SEAHORSE– Something Extraordinary -Giovanni Ceccarelli and the Costa Concordia
The whole world saw the time-lapse video of the Costa Concordia’s
righting operation on television: it was a mammoth task on a
scale never attempted before, the consequence of some great
teamwork. This also included well-known Italian raceboat designer
Giovanni Ceccarelli (who designed ACC yachts for Mascalzone Latino
and +39 Challenge), who proposed the original rotation and refloating
solution to contractors Titan Micoperi.
But why was a well-established yacht designer onboard the
Micoperi 30 crane platform, helping to direct the recovery operation
of the giant Costa Concordia? ‘I understand the surprise of
those who know Ceccarelli Yacht Design for all of the sailing and
motor yachts we have designed since the 1950s, when the firm
was founded by my father Epaminonda,’ says Giovanni.
‘However, in our many years of work CYD have also designed
a number of marinas and offshore platforms. But the real reason
why I’m currently here is more emotional: when the accident occurred
I thought – and I was not alone in this – that the whole Italian
seafaring culture had taken a very hard knock in terms of how
we are regarded on the global stage. Therefore, I had the idea
that it was Italy who should now find the solution for the removal
of the wreck.
‘This is the largest operation of its kind ever attempted, so
there was no specific know-how already in place. At the time we
started work I also didn’t even have much knowledge about salvage
companies in general.’
Ceccarelli’s role is engineering manager. ‘I am the person
who co-ordinates all the various engineering activities,’ he explains,
‘and who shares the strategic choices with the client – the ship
owner Costa Crociere – and with the senior salvage master,
Mike Sloane, the man who is ultimately responsible for righting and
refloating the vessel.
‘Sloane is also himself a racing yachtsman. He is a South African
and was involved in the initial stages of the Shosholoza challenge
in addition to taking part in a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
These shared roots give the two of us more affinity when we are
working side by side.
‘Going back to my own role, I had the original idea for the project’s
solution that has since been employed, but it was then of course
engineered by pretty much everyone involved. This is not just a
project for marine engineers, environmental or civil, but it is an
undertaking to which all these figures contribute, with the addition
of numerous other professions, including several top-level structural
So has the experience of yacht design and sailing been of
help in some creative problem solving? ‘The approach to this
giant problem has demanded successful innovation on every single
day and at every single level,’ says Ceccarelli .