Today's vocab lesson: "parbuckling." That's the ambitious process that is under way in Italy, where a salvage team has started to lift the Costa Concordia almost exactly 20 months after it crashed into a reef, killing 32. It's being touted as one of the most difficult and expensive maritime salvage efforts to be attempted, and the BBC reports that the initial hours of the operation have returned progress. Officials say that after about three hours and the application of 6,000 tons of force, undersea cameras show the ship has been raised off the rocks it was resting on and moved onto a platform. The Guardian describes parbuckling as a "common means of salvaging wrecked vessels": A system of pulleys, counterweights, and huge chains (see more photos here) are being used to gently right the ship; a 500-member team and more than 30,000 tons of steel have been employed in the salvage effort.
Engineers yesterday got the go-ahead to begin the effort, which started three hours late, at 9am local time, due to an early morning storm. The salvage effort is expected to take eight to 12 hours. The AP reports that the USS Oklahoma was parbuckled in 1943 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (the Guardian calls that effort the biggest such effort to date). That ship was about 584 feet long; the Costa Concordia is a hair over 950 feet in length. A second hope for the effort beyond the successful raising of the ship: That two of the still-missing bodies will be located; the Guardian notes they could be stuck beneath the ship, but the AP reports that the cameras being used today have yet to spot them. (Read more Costa Concordia stories.)