Lying on its side on a rock shelf just outside the harbor mouth, the 114,500 tonne vessel is the length of three soccer pitches and appears almost as big as the tiny Tuscan port where it was holed and sunk with the loss of 32 lives on January 13 last year.
A multinational team of 500 salvage engineers has occupied the island for most of the past year, stabilizing the hulk and preparing for the start of the lifting work, which is expected to begin at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Monday.
If all goes as planned and the weather remains fine, a so-called “parbuckling” operation will see the ship rotated by a series of cables and hydraulic machines, pulling the hulk from above and below and slowly twisting it upright.
Engineers say they are confident the 12-hour parbuckling project will work but there is no 100 percent guarantee that nothing will go wrong.
"The size of the ship and her location make this the most challenging operation I’ve ever been involved in," said Nick Sloane, a South African with three decades of experience who is leading the project for contractors Titan Salvage.
Once the ship is upright, it will be stabilized before being eventually towed away to be broken up for scrap. Alternative approaches, such as breaking the ship up on the spot, were rejected as too complicated.