Costa Concordia

They did it!  And both the time-lapse photographs and the technical statistics (from Wikipedia) demonstrate what an awesome challenge it was.

With mechanical challenges is it “just” a matter of increasing the scale of application of already well-known techniques. A lever is a lever, a pulley is a pulley… just build a bigger one?

I ask myself whether the same enormous efforts towards medical, economic, political, and social solutions could also be successful. I suppose not.

No matter how hard you push or pull, it will not help if the plan is wrong, if you have insufficient manpower and tools, if you are applying pressure in the wrong place, or in the wrong direction.

Or, heaven forbid, if there were multiple teams of engineers and consultants pulling in opposite directions, or bickering so much about a plan that the work could not even be started.

If engineers can put a man on the moon and right the Costa Concordia, why can’t other experts put their heads together and solve more pressing difficulties? The man on the moon did not affect my life at all, and I really don’t care about a derelict cruise ship spoiling the view.

Alzeimers, cancer, urban sprawl, environmental degradation… etcetera, etcetera…  These are not mechanical challenges, I know, but what can be learned from the engineer’s appraoches to problem solving and co-ordination of effort?

Costa Concordia Time Lapse Video

Righting of the Costa Concordia

Image shows the chains at the left, with the sponsons and cables to the right. Not shown are the grout pads between the seabed and the platforms.

The hull of the Costa Concordia lay starboard side to the seaward face of a small outcropping very near the mouth of the harbor of Giglio, Italy, resting precariously on the incline to deeper water. To right the vessel, four key pieces of apparatus were required.

  1. A “holdback” system of chains attached to the island on one end and the hull on the other to ensure Costa Concordia rolled in place
  2. A man-made ledge inserted into the island face to provide a landing surface for the vessel
  3. A series of sponsons attached to the hull’s port side so as, when flooded, to increase the torque on the hull and to unburden the pulleys and winches
  4. An arrangement of cables rising from the edge of the ledge over the sponsons on the port side of the hull

Tensioning the cables started the roll of the ship. At about the halfway-to-vertical position the sponsons were filled with seawater, and Costa Concordia completed its roll to upright upon the ledge.[4] The hull was rotated 65 degrees to become vertical.[5]

The holdback system

The holdback system consists of 56 chains in total, of which 22 chains are attached to the port side and go under the hull to the island. Each chain is 58 metres (190 ft) long and weighs about 26 metric tons (29 short tons).[5] Each ring weighs 205 kilograms (450 pounds).

The ledge

The ledge is part steel and part grout. There are six steel platforms. The three larger platforms measure 35 by 40 metres (115 ft × 130 ft) each; the three smaller platforms measure 15 by 5 metres (49 ft × 16 ft) each. The 6 platforms are supported by 21 pillars of 1.6 metres (5.2 ft) diameter each and plunged for an average of 9 metres (30 ft) in the granite sea face of Giglio. The grout is 1,180 individual bags with a volume of over 12,000 cubic metres (16,000 cubic yards) and over 16,000 metric tons (18,000 short tons) tons in weight.[5]

The sponsons

Eleven steel sponsons were installed on the port side of the hull: two long horizontal sponsons; two long vertical sponsons and seven short vertical sponsons.

  • Each long horizontal sponson
    • measures 33 by 11.5 by 10.5 metres (108 by 38 by 34 ft),
    • weighs about 540 metric tons (600 short tons),
    • provides 3,600 cubic metres (4,700 cubic yards) of buoyancy.
  • Each long vertical sponson
    • measures 33 by 11.5 by 10.5 metres (108 by 38 by 34 ft),
    • weighs of about 523 metric tons (577 short tons),
    • provides about 3,600 cubic metres (4,700 cubic yards) of buoyancy.
  • Each short vertical sponson
    • measures 21.8 by 11.5 by 10.5 metres (72 by 38 by 34 ft),
    • weighs about 400 metric tons (440 short tons),
    • provides about 2,400 cubic metres (3,100 cubic yards) of buoyancy.

Two steel “blister” tanks are connected together at the hull’s bow. They measure 23 metres (75 ft) in length, 20 metres (66 ft) in height each, and have a total breadth of about 36 metres (118 ft). The whole blister structure (the two blister tanks, the tubular frame and the three anchor pipes) weighs about 1,700 metric tons (1,900 short tons). They provide a net buoyancy of 4,500 metric tons (5,000 short tons) to the bow section.[5]

Wikipedia

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