July 15 - Yesterday saw the start of the refloating of the wreck of the Costa Concordia, which will soon be towed away and broken up for scrap.

One of the largest salvage operations in history saw air, which was pumped into 30 sponsons attached around the hull of the ship, force water out of the sponsons, lifting the vessel off an underwater platform on which it had rested for about a year.

The initial refloat involved lifting Costa Concordia about 2 metres up off the platform, moving the hull slightly with tugs and then securely mooring it so that the last cables and chains can be attached and tensioned, and the starboard sponsons lowered to their final position.

The actual refloating process will see the ship raised one deck at a time.

Dutch company Conquest Offshore has in recent months, in cooperation with a large group of international companies, helped to install the sponsons that are being used to refloat Costa Concordia. For this it used its crane barge Conquest MB1 which has a 1,400 tonne capacity full revolving crane, 36 m x 136 m deck area with a minimum of 20 tonnes per sq m and small working depth of 3.5 m.

During the forthcoming towage to Genoa, Conquest MB1 will be close at hand and ready to provide any additional assistance.

It has been more than two years since Costa Concordia capsized off the Italian coast, killing 32 people.