The Costa Concordia, a giant cruise liner that capsized back in 2012, is being pulled upright Monday in a complicated operation, the first of its kind to be attempted with a ship this big.
The ship, which is 950 foot long and weighs over twice as much as the Titanic, is being raised using a technique known as "parbuckling," which sounds like something exciting that pirates would do, but is actually just a term for rotating a sunken ship into an upright position. The process is complex, though, involving massive cables, counterweights and even a floating crane operated by remote controls. Cameras attached to five submarines (that are also being remotely operated by engineers) are even relaying back images to the crew to allow progress to be monitored.
"The images and sounds will allow the engineers to make adjustments depending on any twist and torsion arising on the ship," a statement from the engineering consortium said.
The tricky operation started at roughly 9 AM Monday — by midday, the ship's hull had been extracted from the reef, and the hope is that by tomorrow, the whole thing should be over and done.
"Our estimate of 12 hours remains valid, although it will depend on the behaviour of the wreck," said Sergio Girotto, a senior engineer from the Italian salvage company which is co-leading the operation.
The Concordia, which was carrying 4,200 passengers, crashed into a reef on the coastline of Giglio, Tuscany, in Januray 2012, tearing a 230-foot hole into the ship, and leaving thirty-two people dead, as well as two people missing.
"It will set the new standard for maritime salvage," the project's engineering manager told CNN.
Hundreds of people from over 21 different countries have been preparing for this operation for months. If all goes well lifting the ship, the engineers will use hydraulic pumps to fill tanks on the bottom of the ship with air, so that it can be towed away next year. After that? It'll be broken up for scrap in an Italian port.
Click here for a great graphic explanation of how the operation will go down.