After 2.5 years — and nearly $1 billion so far — the giant wreck of the Costa Concordia was lifted off the seabed today and refloated for its final journey to the scrapyard.
“The weather is good. Everyone’s ready off shore,” said Nick Sloane, the engineer and salvage master leading the effort. “So now we just have to go and take advantage of the good weather and lift her off the platforms.”
In September, the cruise ship was dragged upright after a 19-hour, first-of-its-kind engineering feat. The Concordia had been resting on six underwater platforms made of steel.
To lift the ship 6 feet today, air had to be pumped into 30 giant metal containers attached to the sides of the vessel.
It was a huge operation, one that had never been attempted.
In Jan. 13, 2012, 32 people of the 4,200 on board were killed when the cruise ship slammed into a reef near Giglio Island, off the coast of Italy.
On Sunday, an Italian official said a search would begin for the last remaining victim, an Indian waiter who had not yet been found, once the cruise ship was towed away.
Under water, decay had set in, and the ship poses an environmental danger if toxic fuel, chemicals as well as waste were spilled into the waters as the ship is salvaged.
The ship will be towed by tugs starting July 21 for several days to the Italian port of Genoa at a speed of 2 mph where it will be scrapped.
Costa Crociere SpA CEO Michael Tamm estimated that the operation would total $2 billion in the end.
ABC News’ Terry Moran contributed to this story.