Page 16: of Marine Technology Magazine (May 2014)

AUV Operations

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Marine Salvage Project Report In the summer of 1991, a 121 ft. long Taiwanese long line Þ shing vessel, the Hui Feng #1, ran aground on an atoll in the middle of the Pa- ciÞ c. With a footprint of just 4.6 sq. mi., Palmyra Atoll forms the most northern vegetated island in the Northern Line Is- lands, lying some 1,000 miles south of Honolulu. The atoll has a long storied past and is now a national monument and wildlife refuge, cooperatively man- aged by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Nature Conservancy. Palmyra Atoll encompasses some of the last remaining near-pristine reef en- vironments, boasting an intact marine predator-dominated marine ecosystem where speciesÕ richness and diversity abound, with more than 176 species of hard coral and 418 species of reef Þ sh. Through monitoring of the reefs, a slow and insidious destruction was identiÞ ed by the Hui Feng #1 and the other wrecks deteriorating on Palmyra and Kingman Reef, a non-vegetated wildlife refuge reef located 35 miles to the northwest of Palmyra. At Palmyra the problem lay in a na- tive marine organism called coralli- morph that was effectively smothering the corals surrounding the wreck. Re-searchers have made observations over several years that showed the spread of the organism progressively increasing due to the leaching of iron into the envi- ronment as the wreck corroded serving as a fertilizer of sorts. At Kingman the problem was not corallimorph, but an invasive form of algae feeding off nutri- ents released from the dissolving wreck-age of a burned Þ shing vessel. In September of 2012, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife ServiceÕs issued an RFP for the removal of the two wrecks from Pal- myra Atoll and Kingman Reef. Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. reached out to Curtin Maritime to collaborate. Several factors were fundamental in the plan- ning process: the safety of personnel and equipment, followed closely by mitigating the potential of further dam-age to the extremely delicate living coral and reef structure. Working together a plan was devel- oped to remove the wreckage from the inner-tidal areas. Flat deck scows were designed and built with shallow draft to transit the debris across the coral reef areas to the main barge that provided logistical support and housing for the project. In total, the combined crew of 12 worked 79 days with 880 hours spent underwater to cut, rig and remove over 970,000 pounds of steel and debris, as well as 605 gallons of hydrocarbons. Susan White, the USFWSÕs project leader for the removal effort, said the debris was Òthe equivalent of 67 large elephants or 31 city buses and was re- moved to protect some of the worldÕs most pristine coral reefs.Ó Photo: Global Diving & Salvage Saving Coral Reefs Saving Coral Reefs One shipwreck at a time May 201416 MTRMTR #4 (1-17).indd 16MTR #4 (1-17).indd 165/13/2014 10:07:36 AM5/13/2014 10:07:36 AM

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