TODAY   |  September 17, 2013

Costa Concordia rolled upright after nearly 2 years

It took nearly two years to finally raise the hulking Costa Concordia cruise ship from its side to an upright position. Now, the remainder of the tragic accident can be removed from the Italian seascape. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>>> we turn to what is called the perfect end to a feet of engineering. the raising of the wrecked costa concordia newsliner off the coast of italy. michelle is there again for us this morning. good morning to you.

>> hey, savannah. what a sight that is. people here in autosee the costa concordia pulled upright. struggling for words to describe that damage that's right in there saying it looked like a giant had put it's fist into it or someone had thrown an enormous ball right into it's side.

>> reporter: it took nearly two years, but this is what it looked like to finally raise the concordia, over close to 20 hours.

>> amazing feeling when you see the ship come up. celebration broke out in the middle of the night on this tiny island that had waited so long.

>> we were expecting it to be harder to tear it off. it came off quite nicely.

>> reporter: it was slow going to start. a few delays. but once they pulled it up to the point where they could pump water into the side, that force took over speeding up the process. now resting upright, looking like a ghost ship , a reminder, too, of the terror and loss of life that night. but now, at last, it can be moved away.

>> is there still an element of i can't believe we pulled this off?

>> yeah, i think so. i mean, there always is that. i mean, you always have these fears. we didn't expect perfection but that's what we got.

>> so, next salvagers will chain big floats to this side of the ship. they don't have to weld them on. and it will take about several more months before they can tow the ship out of here. yesterday, one of the survivors described the wreck as a monument to stupidity but this salvage operation has been a testament to what engineering can do. by the way, the cost of the salvage operation so far, alone, more than $800 million. back to you guys.

>>> all right. michelle kosinski , thank you so much. how happy will they be when the coastline is once again free.

>> i agree. that is astonishing that they managed to do