Globe-trotting SA man behind Italy salvage

2013-09-14 08:15
Senior salvage master Nick Sloane briefs journalists on an engineering manoeuvre to salvage the Costa Concordia shipwreck on the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. (Andrew Medichini, AP)

Senior salvage master Nick Sloane briefs journalists on an engineering manoeuvre to salvage the Costa Concordia shipwreck on the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. (Andrew Medichini, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

Concordia underwater

2013-09-13 15:43

Watch as divers explore the wreckage of the Costa Concordia ahead of attempts to raise the ill-fated cruise liner.WATCH

Rome - After rescuing a burning ship from pirate-infested waters off Yemen and a sinking oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, South African salvage master Nick Sloane faces his biggest test off an idyllic Mediterranean island.

The 52-year-old says the attempt to raise the Costa Concordia cruise ship from its watery grave, due to begin on Monday, is his "most challenging" yet in a career that has taken him to six continents and two warzones.

The Zambia-born Sloane was flown to the Italian island of Giglio last year from New Zealand, where he was working on a spill from the MV Rena oil tanker, for the biggest ever salvage operation of a passenger ship.

He has led an international operation with 500 salvage workers including divers, welders and engineers operating 24 hours a day around the rusting 290m hulk, which is bigger than the Titanic.

When the lifting of the 114 500-ton ship gets under way, Sloane will be the one giving the commands from a control room on the shore and monitoring the unprecedented operation through eight monitors.

The ruddy salvage master hit a low point last year when storms hampered the operation and there were serious difficulties drilling into the granite seabed to install a metal platform to hold the ship stable.

"There was a lot of questioning. 'Are you sure it's going to work?' 'This is crazy!'" he remembers.

Work has sped up since then and Sloane has said he is confident of success, while remaining realistic

The most serious risk is buckling in the hull as the luxury liner is dragged upright, which Sloane has compared to a "banana" effect - the extent of which will only become clear as the operation is underway.

"There's a lot of unknown factors about the ship. We've made a lot of assumptions," he admits.

Sloane has warned that the hull is slowly compressing in on itself and that now is the last chance to lift the Costa Concordia before it collapses too much.

"You can't afford to wait. Time is your worst enemy," he says, warning about the large swells expected once winds known as the sirocco hit the island in autumn.

Sloane, who had initially hoped to right the ship in time to float it in time for US Independence Day on 4 July ith a big fireworks display, said he had a celebratory cigar at the ready.

"I'm going to stand on deck and smoke this as she's finally towed away," he told AFP during one recent visit, pulling the cigar out of his pocket at a port-side bar.

Sloane is no stranger to spectacular accidents at sea.

He began his career in 1980 working on the tugs of Safmarine, a South African salvage company.

His first major job was the salvage of the Castillo de Bellver, a burning Spanish tanker filled with 252 000 tons of crude stranded off the coast of South Africa.

He worked his way up the ranks in the industry and was promoted to the position of salvage master in 1991.

He was part of a team that went in with the US Navy's salvage division to repair damaged pipelines and oil infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq immediately after the US-led invasions and has worked in Russia to build a giant oil pipeline for Kazakh crude.

He has dealt with accidents that caused some of the worst oil spills in the world in recent years.

In 2011, he was involved in a risky operation when he helped secure the Brillante Virtuoso tanker, which was attacked by pirates off Yemen and set on fire.

Sloane is a consummate raconteur and is fond of showing off pictures on his mobile phone immortalising moments of bravado in far-flung parts of the world.

The Costa Concordia project appears mild in comparison but there has been pressure from environmentalists over the potential for toxic spillage as the ship is being raised in what is a pristine marine sanctuary.

While there are no golf courses to keep up his favourite hobby, there is at least some solace for the work hard, play hard South African: the location is Tuscany, homeland of his favourite Chianti wine.

Read more on:    italy  |  cruise liner disaster
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Health
 

LOL! Best outdoor girl fails

It’s not only guys who have FAIL moments! Here are some of the funniest outdoor fails where girls are the victims!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

90-year-old's incredible travels
10 facts about swimming you didn't know
Halloween night run
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

(1001110) - Developer - ASP.Net (CPT) (PARVANA)

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Parvana

Junior Equity Analyst

Cape Town
SET Recruitment Consultants
R250 000 - R350 000 Per Year

Office Manager

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Hi-Tech Recruitment - Johannesburg
R15 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be some tension that is caused through social conflicts -- personal interests versus obligations. You may feel an...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.