(Seattle, Nov. 28, 2001) – Crowley Marine Services has successfully concluded work as prime contractor for the U.S. Navy’s Ehime Maru recovery and relocation operation this week with placement of the ship at its final resting site approximately 12 miles off the island of Oahu in Hawaii in more than 6,000 feet of water. The Navy contracted with Crowley to design, engineer and execute the plan to lift the Ehime Maru from the shallow water recovery site, transport it to deepwater and lower it to the ocean floor.
The Ehime Maru sank in 2,000 feet of water on Feb. 9, when it was struck by the USS Greeneville, a Navy submarine practicing an emergency-surfacing maneuver off Diamond Head. The Dutch recovery company Smit-Tak raised the Ehime Maru from its original resting-place and transported it to the shallow water dive site about a mile south of Honolulu International Airport last month. Crowley provided transportation of critical components needed during Phase I of the salvage operation for Smit-Tak, and took over as the prime contractor for Phase II at the shallow water recovery site.
There, in about 115 feet of water, Navy divers searched the vessel for remains of nine people who perished in the accident. Eight bodies were recovered.
During this period, Crowley supported the Navy’s Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU) with the recovery and environmental clean-up operations of the Ehime Maru. Divers used Crowley’s logistics support barge CMC 450-10 for accommodations as well as a dive platform.
Saturday, Crowley lifted the vessel from the shallow water recovery site and suspended it under the CMC 450-10 for the 12-nautical-mile journey to its final resting-place. The next day, representatives of three of the crewmembers families took part in a ceremony aboard the deck of the Japanese submarine rescue ship JDS Chihaya and watched nearby as Crowley lowered the Ehime Maru 6,000 feet to the ocean floor.
“The Crowley crew stood by in respect as the ceremony aboard the JDS Chihaya took place and as we lowered the Ehime Maru to her final resting place,” said Crowley project manager Todd Busch.
The ceremony brought to a close the unprecedented 10-month multi-million-dollar search and recovery effort which required expert maritime recovery techniques on the part of the Navy, Crowley and Smit-Tak. The operation marks the first time that a vessel of the Ehime Maru‘s size has ever been recovered from water so deep. The Navy has recovered aircraft and other items from depths far deeper than 2,000 feet, but this was the first time an object with the mass of Ehime Maru was recovered intact from such a depth.
“This successful mission is the culmination of many months of strategic planning and careful implementation,” Busch said. “Our success required the hard work and expertise of a lot of people.
Busch and Mike Rampolla, operations manager, have overseen the Crowley team working on the project since planning began nearly 10 months ago. Approximately 36 Crowley personnel were involved in execution of the project, along with more than 15 subcontractors and vendors under contract with Crowley.
Crowley’s background in salvage and wreck removal projects has been extensive over the years. Some of the recent emergency service projects the company has handled include the extraction of the ship New Carissa from the beach in Coos Bay, Ore.; the salvage of the Hyundai No. 12 and Kiroshima, both of which ran aground in Alaskan waters; and the extraction of the ex-USS Tortuga from a marine sanctuary near San Miguel Island in the Santa Barbara Channel.
Crowley Marine Services, headquartered in Seattle, is a subsidiary of Oakland-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, founded in 1892. The corporation, primarily family- and employee-owned, is mainly engaged in worldwide logistics, liner services, contract towing and transportation, energy support services, ship assist and escort services, vessel management and petroleum and chemical marine transport. Additional information about Crowley its subsidiaries and business units may be found on the Internet at www.crowley.com.
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