ROME, July 27 (Xinhua) - The final journey of Costa Concordia cruise liner ended on Sunday at the port of Genoa, northern Italy, were the huge sunken ship will be now dismantled and scrapped.
The ship was towed for more than 200 nautical miles with a convoy of 14 vessels headed by two tugboats. It had left Giglio Island, where the Concordia had been lying for 30 months after its wreckage, on July 23.
The convoy with the wreck had sailed through the Mediterranean at a 2.5 knots speed and, as scheduled, needed five days to reach its final destination. The salvage operation team and Italian authorities were visibly relieved and also a little proud of the technical result.
According to Italy's civil protection agency chief, Franco Gabrielli, three key elements ensured the success. "The first was the commitment of the ship's owner company, which has never failed to provide the necessary resources," Gabrielli declared to Italy's Ansa news agency.
"The second was the private procedure followed to assign the mission, which allowed to by-pass a whole range of possible setbacks linked to tenders. The third was an excellent cooperation with public authorities, which had to supervise the private subject was working in accordance with the law," Gabrielli said.
Costa Crociere chief executive, Michael Thamm, went onboard the Concordia after it entered the harbour of Genoa to thank the senior salvage master Nick Sloane and his team "for the extraordinary commitment they have demonstrated throughout the project".
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also went to Genoa port to congratulate the mixed community of Italian and foreign experts that had worked through the operation since the beginning.
The docking of the wreck began at around 14:30 local time(1330GMT).
Both PM Renzi and Italy's Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti, though praising the successful result, wanted to recall the high human costs of Concordia's wreckage.
"This is a good day but not a day of celebration, our thoughts go to the victims and Giglio island," Galletti wrote on his twitter account.
The entire Concordia wreck removal project was regarded as quite unprecedented.
With a 114,500 tons, 290-meter long hull, the ship was one of the largest ever to capsize. It hit rocks off Giglio Island in January 2012, and sank few dozen meters from its shores killing 32 people.
The removal project began in the first months of 2013. The salvage team had to create an artificial seabed of steel platforms underneath the ship. The wreck had to be rotated, hauled up and settled on the submerged platforms, then secured in this position. Finally, the Concordia had to be refloated in order to be tug away to Genoa.
The project was carried out by the Titan-Micoperi consortium and paid by Concordia's owner Costa/Carnival at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion euros (20 billion U.S. dollars), according to the company.