One of the joys of scuba diving is having the opportunity to explore a sunken wreck—of which there are many dotted all over the seas of the world. However, many sunken wrecks date back from several hundred years ago and are little more than a rotting timber carcass covered in seaweed and full of marine life, so anything larger represents a greater challenge and is automatically more interesting as a result.
Scuba diving in and around a sunken cruise liner is probably not something most scuba divers can ever expect to try, but for some brave (or foolish) divers, the wreck of the Costa Concordia is proving to be very attractive—for all the wrong reasons.
Cruise holidays are popular with all age groups—instead of staying in one place for a week or two, you can sail the seas and enjoy a luxurious all-inclusive holiday, waking up to a different view every day. But at the end of the day, a cruise ship is just a large boat, and like any boat, when something goes wrong it is in danger of sinking—which is exactly what happened to the luxury cruise ship, the Costa Concordia.
Sadly the Costa Concordia ran aground on January 13th of this year. To date, thirty people are known to have died as a result of the accident, but two others are still missing and therefore presumed dead also. Because of the huge size of the vessel, although efforts were made to recover bodies from the vessel as soon as was practicable, further salvage operations are expected to take at least twelve months, which means the stricken cruise ship is still lying in the water off the Italian coast.
If a derelict building was left unattended, you might expect looters to strip everything of value from it under the cover of darkness, but in the case of the Costa Concordia, it would be reasonable to assume that the wreck was safe from looters, given its inaccessibility. But apparently not! Opportunist scuba diving looters have been heading to the area to steal anything of value they can find on the half submerged vessel.
Police divers have recently discovered that a large number of items have been taken, including pictures, clocks, and even furniture. Scuba diving thieves have even smashed windows of on-board shops and boutiques so they could reach the expensive jewellery and watches. Shortly after the accident the brass ship bell which hung on the bridge of the ship was stolen too.
Prosecutors from Grosseto are now investigating the thefts and are hoping to be able to identify the culprits before any further items are removed from the ship.