

To install
with a millimeter precision,

you can image
how delicate it is.

Once the giant tank is in place,
welders fix it in position.

In the next four months,

the team must attach
ten more tanks to the port side

to be ready to parbuckle
the ship in the autumn.

The fine summer weather

brings rapid progress
and some good news.

The engineers
have devised a plan

to prevent the bow
from falling off

when they pull the ship upright.

They will build special
air tanks, called blister tanks,

that will cradle the bow.

To position them, mechanics
will flood them with water.

When they refill the tanks
with air,

they'll form a huge,
floating collar

providing lift
to support the bow.

With the parbuckling operation
scheduled for September,

building the tanks
is a race against time.

It really wasn't until March
that we decided

that the blister tanks were the
right solution for the problem,

and so now we had
to essentially,

with just a couple
of months left,

we had to design, contract
and get these things built

and then get them installed.

But they do it.

In August, a colossal vessel
arrives in Giglio

carrying the pair
of giant blister tanks.

Altogether,
they weigh 1,700 tons.

That's seven and a half
times the weight

of the Statue of Liberty.

The blisters are as tall
as a 15-story building.

To match the attachment
on the bow

with the precise inclination

I think is something
that has never been done,

has never been attempted.

To attach the blister tanks
securely,

the team must first remove the
propellers of the bow thrusters

and replace them
with huge steel pins.

Only then will they be able

to lock the blister tanks
into place.

The pull of the structure,
it is 6,000 tons,

so to move an element like this,
it is quite a challenge.

The team slowly floods the tanks
with seawater to submerge them.

You want to run the big winch
all the way back to the stern.

So it's a very tricky operation.

Normally in these kind
of operations,

you're lifting these type
of weights out of the water,

not putting them in the water.

It takes six whole days
to position the tanks.

But at last, they are in place.

The tanks should solve
the bow problem, but at a price.

15 months after starting work,

the cost of clearing up
the wreck

has now exceeded the half
a billion dollars it took

to build the vessel.

September 2013.

With the underwater
support platform,

concrete mattresses
and air tanks all in place,

the team is ready
to attempt to rotate,

or parbuckle, the vessel
onto the underwater platform.

This is the critical maneuver
they've been working towards

for 20 months.

But have they thought
of everything?

Are all their calculations
correct?

You'll never be 100% ready.

And you say,
"Are we as good as we can be

in the time
that we've been allowed?"

The trending forecast,

that it's getting a little bit
worse on Wednesday and Thursday,

bothers me a bit.

There are two big unknowns.

The first is the weather.

Overnight, a storm strikes,

threatening to shut
the operation down...

as the world waits for news.

This operation is going to be
delayed for an hour.

That's because we had some
very bad weather last night.

The storm clouds clear, but
the other big unknown remains:

whether they have
enough pulling power

to wrench the ship off the reef.

All the power
for rotating the ship

will come
from 36 hydraulic jacks

attached to the tops
of the air tanks.

Inside them, hydraulic teeth
grip strands of cable

and pull them
through their jaws.

The jacks will work in unison,

pulling on 36 cables anchored
to the underwater platform.

The idea is, as the jacks
pull the cables tight,

they will wrench the ship up
and off the rocky ridge.

That's the plan.

But in the 20 months
since the ship capsized,

she has become attached
to the seabed.

Since she first settled
on the rock,

she's actually molded herself
around the rock,

and she's subsided by
about three meters.

When you try and parbuckle her,

there will be what they call
a break-out force,

and that's to tear her
off the rock.

And that force is unknown.

For Nick,
it's the moment of truth.

You are nervous,

but your mind is racing.

"What have we forgotten?"

You've been over the checklist
many times before.

Some things you can control,
some things you can't.

The operation's nerve center

is on a barge
in front of the ship.

There's a risk the parbuckling
could break the wreck apart,

so Nick orders everyone
off the vessel.

Just confirm all personnel
off the Concordia.

The operation gets underway
just after 9:00 a.m.

Okay, we're going up
ten percent.

Computers control all 36 jacks.

We have almost 13,000 tons
of pulling force

on the offshore side,
but everyone's nervous

because we're not sure
what the break-out force is.

Even though the jacks
have the capacity

to pull with nearly
13,000 tons of force,

the crew estimate that they will
only need to apply 5,000 tons

to dislodge the ship
from the rocks.

That's still
one and a half times the force

of the space shuttle's rockets
on take-off.

But as they reach
the magic number of 5,000 tons,

nothing happens.

Any movement?

It's a little bit heavy.

When we got to 5,000 tons,

things went pretty quiet.

The ship doesn't move.

They put more force
on the cables.

Okay, let's try for 6,000 tons.

6,500 tons,

you get a bit nervous
because you say,

"Okay, now we're right
at the upper threshold

of where we should be."

They keep increasing the force,

and finally,
something starts to happen.

And at 6,800, 6,900 tons,

she started coming up.

Finally, the giant vessel starts
to break free of the rocks

and rise from the sea.

Parts of the vessel, submerged
for the last 20 months, emerge,

covered in slime and rust.

The ship could break open
at any moment,

spewing toxic products
into the sea.

So they surround it
with oil booms

to protect the beaches.

Spotters circle the ship,

keeping an eagle eye out
for pollution as she rises.

Slowly, the Concordia emerges
from the depths in one piece.

It takes over seven hours

to haul the ship
one-sixth of the way up.

We were about two hours late
getting started,

and it was going a bit slower

because we're pulling
a little more force

than we originally
intended to pull,

so it's a little bit more force,
it's a little bit slower.

With the ship precariously
balanced, they can't stop.

They have to continue.

Now the team must undertake

the second challenging stage
of the roll...

in the dark.

The jacks may have pulled
the wreck off the rocks,

but there's a danger that
gravity might crash the ship

onto the platform.

The only things stopping this
are the air tanks

that act like giant water wings
keeping the ship afloat.

Once they've caught the vessel,

the team plans to slowly
flood the tanks with water,

hoping to carefully control
the ship's descent

onto the platform.

40 degrees is the point
where gravity will take over,

and so we will need to be
very careful there.

That's where we start
to transition

from pulling to ballasting,
or filling the tanks with water.

As they lower the massive vessel
inch by inch,

six underwater robots
scrutinize the hull

to make sure she's rolling
on target.

At 4:00 a.m.,

the Costa Concordia touches down
on the platform.

It's the first time the ship
has been level in 20 months.

It was a perfect operation,

I would say.

And I have to say that
there are no evidence so far

of any impact
to the environment.

Although the wreck is upright,
its hull still sits submerged

about 100 feet
below the water line.

The next day,
Nick's anxious to inspect

just how badly smashed
the ship is.

All the work will be in vain
if the ship is too badly damaged

to refloat or tow
to the scrapyard.

So we'll start off

just between the starboard bow
and the Pioneer.

For the first time,

the crew gets a good look
at the wounded vessel.

You see that damage
just underneath the blue crane.

She actually slid down the cliff
three meters,

and that's why all the balconies
have been moved up.

Almost it looks as if
the whole ship is bent.

The damage looks pretty bad,
like a bad car crash.

There are two
massive indentations

in the starboard side,
evidence that the ship

was resting
on two subsea mounds of rock.

Underwater,
there's another problem.

This is the bow side.

A massive vertical crack
in the hull has opened up.

As you can see, the crack is

about 500 millimeters wide.

And this opening
is extending down.

We have discovered

there was a crack
starting from the bilge area.

Inside, there is some
deformation of the decks.

The 40-foot-long crack

makes this brittle ship
even more delicate.

If it widens
and the vessel breaks apart,

it may be impossible
to tow her away.

Three months
after the parbuckling,

as December storms
batter the vessel,

the crew can only hope
she is strong enough

to survive her third winter
on the rocks.

The weather's now more rain,
more seas.

The temperature is dropping.

You can get three to four,
five meter seas.

They are close to completing
the salvage operation,

but now must wait
for better weather.

Spring 2014.

The Costa Concordia
has survived the winter.

With calmer seas
in the Mediterranean,

the salvage team can begin
the final stage of the mission.

It's a race to remove the wreck

before summer tourists arrive
to soak up the sun.

To refloat the ship,
they need to boost its buoyancy.

They'll fix 15 more tanks
onto the ship's starboard side

to match the tanks
flanking its port side.

By slowly pumping air
into the tanks,

forcing the water out,

they'll create a gigantic
life jacket around the vessel

with 66,000 tons
of lifting force.

K4, K4, mobile one.

Go ahead.

Okay, if you can come
onto the bow.

A crane must lower
each tank into place

where divers will securely
attach it to the ship.

Okay, she's all yours.

Can you stand by to come up
on your whip line?

Standing by.

Down easy on the hook.

Coming up.

Swing easy to the right.

Four giant chains
and four wire ropes

will hold the tank in place.

One more connection to make,

and we'll have
the fourth chain in

by 9:00 this evening.

Okay, locked,
check the other one.

Locked.

It takes two months
to install all the tanks.

But the achievement comes
at a terrible price.

While working underwater,

one of the divers is killed
in a tragic accident.

It's a stark reminder that
this is a dangerous job.

With the tanks installed,
the team is now ready

for the final stage
of the operation:

refloating the ship.

26 months after work began,
the day finally arrives

when they will attempt to raise
the Costa Concordia.

The operation's nerve center

has moved to the top deck
of the ship.

VC, VC, mobile one.

Go ahead.

Yeah, okay, but what's the diver
doing at the moment?

This is a critical moment.

As Nick pumps air into the tanks
and the ship begins to rise,

water will rush out
of submerged rooms and hallways.

You've got a lot
of decks of water

that's going to be trapped
in the decks as we bring her up.

So we've got to do it
one deck at a time

and let that water flow out.

If you did it too quickly,
then you'd lose stability

and she'd most probably
roll over.

To prevent that catastrophe,
they must raise the ship

with extreme caution,
inch by inch.

23, 65.

We're going to start 18 now.

On Nick's signal,

the crew fires up
a bank of powerful compressors

which start pumping air
into the tanks.

It takes 11 tense hours

to raise the ship seven feet up
off the underwater platform.

So deck number six
has come out of the water.

It's tough to see
from this side,

but deck six is now
out of the water.

How long we need...?

870.

In controlled stages,

they pump air into the tanks
for nine days and nights,

raising the ship 46 feet.

Deck five will come
out of the water,

deck four will come
out of the water,

and then we hope deck three
will come out of the water.

And the water level will be

just below deck three,
so that will leave

five more decks underwater.

Finally, the Concordia
floats high enough

for tugboats to come
and tow her away.

The bow came out of the water.

Now it looks like really a ship.

This is spectacular.

923 days after she capsized,

and following an extraordinary
engineering operation,

the Costa Concordia sets sail
on her final journey

to a shipyard in Genoa,

where she will be cut up
to be recycled.

The total cost
of salvaging the ship

is now estimated to be
$1.2 billion.

But no one can put a price
on the human cost.

Mixed feelings now.

This is not joyful
as it should be,

because we cannot forget that
the origin of this is a tragedy.

32 people lost their lives
in the original disaster

and one during the salvage.

Everyone involved
in raising the Costa Concordia

can take pride in a great
engineering achievement.

But it's a bittersweet triumph.

The harsh truth is

all the effort,
all the astronomical expense,

were to clean up
after a catastrophic accident

that should never have happened.