The Costa Concordia, which capsized off the coast of Italy in January, is expected to take a year to salvage, the owners of the wrecked liner said on Saturday.
Costa Crociere SpA said the plan was to salvage the ship in one piece, towing it to an Italian port. The operation will begin early next month.
The cruise ship remains semi-submerged off the island of Giglio. A total of 32 passengers and crew died in the accident and another two remain missing and are presumed dead.
The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest and is being investigated on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning a vessel under his command.
The Costa Concordia, which cost £372m to build and was launched in 2005, has a gross tonnage of 114,500 and is 290m in length.
Costa said the company Titan Salvage had won a bid to remove the ship and that environmental protection would be a “top priority”. The vessel’s fuel was removed in March.
Pier Luigi Foschi, Costa’s chief executive, said in a statement: “As was the case with the removal of the fuel, we have sought to identify the best solution to safeguard the island and its marine environment and to protect its tourism.”
The company has sought to distance itself from Schettino and have said he made an unauthorised manouevre that took him too close to the Giglio.
Schettino has claimed that a reef off the shore of the island wasn’t on his navigational charts.
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