Oil rig ship planned for Italy cruise wreck removal

Cruise company Costa Crociere said Thursday it had signed a contract for a special ship used to lift oil platforms as a possible way of raising the wrecked Costa Concordia liner next year.

The Dockwise Vanguard is "the world's largest semi-submersible ship", the company said in a statement, adding that it was "one of the possible options" for the removal planned next year.

The Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off the Italian island of Giglio on the night of January 13, 2012 with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board in a tragedy that claimed 32 lives.

The ship, which keeled over on its side, was raised upright last month in the largest ever salvage operation of its kind. The plan is now to refloat it and tow it away for scrapping.

Costa Crociere, Europe's biggest cruise operator, said the Dockwise Vanguard would stabilise the wreck as it is being raised using ballast tanks and then carry it to its final port of destination.

"We have always taken into consideration all the possible alternatives and state of the art technologies," said Franco Porcellacchia, wreck removal coordinator for Costa Corciere.

The salvage is being carried out by a joint venture between US company Titan Salvage and Micoperi, an Italian firm that installs offshore oil rigs and underwater pipelines.