The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship could be loaded aboard Dockwise Vanguard – a colossal salvage vessel – after a deal was struck with a Dutch company.
The Dockwise Vanguard, capable of picking up oil rigs, has been recruited as an option to move the ship.
The vessel can sink under the Costa Concordia then rise up to lift it clear of the water before sailing it to be scrapped.
Some 32 people died after the Concordia ran aground with more than 4,000 passengers and crew in January 2012.
Salvage teams moved the ship to an upright position last month, enabling divers to find the remains of one of two people who were still unaccounted for.
Costa Crociere, Concordia’s owner, said the Vanguard had been retained as one possible option for removing the wreck from its current location off Giglio island in 2014.
It said the $30 million contract to use the salvage vessel would offer a “safe and swift” method to transport the cruise ship to its as yet undetermined final destination.
The company said the operation is the biggest salvage ever attempted on a ship of the Costa Concordia’s size.
The 902ft-long Vanguard has no bow and a flat stern, allowing it contain the longer cruise ship.
The Vanguard, described by its Dutch owner Royal Boskalis as the world’s largest semi-submersible ship, uses vast ballast tanks to lower and raise itself around its cargo.
The company said modifications would need to be made before it is capable of carrying Costa Concordia.