Flashback in history: Costa Concordia grounding, sinking and 32 fatalities, 13 Jan 2012


Costa Concordia leaning on its side

Thirty-two people died after the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground with more than 4,000 passengers and crew on 13 January 2012, only hours after leaving the Italian port of Civitavecchia. The graphics and maps below reveal more about what happened.

Four-stage image showing how Costa Concordia hit rocks and tilted before sinking

The Costa Concordia left the Italian port of Civitavecchia at 19:18 local time (18:18 GMT).

The ship was heading out on a week-long cruise around the Mediterranean with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew onboard.


As it made its way north-west along the Italian coastline, Captain Francesco Schettino ordered the ship to be steered close to the island of Giglio as a "salute".

Italy's Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport published a detailed timeline of events in its report into the accident (PDF), released in May 2013.

Other details emerged at pre-trial hearings, including excerpts of the frantic conversations between the Captain and his crew in the aftermath of the accident, captured by the ship's "black box" voice recorder.

Nearing Giglio just after 21.30, the captain gave the helmsman coordinates, followed by the warning "otherwise we go on the rocks".

Minutes later, at 21:45, the Costa Concordia hit a rocky outcrop while travelling at around 16 knots.


How the Costa Concordia capsized

The ship was holed on the left-hand side, started taking on water and began to tilt. Engine rooms were flooded and power was lost.

The crew struggled to assess the situation and relayed incomplete information to the Italian authorities.

At 21:52 the chief engineer and electrical officer tried and failed to start the ship's emergency diesel generator.

Shortly afterwards, passengers were told that the ship was suffering a "blackout", but that the situation was under control. The same information was given to the harbour master at Civitavecchia.

Costa Concordia crew member tells coastguard "we have a blackout"

Positioning data shows that the Costa Concordia turned and began to drift back towards the island's port soon after 22:00 due to, investigators say, a combination of the wind and the rudder positioned to starboard (right).

As it drifted, the ship then began to list in the opposite direction, possibly caused by water in the damaged hull rushing to the far side during the turn.

At 22:12, the coastguard called the ship to say passengers were reporting problems to the local police, but the captain replied: "We have a blackout and we are checking the conditions on board."

At 22:22 the captain gave orders to tell the coastguard that they had had a "failure" and needed help from tug boats. The radio operator did this and added that all the passengers had been given life jackets, none was injured and there was a gash in the left side of the ship.

At 22:33 the general emergency alarm was raised and passengers told to go to muster stations and await instructions.

By 22:48 the ship had settled on the rocky sea bed, tilted by more than 30 degrees. The captain finally gave the order to abandon ship at at 22:54.

Most passengers escaped in lifeboats, but evacuation efforts were hampered by the angle of the tilting ship. The coastguard launched boats and helicopters to carry stranded passengers to safety.

At 23:19 Captain Schettino abandoned the bridge, leaving the second master to co-ordinate the evacuation.

However by 23:32 the second master also left the bridge. Around 300 passengers and some crew were still on board.

At midnight dozens of passengers remained, many clinging to the exposed side of the ship.

In a conversation recorded at 00:42, a coastguard commander ordered the captain to get back on board. He did not, and went ashore.

The rescue continued over the weekend, with the ship's safety officer, Marrico Giampietroni, being discovered and evacuated with a broken leg at 12:00 on Sunday. A South Korean couple were also rescued.

A recording was released in which the coastguard ordered Captain Schettino to 'get back on board'. Capt Schettino was arrested and later went on trial, charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and abandoning ship. He admitted making a navigational error, and told investigators he had "ordered the turn too late" as the ship sailed close to the island.

The ship's owners, Costa Cruises, said the captain had made an "unapproved, unauthorised" deviation in course, sailing too close to the island in order to show the ship to locals.

Crash investigationAutomatic tracking systems show the route of the Costa Concordia until it ran aground on 13 January. Data from 14 August 2011 show the ship followed a similar course close to the shoreline, according to Lloyd's List Intelligence. On 6 January 2012, it passed through the same strait but sailed much further from the island. Divers searched the ship as it rested on the seabed in about 20m of water. The operation had to be suspended a number of times as the ship shifted position. The sea floor eventually drops to about 100m.

Position of Costa Concordia on seabed and 3D image of seafloor

Before salvage work could begin, 2,400 tonnes of fuel had to be extracted from its tanks.

The Dutch salvage firm Smit brought a barge alongside the ship and divers installed external tanks to collect the diesel. More than 2,200 tonnes of fuel was eventually extracted, but the engineers were unable to remove all of it from some of the most inaccessible tanks. The decision to salvage the ship, rather than break it up, was taken in May 2012, four months after the disaster. The contract - awarded jointly to salvage companies Titan and Micoperi - was described as an unprecedented operation. The ship was eventually refloated in July 2014 and taken to Genoa, where the scrapping operation is expected to take two years.

Source: BBC


Relevant news articles:

  1. Whither Costa Concordia, Amid Environmental Concerns
  2. Costa Concordia Refloated and will soon be towed away and broken up for scrap.
  3. Costa Concordia cruise ship refloating operation started
  4. Costa Concordia wreck reaches Genoa
  5. Incredible Costa Concordia Salvage Operation (Video)
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  1. Ships do not "tilt", they "list". Moreover, ships are not "boats" as noted in diagram 3. above. Further, the vessel was not salvaged, it was removed under the terms of a wreck removal contract which is a completely different concept and is paid for by P&I and not hull insurers. Nor have you mentioned that the insurance losses have amounted to well over USD 2.5 billion, currently the biggest maritime grounding insurance loss ever suffered. Sorry, not very good report i.e. "could do better".

      • Thanks. I now note the source at the bottom of the article. If we have reached the stage where the BBC churns out rubbish, then we know that the world of journalism is in bad shape. If you wish to maintain your Group site's credibility, perhaps you should be careful and stay clear of entertainment junk like this.

  2. In as much as the source of reporting is from the BBC, Maritime Cyprus could have done a little sieving or corrections so to say, prior to publishing of such report because it has gone viral and can mislead... especially to those with little or no better in-dept knowledge in the maritime world.
    From graphics as above, ship and not boat listed and not tilted.Then how can ship tilt to opposite side and later list and sank? Beside the wordings used shows that the original writer of such report is a novice in the maritime industry, only better in political propaganda! This makes the entire report null and void!!. It is simply advisable to proof read information prior to publishing as facts, so as not to loose credibility.