STRICKEN cruise liner the Costa Concordia could be towed back to the North-East for demolition.

Able UK is one of 12 companies worldwide bidding to dismantle and recycle the vessel, which hit a reef killing 32 people.

The company confirmed it would be towed to Able Seaton Port at the mouth of the River Tees near Middlesbrough if it won the contract.

The team leading the salvage operation has revealed they will begin removing the stricken cruise liner from near the Italian island of Giglio in June.

The job of demolishing the vessel has been put out to tender by UK company London Offshore Consultants.

It is hoped the salvage team will have made a final decision on a port for the ship to be towed to by early March.

Neil Etherington, Able UK group development director, confirmed the company had submitted a bid to recycle the ship at the Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling facility (TERRC) at Able Seaton Port.

He added: “TERRC was of course the yard selected by both the French and US Governments to recycle the former French aircraft carrier, Le Clemenceau and vessels from the US MARAD fleet respectively.

“The facility, including one of the world's largest dry docks, has full planning permissions and environmental accreditations to undertake this type of activity. The previous contracts were completed in October 2010 and employed over 250 personnel."

The dismantling will be the final phase of an unprecedented 600m euro (£500m) salvage effort.

Officials in Rome gave the timetable and the rundown of what was needed for the cruise liner to be refloated just days before the second anniversary of the January 13, 2012, grounding.

A handful of Italian ports - including Piombino, Genoa, Palermo and Civitavecchia - are bidding to take in the wreck, but there are also international bidders in France, Turkey and China, as well as Britain.

Italy’s environment minister and the head of Costa Crociere say the preference was to keep the project in Italy.

A technique known as parbuckling was used to right the ship The 114,000-ton ship was hauled upright from its partially submerged position in September last year in a complicated 19-hour salvage operation.

More than 1,000 concrete stacks and six underwater platforms are being used to keep the vessel stable.

Franco Porcellacchia, in charge of removing the wreck, said: "We will start fitting in the systems and equipment that are needed to enable us to remove the ship from mid-April. It is a very complicated operation.

"If there are no unexpected events the whole operation will be completed by the end of June, probably by the middle of June.”