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Wrecked Costa Concordia sets sail on final voyage

By Barbie Latza Nadeau, for CNN
updated 10:47 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The vessel is being towed to the Italian port of Genoa
  • Dismantling the cruise ship could take two years
  • 32 passengers and crew were killed when the ship capsized in 2012

Giglio, Italy (CNN) -- The wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship has begun its final voyage.

Salvage crews refloated the ship last week so they can move it from its resting place off Giglio Island to the Italian port of Genoa to be dismantled.

On Wednesday morning, the rusting hulk set off into open waters under tow.

Attached to its sides are the huge steel hollow boxes, or sponsons, that were pumped full of compressed air to give the ship buoyancy.

It's been more than 2½ years since the ship ran aground off Giglio Island with more than 4,200 passengers aboard, killing 32 people in a disaster that drew global attention.

Costa Concordia wreckage afloat again
Costa Concordia's painful legacy
The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed to the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, July 27, to be scrapped, ending the ship's final journey two and a half years after it capsized at a cost of 32 lives. The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed to the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, July 27, to be scrapped, ending the ship's final journey two and a half years after it capsized at a cost of 32 lives.
The Costa Concordia disaster
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Photos: The Costa Concordia disaster Photos: The Costa Concordia disaster

The vessel will be towed -- slowly and carefully -- approximately 240 kilometers (150 miles) to Genoa, where it will be broken up. A convoy of 17 boats will travel along with it.

The ship is expected to arrive in Genoa on Sunday. It'll take about two years to dismantle the massive cruise liner.

Environmental concerns prompted the decision to undertake the expensive and difficult process of refloating the Costa Concordia rather than taking it apart on site.

Since the wreck two years ago, 24 metric tons of debris -- including furniture, dishes, food, personal effects and ship parts -- have been recovered from the seabed.

The Costa Concordia is the largest salvage ever attempted -- and the most expensive, at a cost of $1.5 billion so far.

Nine things to know about the plan to salvage the Costa Concordia

The Costa Concordia salvage by the numbers

How the Costa Concordia was raised

'We'll die without that boat:' What the Costa Concordia leaves behind in Giglio

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