A semisubmersible ship carrying the ill-fated Sewol ferry arrived at South Korea's southwestern port of Mokpo on Friday.
The ship -- escorted by five Coast Guard vessels -- sailed into port around 1 p.m. after a six-hour journey from the waters where it stayed for nearly a week after being raised from the sea bottom.
The government said the ferry will likely be put into a dry dock by Thursday next week before a search for the remains of the nine missing people begins in earnest.
After some preparations, including disinfecting the rusted hull, the inspection is expected to begin on April 10.
The move came days after salvage operators raised the 6,800-ton Sewol ferry from the sea and placed it on the semisubmersible ship.
The ferry sank off the country's southwestern coast near Jindo Island in April 2014. The sinking -- the country's worst maritime disaster -- left 304 people dead, mostly high school students on a school excursion, with those nine still unaccounted for.
A special team of more than 100 government officials, including those from the state forensic agency, has been formed to carry out a search for the nine missing people.
The team, meanwhile, said it has informed the government that it is against cutting into the ship to look for the missing.
Family members of the missing also said they have asked the government to stay close to the ship to witness the operation.
Authorities also plan to inspect the wreck to try to find the exact cause of the deadly sinking. (Yonhap)