Costa Crociere SpA says work to remove the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship from its rocky perch off Tuscany will begin early next month and is expected to take 12 months.

Costa said in a statement Saturday the U.S.-owned company Titan Salvage won the bid to remove the ship, which struck rocks off the tourist-dependent island of Giglio on Jan. 13, when the captain made an unauthorised maneuver too close to shore.

A total of 32 passengers and crew members died; two people remain missing and are presumed dead.

The plan foresees removing the ship in one piece and towing it to an Italian port.

Workers completed the removal of fuel from the Concordia on March 24, and Costa said environmental protection will be a “top priority” during the ship's removal. - Sapa-AP