Rudy Teichman: A Marine Salvage Legend

By Jim Elliott
Rudy Teichman, a legend in the U.S. marine salvage industry, founded T&T in 1957, now one of the world’s largest international salvage companies. In a sense, Rudy was larger than life and one who was often referred to as a “force of nature.” He was an entrepreneur, inventor, salvor, deep sea diver, airplane pilot, licensed mariner, restaurateur, musician, philanthropist, mechanic, machinist, politician, and husband, father and grandfather. And, in spite all of his accomplishments, he was more importantly a man of character, hard work and integrity, in a time when your word was your contract. As a leader, he was loved by his crew and, even five years after his passing, there is not a day that goes by at T&T that a story is not told of Rudy’s many adventures (and misadventures). Rudy was drafted in the Army during the Korean War, ultimately serving in Germany. After returning to his home on Galveston Island and working at a ship yard for a few years, he established his own small shipyard and quickly discovered his calling and passion for marine salvage.
 
Despite difficult setbacks, including Hurricane Carla that destroyed his shipyard, Rudy always came back with more determination and a keen eye toward seizing new opportunities. For example, in the wake of Exxon Valdez, he founded his own oil spill removal company, and as the U.S. developed salvage regulations, he positioned his company to be one of the first salvage companies that could meet these stringent rules. To accomplish this, he invested tens of millions of dollars in pre-positioned salvage, marine firefighting and oil spill response equipment and recruited highly trained personnel. Never afraid to make a decision during time-critical operations, as Deepwater Horizon sank and the Macondo well continued to release oil, Rudy contracted the world’s largest aircraft to carry needed oil spill recovery equipment from Europe.
 
Rudy was known for wearing his blue work coveralls just about every day, often even at “coat and tie” meetings. Everyone knew his priority was successfully getting the project completed as soon as possible and that – in his coveralls – he was always ready to immediately get back to the real work at hand. While he often advised Admirals and Senators, he was most at home on the deck of the derrick barge “BIG T” that he built working side-by-side with his crew or in his fabrication shop designing a new piece of equipment well before daybreak. 
 
As a testament to his vision, leadership and determination, his “Teichman Group” of companies continues to expand around the world with offices in Europe – including Germany where he served in the Army – and in Asia and South America. The company’s list of marine services also continues to expand. Today, T&T conducts large-scale commercial salvage and wreck removal projects, heavy lift, towing, offshore supply, diving, hydrographic survey and manage one of the largest oil spill cooperatives in the US.  While the company he founded continues to expand worldwide, T&T remains a family-owned business that retains Rudy’s core values of honesty, integrity and hard work as its foundation. 
 
T&T Subsea: A Veteran’s Day Mission
On Veteran’s Day 2016, T&T Subsea divers worked to help save the Battleship Texas, the over 100-year-old U.S. naval vessel and historic landmark ship of Texas launched in 1912 that fought in both World Wars. T&T Subsea was selected by the State of Texas to salvage, repair and maintain the historic battleship and, on Veteran’s Day, T&T Subsea divers quickly and effectively patched the ship’s fragile hull to allow dewatering operations and then completed permanent repairs. Based on T&T Subsea’s performance, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission awarded T&T a commendation that stated the company “provided a rapid and skilled response involving specialized equipment and staff that were invaluable in preserving the historic fabric of the ship.” 
 
 
The Author
Jim Elliott is Vice President, T&T Marine Salvage, Inc.
 
 
(As published in the January 2017 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News)
Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 14,  Jan 2017

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