Costa Concordia salvage operator Nick Sloane on fame after righting wreck

(CBS News) Turning the Costa Concordia upright was an extraordinary feat of engineering. The cruise ship that wrecked off the coast of Italy is larger than the Titanic, and the salvage master leading the effort is being hailed as a hero by residents of the island where it hit a reef.

The story of the Costa Concordia is about a huge disaster, but it is also about two men - the captain who put the ship on the rocks, Francesco Schettino, and the man trying to get her off, Nick Sloane.

Sloane - the chief salvage master of the Costa Concordia salvage project - is the kind of guy you never hear about, but if the Italians ever brought back their monarchy, CBS News' Mark Phillips remarked, he just might be crowned King Nicholas. Having carried off the roll-over of the Costa Concordia, he's become a marine engineer rock star.

Sloane isn't used to the kind of media attention he's received in recent weeks but says he's sure it'll pass. He told Phillips, "As my wife says, 'When I get home, I still do the dishes.'"

Watch: Time lapse of Costa Concordia righted on Italian coast

It was Sloane who was convinced a ship as big as the Costa Concordia could be turned upright - a prospect many doubted. Sloane said, "No one knew exactly how much damage had been done to the hull over the last 20 months ... She has been flexing on the seaway for 20 months, and you never know when it's going to fatigue."

A lot could have happened. The boat could have broken apart. It could have twisted and not landed on the underwater platform built to catch it.


And if any of those things had happened, Sloane said there was no Plan B. He said, "Basically, when she breaks, then that becomes more a remedial measure because then all the debris and all the bedding and mattress, curtains, everything that is inside a 4,000-bed hotel comes out."

Sloane acknowledged it could have been a disaster, but as Phillips pointed out it's all in a day's work, something Sloane will likely not have trouble finding after this job.

Phillips said, "You could probably write your own ticket as the world's most famous salvage operator."

To which Sloane replied, "No, I think I will just go back home and get back into the family life."

But not yet. Sloane still has months left in Giglio, Italy, to shore up the wreck, float it and somehow tow it out of the area.

Watch Mark Phillips' report above

Comments

Follow Us

The Newsroom