Firm will help salvage Costa Concordia wreck
A BEVERLEY company is part of team tasked with salvaging the Costa Concordia after securing the biggest contracts in its history.
Dalby Offshore Limited has been awarded a multi-million contract to help salvage and raise the ill-fated vessel from the Island of Giglio, north of Rome in Italy.
The 114,500 tonne ship remains partially submerged 300m off the coast of Giglio after running aground on January 13.
Due to the scale of the high-profile disaster and the marine conditions surrounding the vessel, the salvage operation – which is estimated to be worth at least $500 million – has been described as one of the biggest and most complicated in marine history.
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Dalby Offshore Limited has now been named as one of the companies that is part of an international team instructed with raising the vessel and returning it to shore.
Managing director Stuart McNiven said: "This is the biggest contract we have ever won. It has been a very competitive tender process, however it comes down to having the right assets and expertise to do the job."
Specialist teams from Dalby Offshore are already involved in the project, and over the next few weeks the company will have numerous marine assets on site.
Mr McNiven said by early November, he expected to have up to 80 people working on the operation – a figure he said was likely to increase.
The key focus for the Beverley-based company will be the ASV Pioneer – a large accommodation barge that is being operated and managed by Dalby on behalf of Aberdeen-based Ferguson Modular.
Dalby has previously used this vessel for offshore workers in the renewables sector, namely those involved with the Greater Gabbard wind farm – one of the largest in the world.
Mr McNiven said: "We had originally set it up as a cable laying barge, for lying cable from the Gabbard wind farm. This in itself was a significant piece of work as the cable stretched for 53km.
"Because the Costa Concordia is on the Italian coast, we will be providing all the supply chain, so we have other vessels there bringing in cement from the mainland.
"We also have the large vessel, which is doing all of the operations around the Costa Concordia."
The Pioneer vessel will have an onboard grout-manufacturing plant and will produce and carry 30,000 tonnes of grout. This will be placed under the Costa Concordia to stabilise it and Dalby will work with UK-based partners Found Ocean Ltd to stabilise the hull and prepare the seabed for lifting the entire ship upright.
"This is a feat never tried before in marine salvage," said Mr McNiven.
Mr McNiven said the first phase of the operation will include the construction of a sub-sea platform followed by welding caissons to the exposed side of the ship, which will be filled with water.
After this, two cranes will be installed on the sub-sea platform to pull the vessel upright. The caissons will then be emptied, creating 60,000 tonnes of buoyancy and enabling the vessel to be towed off.
Dalby was founded in 2007 as Dalby Offshore Services and was initially focused on the management of anchor handling tug and supply vessels.
In 2010, following a strategic move into the renewables sector, the company relaunched as Dalby Offshore Renewables.
Dalby, which is based in Morton Lane, employs around 80 staff, with numbers regularly topped up during periods of peak demand.
Over the past year, the company has invested £10 million in five new high-specification crew transfer vessels – all of which have been built in the UK.
One of these vessels will soon head to Italy to help carry workers from the Island of Gigolo to the mainland, and Dalby has a further five vessels under construction.
While the company is now gearing up for the renewables activity planned for the North Sea, its latest contract win proves its expertise in offshore can be applied across sectors.
Mr McNiven, who has more than 30 years' experience in the marine industry, said the latest contract proved East Yorkshire SMEs could beat off "very stiff international competition".
"It is great a company from our area has the skills and expertise to work on such a project," he said.
"However we cannot forget the circumstances in which this happened.
"We must not forget 32 people died on the Costa Concordia and there are still three bodies on board, with potentially more unaccounted for, so it is a very sensitive operation."