IN FULL: Costa Concordia timelapse
Relieved salvage team celebrates after 19 tense hours righting the wrecked cruise ship off the rocky ledge near the Italian island of Giglio.PT1M38S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2txs6 620 349 September 18, 2013
Salvage operators have lifted the Costa Concordia cruise ship upright from its watery grave off the island of Giglio in the biggest project of its kind.
The ship's horn sounded for the first time since the tragedy on January 13 last year, its sound mixing with applause and cheers in the port in a dramatic climax to the massive salvage operation.
The 290-metre, 114,500-tonne vessel rose from the sea like a ghost ship. The side of the ship that had been underwater was rusty and brown after 20 months in the sea, contrasting with the white of the exposed side.
Costing a fortune: The Costa Concordia has been lifted off the rocks in the costliest salvage operation of its kind. Photo: AFP
''The parbuckling operation has been completed,'' said Franco Gabrielli, head of the civil protection agency and project overseer, using the technical term for the rotation.
Mr Gabrielli said the newly exposed side of the ship would require major repairs and removal of the ship for scrapping was planned for the northern spring of next year, at the earliest.
Franco Porcellacchia, an engineer for the 500-person Italian-US salvage team on Giglio, said: ''It could not have gone better than this.''
The Costa Concordia during and at the end of the "parbuckling" operation outside Giglio harbour. Photo: Reuters
The salvage is the biggest for a passenger ship ever undertaken and the position of the ship posed unique challenges to salvagers.
They have also had to take special care against spillages since Giglio is in the heart of one of Europe's biggest marine sanctuaries.
The ship was dragged up with 36 giant cables across the hull and tanks the size of 11-storey buildings welded on the side of the ship, which were filled with water to act as ballast.
The project has so far cost €600 million ($A860 million) and insurers, who are picking up the bill, estimate it could run to €825 million once it is completed.
The ship struck rocks just off Giglio after veering sharply towards the island in a bravado sail-by allegedly ordered by its captain, Francesco Schettino.
Dubbed ''Captain Coward'' for apparently abandoning the ship while passengers were still on board, Mr Schettino is currently on trial.
Four crew members and the head of ship owner Costa Crociere's crisis unit have already received prison sentences for their roles in the crash, in which 32 people were killed. The ship had 4229 people on board.