Just two and a half years after the devastating shipwreck that left over 30 people dead, the Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, is floating again. And a local company is playing a huge role in the process.
VideoRay, a robotics company based out of Pottstown, Montgomery County, is providing the Remotely Operated Vehicles – ROVs -- used throughout the re-floating operation.
“They’re kind of like a swimming-camera-robot,” marketing coordinator Kate McGarry said. “They’re built to look like marine life, kind of shaped like a stingray.”
According to McGarry, the ROVs can access areas human divers can’t. For the Costa Concordia project, they have a very specific role.
“Our part in the towing will be to monitor all underwater activity,” McGarry said. “It’s a very dangerous and very difficult operation, so our main job is to keep everyone safe.”
Costa Condordia capsized off the coast of Tuscany in 2012 when it veered off course and hit something underwater. More than 4,200 souls were on board. Thirty-two people died and the captain was criminally charged for abandoning his ship.
There are three major players in the salvage operation, which is the largest ship salvage in history. VideoRay provides the ROVs to monitor the project, Titan Salvage is in charge of recovering the ship, and Crowley is in charge of towing the remains.
However, this isn’t the first time the Pottstown-based company has supplied ROVs for a large-scale operation.
“We went to Korea to work on the South Korean ferry disaster,” she said. “We sent two people with ROVs to help look for victims. It was really dark and really cold, so it was hard to get divers in there.”
McGarry said their ROVs also went into the Lusitania a couple of years ago, accessing areas that hadn’t been seen since the ship went down nearly 100 years ago.
“They’re very user friendly,” she said. “We offer a three day training program, but people get the grasp of the system with very minimal training.”