Salvaging the wreck of the cruise ship the Costa Concordia is a celebration of the marvels of engineering and the will power, determination and ingenuity of mankind. It is also a respectful remembrance to those who died in this very avoidable human tragedy.
Recovering the now rusted hulk of what was once a state of the art cruise liner began in earnest after it was run aground by its captain trying to impress friends and the public, not far from the Shore of Giglio Island, off the coast of Tuscany.
This extraordinary engineering feat involved building massive metal cradles on which the wrecked hull could rest once it had been pulled into a fully vertical position. These gigantic iron platforms were supported beneath by an artificial ocean floor made up of sacks filled with specially made reinforced concrete which would be able sustain the weight of the 114000 ton ship. Colossal metal boxes like ballast tanks were welded to the upright side of the liner and slowly filled with water as heavy-duty cables winched and rotated the ship, freeing it from the shackles of the shallow submerged reef.
Among the many human qualities and attributes the whole salvage operation celebrates are team work, international collaboration and cooperation, human intellectual and practical accomplishments, success and achievement in the face of adversity, and the inexhaustible, resilient nature of our human imagination. The latter a quality unique to humankind.
The Scottish Mountaineer, W. H. Murray captured in essence the esprit de corps of all those who worked on salvaging the Costa Concordia when he wrote:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. *Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” (Murray, 1951)
Murray, W. (1951). The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. London: Dent.
•This part of the quote is often attributed to the German Philosopher and writer Goethe