Man who helped to raise capsized Concordia

The Costa Concordia
The Costa Concordia

A Scarborough man has played a key role in helping to raise the shipwrecked Costa Concordia off Italy.

Stuart McNiven, managing director of Dalby Offshore, and his 32-strong team helped to construct a concrete platform which was used to stabilise the cruise ship before it was set upright earlier this week.

Mr McNiven, a Class 1 Master Mariner with extensive experience in the marine industry, lives near Cloughton.His Beverley-based firm is also providing floating accommodation and around-the-clock support for around 100 workers involved in the multi-national operation on its vessel The Pioneer, preparing up to 20,000 meals a month.

The Costa Concordia capsized off Giglio in January last year, killing 32 people. But months of planning came to fruition when the vessel was set upright in an unprecedented operation which took all of Monday and most of the night.

Cables and metal water tanks were used to roll the 114,500 ton vessel onto a platform which had been put in place.

The operation has also brought an economic boost for Whitby, with up to eight tonnes of meat being shipped in to Italy from a butcher’s.

Cables and metal water tanks were used to roll the 114,500 ton vessel onto a platform which had been put in place.

Known in nautical parlance as parbuckling, it is a proven method to raise capsized vessels and was used by the US military to rescue the USS Oklahoma after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Salvage master Nick Sloan said afterwards: “I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved because a lot of people didn’t think it could be done.”

There are now hopes that the bodies of two of the missing victims may now be found.

Months of work now lie ahead for the salvage team as they assess and repair damage to the ship, before it can be towed away to be destroyed, most likely next spring. It is expected that Dalby Offshore will remain involved in the operation and help with the clean-up afterwards.

Scarborough mayor Cllr Andrew Backhouse has been keeping a close eye on the proceedings in Italy as his neighbour, Adrian Owenson, is also involved in the operation with Dalby Offshore as are two other people that he knows of in the Scarborough areas, Mark Staveley and Rob Atkinson.

“It’s puts a smile on your face that a locally-based company has been supporting this huge international opertation which I would say is a first for a vessel of this size,” said Cllr Backhouse.

“It makes you think ‘good for you’ that you’ve proved yourself on a world stage and in the glare of the world’s media. To think Scarborough is a small sea-side town and we have got the guy who taken the risk in his life and proved that he can do it in working at the highest level.”

Others among the 32-strong workforce who are involved in marine operations and catering on The Pioneer and other vessels include father and son Dave and Richard Straw, of Whitby, and Neil Cammish, of Filey.

The Scarborough News understands that Mr McNiven and Dalby Offshore was requested personally by Mr Sloan to help with the Costa Concordia having previously worked together on other projects during the years.

The company was formed in August 2007 and initially focused on the management of anchor handling tug and supply vessels, operating vessels on offshore Brazil, Venezuela, Tunisia, South Africa and on managed projects in the Far East.

It branched out into the Renewables sector in 2010 and now assists in offshore Renewables and offshore oil and gas support, operate wind farm support vessels

The captain of the Concordia, Francesco Schettino is on trial on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship during the evacuation.