The Sewol ferry is now safely secured on land, 613 days after the government launched operations to salvage the sunken vessel in August 2015.
Lee Cheol-jo, the Oceans Ministry official overseeing the salvage operation, announced during a briefing at Mokpo New Port on Tuesday that work to fix the ferry onto a dock was completed at 4 p.m.
The work was immediately followed by the cleaning and disinfection of the vessel in preparation for the search for the missing bodies.
On Thursday, workers began using high-pressure water sprayers to remove salt buildup from the body of the ferry which had been underwater for three years.
On Friday, two 26-meter-high walking towers were installed at both the bow and stern of the ferry.
A search team will use the structures to climb up the right side of the Sewol and begin to look for the remains of the nine missing passengers.
The ill-fated ship emerged from the water on March 23 and was transferred to Mokpo on a semi-submersible ship on March 31.
The ferry set sail from Incheon Port at 9 p.m., April 15th 2014, carrying a total of 476 passengers, including the students of Danwon High School heading to Jeju on a field trip. Journeying through thick fog, the ship capsized the following morning near Jindo. The nation's worst maritime disaster left 304 dead and nine are still missing.
In April 2015, the government officially announced a plan to salvage the sunken ship and selected a Chinese firm, Shanghai Salvage, to lead the efforts.
In January, after nearly two years of preparation, the cables to pull the ship up were latched onto the ferry.
In addition to search and retrieval operations, the lifting of the Sewol is also expected to help confirm the cause of its sinking.