Cocoa man helps with refloating of Costa Concordia

Published On: Jul 16 2014 01:05:03 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2014 01:05:14 PM EDT

Photo courtesy of Florida Today.

COCOA, Fla. -

A Cocoa man has played a small role in the big job of this week's refloating of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship just off the coast of Giglio, Italy, according to Local 6 partner Florida Today.

Chalk it up as another global adventure for Steve Van Meter, a former NASA employee who works as an independent consultant for VideoRay.

VideoRay is a Pottstown, Pa.-based company that makes basketball-sized radio-operated vehicles (ROVs) for tasks involving law enforcement, environmental protection and salvage jobs such as the Costa Concordia. Van Meter is working with a $45,000 ROV controlled by a laptop computer that had been peering around the ship while it was underwater to make sure the raising efforts went as planned.

The Concordia struck a reef in January 2012 and capsized, leading to the deaths of 32 people. The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Van Meter said there has been some interest in the big project around Giglio but the anger that initially came with the ship's wreck seems to have subsided.

"This is my second trip to Giglio," Van Meter told FLORIDA TODAY by e-mail. "I was here in October 2012, less than a year from the sinking. I have noticed that the Italians don't seem too concerned about the wreck now. The island is a major destination for Italians, and there are many tourists here enjoying the sunshine and ignoring the wreck."

On Monday, salvage crews pumped air into 30 large tanks attached around the hull. That lifted the hulk from the reef. Tug boats then moved the ship — owned by Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp. — several miles to prepare it for its journey to Genoa to be broken up for scrap.

But all of that could not have taken place without detailed information on the ship's condition before the floating.

"In order to place a bid on a wreck salvage job, you need to have detailed information on its condition," said Scott Bentley, president of VideoRay. "This was a large part of Steve's mission. During salvage, as in the case with the Concordia, you need to assist divers, assess conditions, plan dives, and assure that fixtures and equipment are in place and secured."

So far this year, Van Meter has completed missions in Thailand, Malaysia, the UK and Turkey for VideoRay. After Italy, he's off on another mission to New Zealand.

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