Costa Concordia raised upright (VIDEO)



A picture taken on September 17, 2013 shows the wreck of the Costa Concordia as it begins to emerge from water near the Italian island of Giglio. Salvage operators lifted the cruise ship upright from its watery grave in the biggest ever project of its kind.



Engineers have managed to raise the Costa Concordia upright from the rocks where it has lain since coming aground off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012. 

After working throughout Monday and late into the night, officials declared the cruise ship fully upright just after 4 a.m. Tuesday, Reuters reported

Franco Porcellacchia, leader of the technical team for the ship's owner, Costa Cruise, described the operation as "perfect."

In an unprecedented salvage mission that began around 9 a.m. Monday, engineers first lifted the wreck clear of rocks and onto a specially constructed platform, the Associated Press reported.

From there, they winched the 114,500-ton ship off its side and back into an upright position with the help of a system of pulleys and counterweights, in a process known as parbuckling.

The operation, which according to the BBC has never before been attempted on a ship of this size lying so close to land, had been expected to take between 10 to 12 hours in total but ended up taking closer to 19.

It was crucial to go slowly to avoid further straining the ship's hull, which is weakened after 20 months exposed and partially underwater as the Concordia lay on her side. There were concerns that the damaged ship could leak pollution into the sea as it was moved, but officials said Tuesday there was no sign so far of any major spill.

Next the wreck will be inspected, patched up, refloated, towed and eventually scrapped.

According to Reuters, the 600-million-euro ($801.15 million) salvage operation is expected to prove the most expensive maritime wreck recovery in history.

Watch a time-lapse video of the operation here, courtesy of Channel 4 News: