Falmouth-based marine drilling company Fugro Seacore has been awarded a large contract by Titan-Micoperi to contribute to the recovery of the Costa Concordia, the stricken Italian cruise liner that sank just off the Italian coast in January 2012.

Titan-Micoperi is a consortium of the world renowned American salvage experts Titan Salvage and major offshore Italian contractor Micoperi. Raising the liner, which is twice as heavy as the Titanic, from two giant rock outcrops in the sea has been described as one of the toughest marine recovery operations in modern history.

Fugro Seacore will drill the offshore foundations for six platforms, the three largest platforms equaling the size of a rugby pitch. The Costa Concordia will be rolled upright (par-buckled) on to the platforms, before it will be re-floated and taken away from the protected Tuscan marine environment in which it lies.

A highly experienced team of 12 local Fugro Seacore professional staff from Falmouth, Helston and Penzance has been working on a shift basis, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, and living on board a Micoperi Construction Vessel (M-30), moored next to the ocean liner, to ensure the project is completed to specification and safely.

The ship lies in a precarious position on the edge of a slope of rock and there are concerns that it could slide into a 100m deep water channel in the event of a severe winter storm. Divers have been employed to fix subsea drill templates, weighing over 200 tons, to the seabed to hold the drill bits in place to ensure the drilling procedure is as secure as possible.

Fugro Seacore’s design team in Falmouth started work with their Titan-Micoperi counterparts to design custom-built equipment for the job after being awarded the contract last September. All 21 foundation sockets are expected to be drilled early in the year, ready for the platform to be installed and the ship to be re-floated this summer.

Sam Whitaker from Fugro Seacore said "the sheer toughness of the granite seabed makes this a difficult task, but our Cornish team is very experienced and working as hard as possible.

"They have worked together on many similar drilling projects across the world for jetties, bridge foundations and offshore turbines, but this project is on an unprecedented scale. Fortunately we have been fueled by a healthy diet of pasta and pizza, but we’re starting to miss a good Cornish pasty.”