Titan Pulls Through for Abandoned Research Vessel

Friday, September 12, 2003
Measuring 152 x 25-ft. (46.3 x 7.6-m), M/V Bowstring, research vessel that had been abandoned by its owners, was moored outside the M/V Arawak Trader secured to a pier adjacent to the Matthews Bridge in Jacksonville, Fla. On the evening of May 22, 2003, the Bowstring sank and came to rest on rocks, in 16 ft. of water with a port list of 15 degrees.

With the vessel’s owners seemingly nowhere to be found, the USCG, Marine Safety Office (MSO), Jacksonville, was faced with a sunken derelict of no value, leaking hydrocarbons and obstructing navigation.

With pollution being the USCG’s primary concern, On June 12, 2003, MSO Jacksonville contracted Titan Maritime, LLC to perform a dive survey of the vessel. The purpose of the survey was to assess the condition of the vessel, the quantity of hydrocarbons present and determine possible courses of action to eliminate the threat of pollution.

The survey determined there were no visible cracks, fractures or other type of hull breaching in way of shell plating exposed above the mud line. Divers found various vent pipes to be severely compromised at the main deck level and encountered a significant amount of residual diesel oil and lubricating oil trapped in way of machinery spaces overhead, most likely to have originated from the engine room bilges. This presence of loose residual oil throughout the machinery spaces and other compartments below the main deck rendered the entire vessel as a single source of pollution.

Luckily, one of Titan’s Salvage/Wreck Removal Jack-up barges, Karlissa-A was sitting on station in Tampa, Fla. Having experienced great successes with their hydraulic linear chain pullers in different type operations, Titan came up with a plan to mount two 300-ton capacity “Titan Pullers” on the deck of the “KARLISSA-A”, along with to horizontal traveling chain roller assemblies (resembling anchor windless “wild cats”) affixed to her bow.

The two independent pulling systems operate by hydraulically pulling runs of 3-in. (76-mm) high strength anchor chain. The pulling ends of the chain were attached to lifting slings that were positioned under the wreck at each end. Utilizing the hydraulic power of both the pulling devices and the barge’s jack-up system, Bowstring was lifted off the bottom and raised just above her waterline. Being a Jack-up barge, Karlissa-A elevated herself to a height capable of accommodating Bowstring’s full height when raised out of the water.

Once BOWSTRING’s decks raised to the water line, Titan’s salvage team began dewatering the wreck using submersible pumps. The team stabilized and secured the vessel and began removing all pollutants, completing the entire operation on August 26, 2003.

Performing this lift marked the first time “Titan Pullers” have been used from a single vessel to perform a vertical salvage lift.

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