Seattle-based Crowley Marine Services continues to support the U.S. Navy's Office of the Superintendent of Salvage (SUPSALV) as prime contractor for Phase II of its Ehime Maru recovery project. Phase II, which began in mid-October, involves support of the Navy's Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU) for recovery operations of the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru, which sank in February after a U.S. submarine resurfaced beneath it off the coast of Honolulu.
State and federal laws do not allow for the ship to be left in shallow water or returned to its original location when the Navy's recovery operations are complete. Therefore, upon completion of the recovery effort, Crowley will perform environmental cleanup up of the Ehime Maru as needed, and will support the sealing of the vessel's compartments for relocation to its final resting place. Crowley will also lift and move the vessel from its current shallow water recovery location to its final deep-water resting-place 13 miles off the coast of Hawaii in approximately 6,000 ft. of water.
Phase I of the project, which was handled by the Dutch recovery company SMIT TAK, is now complete. It involved raising the vessel from its original resting-place at a 2,000-foot depth, and transporting it to the shallow water dive site off the coast of Honolulu. Crowley provided transportation support of equipment for SMIT TAK during Phase I, and took over for Phase IIof the project at the new shallow water site in approximately 115 ft. of water about a mile south of Honolulu International Airport.
Crowley's Todd Busch, contracts manager, and Mike Rampolla, project manager, have overseen the Crowley team working on both Phase I and Phase II of the project. So far, approximately 36 Crowley Marine Services personnel
have been involved with the project, along with more than 15 subcontractors and vendors under contract with Crowley.
Under the Navy contract, Crowley's logistics support vessel CMC 450-10, tug Sea Valor, Barge 250-6 and tug Sea Cloud have served as support vessels and to transport crucial equipment for the project from the mainland to Hawaii.
The Sea Cloud is currently transporting gear used during phase I, that is no longer in use, back from Hawaii to the mainland.
During Phase II, which began October 15, Navy divers began using Crowley's logistics support barge CMC 450-10 as a dive platform. The first of two Navy scuba teams from the MDSU entered the shallow-water recovery site in mid-October to thoroughly survey the Ehime Maru's exterior. The CMC 450-10 serves the divers as a base of operations, and is being kept at a six-point moor above the sunken vessel. Because the barge is outfitted with winches and anchors
, Crowley is capable of positioning it in fixed mooring of this kind at the offshore location.
At this time Navy divers have installed two inclinometer devices
used to assure the ship's incline, and ladders at the port side of the Ehime Maru for use by surface-supplied divers. They have also attached marker buoys to the vessel to help identify the position of the ship's bow and stern on the surface, and have cleared the site of hazards and obstructions on the ship's exterior and commenced surface supplied diving from Crowley's barge CMC 450-10.
In addition to serving as a diving platform, the vessel is also equipped to serve as a base for environmental clean up, should the need arise. A three-month environmental study showed that no significant environmental impact would result from the planned recovery of the boat from its current location to the recovery site.