Italy cruise wreck turned upright in unique salvage
SHOTLIST: GIGLIO ISLAND, ITALY, SEPT 17, 2013, SOURCE: AFPTV -VAR of the Costa Concordia -VAR of the parbuckling operation SOUNDBITE 1 Nick Sloane (man), chief salvage master, Titan Salvage (English, 5 sec): "Yeah, I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved, because a lot of people said it couldn't be done." SOUNDBITE 2 Nick Sloane (man), chief salvage master, Titan Salvage (English, 14 sec) "Well, mostly, without all the shipyards and fabrication facilities, and everything being delivered on time, we wouldn't be here today, so... There's very few countries in the world that could support that much fabrication in the timeline that was done." SOUNDBITE 3 Franco Gabrielli (man), head of the civil protection agency and project overseer (Italian, 51 sec): "The fact that the ship is lifted is beyond words. But the cruise ship is still here, we haven't finished yet. It must be displaced somewhere else, so there's still a lot of work to do but this is the first significant, obvious and undisputable result of a work that lasted 20 months." GIGLIO ISLAND, ITALY, SEPT 16, 2013, SOURCE: AFP - Various timelapse of the Costa Concordia salvage operation /// ------------------------------------------------- AFP TEXT STORY: Italy cruise wreck turned upright in unique salvage / Giglio Island (Italy) - 17 September 2013 11:51 - AFP (Laure BRUMONT) Salvage operators in Italy lifted the Costa Concordia cruise ship upright from its watery grave off the island of Giglio on Tuesday in the biggest ever project of its kind. The sound of ship horns sounded across the water in celebration, mixing with applause and cheers in the port in a climax to the 19-hour operation. The 290-metre (951-foot), 114,500-ton vessel -- longer than the Titanic and more than twice as heavy -- rose from the sea like a ghost ship. The side of the giant ship that had been underwater was rusty and brown 20 months on from the Janaury 13, 2012 tragedy, contrasting with the brilliant white on the exposed side. "The parbuckling operation has been completed," said Franco Gabrielli, head of the civil protection agency and project overseer, using the technical term for the rotation. Gabrielli said the newly exposed side would require "major repairs" and removal of the ship for scrapping is planned only for the spring of next year at the earliest. Local residents and survivors spoke of an eerie feeling as the ship rose, saying it reminded them of the way the ship looked on the night of the tragedy that claimed 32 lives. "Seeing it re-emerge is emotional for me," said Luciano Castro, a survivor who travelled to the picturesque island to witness the salvage. "I could not miss it. That ship could have been my end and instead I am here to tell the story," he said. The salvage is the biggest for a passenger ship ever undertaken and the position of the hulk posed unique challenges to the 500-person international salvage team. They also had to take special care since Giglio is in the heart of one of Europe's biggest marine sanctuaries. The ship was dragged up with 36 cables across the hull and tanks the size of 11-storey buildings welded on the side of the ship which were filled with water to act as ballast. The project has so far cost 600 million euros ($800 million) and insurers, who are picking up the bill, estimate it could run to $1.1 billion once it is completed. The man who gave the orders from a control room on a barge next to the ship was Nick Sloane, a South African with experience on some of the world's biggest shipwrecks. "I'm relieved. It was a bit of a rollercoaster," a smiling Sloane said as he was mobbed by dozens of journalists and well-wishers in the port before a celebratory drink. "The scale of it was something we've never seen before," he said. Admiral Stefano Tortora, who took part in the operation, said: "The condition it's in is really shocking. It is disturbing because you are looking at a tragedy." Giglio islanders said they were happy at the prospect of the ship finally being refloated and towed away. "All the inhabitants are hoping and waiting," said Giovanna Rum, owner of a maritime clothing shop on the island. The Costa Concordia struck rocks just off Giglio after veering sharply towards the island in a bravado sail-by allegedly ordered by its captain, Francesco Schettino. Dubbed "Captain Coward" and "Italy's most hated man" in the tabloids for apparently abandoning ship while passengers were still on board, Schettino is currently on trial. Four crew members and the head of ship owner Costa Crociere's crisis unit have already been handed short prison sentences for their roles in the crash. The ship had 4,229 people from 70 countries on board. It keeled over within sight of Giglio's port but the order to abandon the vessel came more than an hour later. After several lifeboats failed to function, hundreds were forced to either jump into the water and swim ashore or lower themselves along the exposed hull to waiting boats. The bodies of Indian waiter Russell Rebello and Italian passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi were never recovered. Their loved ones were expected on Giglio later on Tuesday ahead of a new search due to be launched for the corpses. Elio Vincenzi, Trecarichi's husband, said: "I am filled with hope. I am still hoping to find my wife. This is a tense wait for me and for my daughter." END
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"I think it's as good as anything we've ever done," Pat DiNizio says of Smithereens 2011, the Smithereens' first album of original songs in 11 years. "I hate to use the term 'comeback album,' and it certainly wasn't planned that way, but it really feels like it," adds his longtime bandmate Jim Babjak. "It has the raw vibe of our early albums, while showing that we're moving forward and that we're still at the top of our game after 31 years." Indeed, the 13-song set shows the New Jersey-bred quartet to be making some of the most urgent music of their three-decade career, delivering their timeless brand of punchy, heartfelt rock 'n' roll with as much fire as ever. Such instantly memorable new tunes as "Sorry," "One Look At You," "A World of Our Own" and "Rings On Her Fingers" exemplify the Smithereens' trademark brand of punchy melodic songcraft, driven home by DiNizio's expressive vocals and emotionally complex lyrics, along with fiery ensemble performances that show off the uncanny musical chemistry of longstanding musical partners DiNizio, Babjak and Dennis Diken, and later addition Severo "the Thrilla" Jornacion, who joined in 2006. Smithereens 2011's title slyly acknowledges the fact that it's the band's 11th studio album, and that it's been 11 years since their last collection of original material. The album's moniker—as well as its cover design—also pays tribute to the foursome's beloved 1989 release Smithereens 11. Smithereens 2011 also reunites the group with revered producer and kindred musical spirit Don Dixon, who was at the helm for the Smithereens' breakthrough 1986 debut album Especially for You and its much-loved 1988 follow-up Green Thoughts, as well as 1994's acclaimed A Date with the Smithereens. The band inaugurated the new album's birth cycle by spending a month hammering their new compositions into shape at the same 12-dollar-an-hour East Village rehearsal space where they'd rehearsed in the 1980s. They then recorded the bulk of Smithereens 2011 in an action-packed three days with Dixon and his frequent collaborator Mitch Easter, who served as the album's engineer, at Easter's legendary Fidelitorium studio in Kernersville, North Carolina. "We pretty much picked up where we left off with Don," Diken notes. "He's a super musical guy with great ears, and he has lots of good ideas for the arrangements. He knows our strengths as individuals and as a team, and he has the know-how to capture the essence of who we are and what we do. But basically, he puts us in the studio, mics us up and lets us go to work." After the band returned from North Carolina, additional recording was done at DiNizio's house in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. "There was no pressure, no rush," says DiNizio. "We didn't have a deadline, so the album was allowed to evolve organically and find its own level." The resulting album is a consistently riveting distillation of the qualities that set the Smithereens apart from the pack when they first emerged in the 1980s, and which have continued to endear the band to a large and fiercely loyal fan base in the years since. The Smithereens' three-decade history is a story of substance, integrity and persistence triumphing over shallow artifice and transient trendiness—of hard-working underdogs achieving success on their own terms by sticking to their guns and ignoring the dictates of pop fashion and music-industry convention. Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and original bassist Mike Mesaros grew up in Carteret, New Jersey, forging a friendship as teenagers through a mutual love of '60s rock 'n' roll and other vintage sounds. After meeting the similarly inclined DiNizio, the four formed the Smithereens, and won some local renown with a pair of independently released EPs, 1980's Girls About Town and 1983's Beauty and Sadness. The Smithereens were already a seasoned live act by the time they achieved surprise commercial success in 1986 with their first full album Especially for You, with spawned the MTV hits "Blood and Roses" and "Behind the Wall of Sleep." The band continued to reap considerable airplay, critical acclaim and fan loyalty with the subsequent longplayers Green Thoughts, Smithereens 11, Blow Up, A Date with The Smithereens and God Save The Smithereens, which yielded such enduring numbers as "Only a Memory," "House We Used to Live In," "Drown in My Own Tears" and "A Girl Like You." Smithereens 2011 caps an extended period during which the Smithereens limited their recording efforts to a series of thematic releases that paid homage to the group's formative influences. They tipped their collective hat to the Beatles with the twin Fab Four tributes Meet The Smithereens! and B-Sides The Beatles, and honored The Who with The Smithereens Play Tommy. The band also delivered a memorable seasonal set with the holiday-themed Christmas with the Smithereens, and affirmed its status as one of rock's most powerful performing units with Live In Concert!, recorded on stage in the band's home state. "I didn't realize how fast the time flew by since the last time we made a record of our own songs," Babjak observes. "But we never stopped playing live, and we've released five albums in the past four years, so it's not like we haven't been working." The band members also engaged in an array of extracurricular projects during the years between God Save the Smithereens, their previous collection of originals, and Smithereens 2011. DiNizio released a string of solo albums, became a satellite-radio personality, and emerged as a pioneer in the house-concert field by playing solo acoustic shows in fans' homes. Babjak worked with his side combo Buzzed Meg. Diken released an album with his new project Dennis Diken with Bell Sound, played on album by a variety of artists ranging from Tommy James and Ronnie Spector to the Minus 5 and Amy Rigby, and put his encyclopedic knowledge of pop history to work on a multitude of writing projects. Through it all, the Smithereens have maintained a busy performing schedule, preserving their reputation as one of rock's hardest-working live bands, and continuing to thrill the devoted fan base that's stuck with them over the years. "These days, the band is playing as well as we've ever played, with more focus and more intensity," DiNizio asserts, adding, "We still feel like we have something to prove. We have to hit a grand slam every night, and we have to be twice as good as bands half our age. And we've got this body of work that spans over 30 years, so we'll play at least two, two-and-a-half hours every night and bang through the songs like a freight train." The same qualities that have endeared the Smithereens to their fans over the years—and allowed the band to outlast the various fads and trends have come and gone during that time—are prominent on Smithereens 2011, which marks the beginning of an exciting new phase for the band. "We really played our hearts out when we recorded these songs, and I think that that comes across on the album," Diken says. "We have a lot of fans who've been with us since the beginning. But I've also been amazed at how many people at our recent shows have told us that they were seeing us for the first time. I think that this record will speak to both generations." "One of the beautiful things about this new record is that now, in the current music-industry environment, we can do exactly what we want to do," DiNizio states. "Radio as we knew it in 1986 no longer exists, so we don't have to think about making things acceptable for the radio. The rulebook has been thrown away, which liberates us to just make the records that we want to hear. That's basically what we've always done, but now the gloves are really off."
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