News and Media

TITAN Salvage Works Jointly to Successfully Relocate the Sunken World War I German Submarine UB38

(Dania, Fla.; July 22, 2008) – TITAN Salvage, Crowley Maritime Corporation’s salvage and wreck removal company, reported today that its salvage team along with Scaldis Marine Contractors successfully completed the relocation of a World War I German submarine named UB38 in the Dover Strait.

The UB38 sank in 1918 after it ran into a minefield while trying to escape British destroyers. The mine exploded between the conning tower and stern sinking the submarine with all 27 hands in what is now the southwest lane of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme close to Varne Bank. In her two years of operation, the submarine sank 46 allied ships totaling 47,000 tons. Though the submarine has never been considered a danger to navigation in the strait, recently ships with much deeper draft, particularly oil tankers, were causing concern.

The minimum clearance over the wreck was 23.5 meters, which had to be increased to 26.5 meters. Two delicate issues were involved with the operation: consideration for the ordnance that remained on board including six torpedoes and deck gun ammunition and the mortal remains of the 27 crewmembers. The salvage plan ensured that the submarine remained horizontal during the lifting operations with minimum disturbance to the ordnance to address the first concern. Although the submarine is not an official war grave, close liaison between the German government, Trinity House and the salvors ensured that correct protocols were observed to respect the final resting place of the crew.

The submarine was lifted a few meters off the seabed using the self-propelled multipurpose sheerleg Norma and was placed in its new location about two miles away in 40 meters of water.

TITAN’s onsite salvage team consisted of 15 people with logistics being supported from Titan’s UK-based equipment depot. Vessels on site included joint venture partner Scaldis, sheerleg Norma and a small support tug. Salvage equipment on site included a comprehensive diving spread, air lifts, jetting equipment and a hydraulic rod pusher.

“This was a very delicate job with a lot of history that needed to be preserved,” remarked Mark Hoddinott, managing director, TITAN Europe. “Our onsite teams reacted with the professionalism the maritime community has come to know from TITAN and Scaldis, and performed the job successfully.” 

TITAN, which is a wholly owned Crowley subsidiary, is a worldwide salvage company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company also has offices in Newhaven, UK and Singapore along with an equipment depot in Batam, Indonesia. Over the past 28 years, TITAN has performed more than 300 salvage and wreck removal projects worldwide. Titan responds to vessel emergencies around the world and is accessible 24 hours a day through the company’s main dispatch telephone number, 954-929-5200. Additional information about TITAN may be found at www.titansalvage.com.

Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, founded in San Francisco in 1892, is a privately held family and employee-owned company that provides diversified transportation, logistics and emergency response services in domestic and international markets by means of six operating lines of business: Puerto Rico/Caribbean Liner Services, Latin America Liner Services, Logistics Services, Petroleum Services, Marine Services and Technical Services. Offered within these operating lines of business are the following services: liner container shipping, logistics, contract towing and transportation; ship assist and escort; energy support; salvage and emergency response; vessel management; vessel construction and naval architecture; government services, and petroleum and chemical transportation, distribution and sales. Additional information about Crowley its subsidiaries and business units may be found on the Internet at www.crowley.com.

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