The long awaited Italian parbuckling project
, the effort to upright the huge, partially submerged cruise ship Costa Concordia, slowly began Monday off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Some of the world's top engineers are attempting to make history with the salvage of the 952-foot-long ocean liner, which is two-and-a-half times the size of the Titanic, CBS News reported
. The ship struck underwater rocks after sailing too close to the shore on Jan. 13, 2012 as 32 people died and two remain missing.
The goal will be to rotate the 114,500-ton ship onto an underwater platform where it can be salvaged. Engineers told The Associated Press
in July that the cruise ship is being crushed under its own weight and realize they have reached a point of now or never for the project.
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"The size of the ship and her location make this the most challenging operation I've ever been involved in," Nick Sloane, the South African senior salvage master of the operation and project leader for contractors Titan Salvage, told CBS News.
Sloane said initially pulling the ship off the rock will be the most important part of the operation.
"We are not sure about the actual weight and how much the rocks are going to hold onto her," Sloane told CBS. "We will be carefully watching all the accelerometers and we will be increasing the tension very slowly until she comes off."
Weather has slowed the massive effort, including thunderstorms Monday morning, according to the AP. Engineers using remote controls will begin guiding a complex synchronized leverage system of pulleys and counterweights to loop huge chains under the Concordia's body and gently nudge the ship free from its rocky bottom.
Even though the shipwreck happened nearly 20 months ago, it still evokes strong feelings in Italy. The Concordia's captain Capt. Francesco Schettino, who guided the Concordia when it was wrecked, claims the reef was not identified on nautical charts.
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Schettino is currently is on trial in Italy for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship ahead of passengers during the chaotic and delayed evacuation, the AP reported.
Costa Crociere SpA, the Italian unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., has reported the cost of salvage to run about $800 million.
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