Survivors Commemorate 10th Anniversary of the Costa Concordia Disaster

costa concordia day after
The Costa Concordia and her lifeboats at Giglio, Italy, Jan. 14, 2012 (Roberto Vongher / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Published Jan 13, 2022 10:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

On January 13, residents of the Tuscan island of Giglio joined survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster to commemorate the cruise ship's grounding, which occured 10 years ago this Wednesday evening. 

At about 2145 hours on January 13, 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground on a shoal just off Giglio, damaging her hull. In a maneuver described later as a “salute” to a retired cruise line commodore, Capt. Francesco Schettino had brought the Costa Concordia close in to the island - too close. When she struck bottom, flooding disabled the main engines and she drifted in to shore, eventually coming to rest on the rocks. This set off a chaotic evacuation of 4,229 passengers and crew, and while most survived, 32 people died in the minutes and hours that followed.

In 2015, Capt. Schettino was convicted of multiple counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years. Investigators severely criticized his handling of the disaster, accusing him of delaying evacuation and abandoning ship before all the passengers and crew had been rescued.

The vessel herself took years of effort and $1.4 billion in funding to refloat, remove and demolish. It was the most sophisticated and complex salvage operation ever attempted, and the record for cost still stands. 

Litigation over the casualty continued as recently as last year, and may soon be revived. Codacons, a consumer rights association based in Genoa, recently won $105,000 in compensation for a Costa Concordia survivor for traumatic stress. The group says that it is open to the possibility of initiating more legal action against Costa Cruises, with hopes of obtaining compensation for harms suffered by other survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster. 

Antimo Magnotta, the ship's pianist, recently told Sky News that he still suffers from insomnia and flashbacks, 10 years after the capsizing. One of Magnotta's colleagues on board, a violinist, lost his life that night; he had gone down to his cabin before the grounding occurred and did not make it out. "I just thought to myself what if it had been the other way round?" Magnotta said. "This has haunted me for a long time."

On Wednesday evening, a group of survivors and residents walked down to the pier in Giglio's harbor in a candlelight procession. At 2145 hours local time, they placed a wreath at the pier and held a prayer vigil as church bells rang out to commemorate the 32 people who lost their lives that night. A patrol vessel of the Italian Coast Guard (Guardia Costiera) also placed a wreath over the wreck site (below).