Maneuvering the Costa Concordia into an upright position took incredible planning an engineering. And the execution of the plans had to be precise. In an unprecedented and painstaking process that involved massive pulleys, cables and steel tanks, the 500-person salvage crew from 26 countries rolled the 114,000-ton vessel off the rocks on which it had rested since it ran aground off the tiny island of Giglio.
The nearly $800 million effort is the largest maritime salvage operation ever, according to Costa Crochiere and its partners, Florida-based Titan Salvage and the Italian marine contractor Micoperi. Reporters and sightseers lined the port and the hillsides during the operation.
Monday's process, known as parbuckling, was the first step in the plan to remove and scrap the 952-foot ship. The Concordia was rotated onto giant platforms 30 meters (about 98 feet) below the water level, which leaves parts of the ship that have been dry for months submerged and filled with water.
No ship this large or heavy had ever been parbuckled before. Normally, crews would have blown up the ship or taken it apart on site -- a cheaper route than what's being done now. But officials say that wasn't an option with the Costa Concordia, because the ship is filled with noxious substances and the two bodies are believed to be either trapped beneath or inside the ship.
Three rare aerial views below show the CC on her side, then almost upright and finally, completely right side up.
The Costa Concordia in the position she has been in for 22 months
Pulled part way up you can clearly see the water line
Ballast boxes to stabilize the ship became flotation boxes later, when drained of water to keep her afloat
It seems impossible but the ship is afloat once more
The buckled areas are where the ship fell directly onto the rocks
Stern buckled area
Buckled area closer to the bow
The passengers, waiting to leave the ship when it ran aground. They look fairly orderly and do not seem to be panicked