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USC Viterbi grad student learns by salvaging

The Costa Concordia salvage operation in Italy (Photo/courtesty of Titan Salvage)

When the Costa Concordia cruise chip hit a rock off Isola del Giglio in Italy last January, a 53-meter-long gash was made in its hull, cutting off power to the engines and ship services.

Now 20 months later, a more than $670-million salvage operation led by Titan Salvage is underway to help the partially sunken ship. USC Viterbi School of Engineering graduate student Roland De Marco has been helping with the project since January, when he started interning with the marine salvage and wreck removal company.

“First they’ll flip the ship over, and then next year they’ll float it off and drag it away,” De Marco explained.

The ship was successfully righted on Sept. 17, but the project is a multistage effort that won’t be completed until summer 2014.

“How to Save a Cruise Ship” from Slate

As part of his internship, De Marco, then an undergraduate student at the Webb Institute in New York, created designs for systems that would help blow the water out of the ship and ballast it back up. After he graduated with his bachelor’s in naval architecture and marine engineering, Titan Salvage hired him full time.

De Marco spent this past summer at the wreckage site, helping commission and build the sponsons that supported the ship when it was moved to an upright position.

“I also designed a fire system so that when the ship is refloated it has a fire system in place with pumps, which also doubles as a cooling system for generators and compressors,” he said.

Currently, the salvage team is building winterization infrastructure so that all the work from the summer will not be destroyed by the intense waves of the winter months.

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USC Viterbi grad student learns by salvaging

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