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Dutch salvage experts in line for Concordia

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Jan. 16, 2012: The cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground near the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, last Friday. (AP)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Dutch companies in line to salvage the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship have a long history of mopping up maritime disasters, from raising the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk to securing drilling platforms wrenched loose by Hurricane Katrina.

The Rotterdam-based Smit Salvage has not yet been given the contract to salvage the $450 million cruise ship but is expected to start pumping half a million gallons of fuel off the ship over the coming days.

It is now up to the ship's owner and insurer to decide which salvage company will be awarded the multimillion-dollar contract to remove the ship from the Tuscan coast. Experts are already speculating how they will tackle the daunting task.