Titan Marine Salvage Operations

Video highlights from Salvage Code Red

Explore some of the biggest marine salvage jobs undertaken by Titan, a leading marine salvage company.

Salvage teams such as Titan, as featured in Salvage Code Red can respond to a code red alert and get their teams to a stricken vessel anywhere in the world within twenty-four hours. We take a look at some of their recent salvage operations

People involved in marine salvage operations are often expected to work in extremely dangerous environments, where one wrong move could lead to tragedy. But with so many major shipping disasters reported every year, marine salvage teams are constantly in demand. Major salvage companies like Florida-based Titan have to be able to respond to a code red salvage alert and get their teams to a stricken vessel anywhere in the world within twenty-four hours.

Titan, along with Rotterdam-based Smit, which also features in Salvage Code Red, is today one of the biggest marine salvage companies in the world, but started out back in the 1980s as a one-tug towing firm. It was only after working on a successful salvage operation in the Caribbean in 1982 that the company quickly expanded to take on additional barges, tugs and cranes and focus on marine salvage operations. Today, Titan is the US Coast Guard’s main salvage contractor in Mississippi and much of the Gulf of Mexico and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, successfully re-floated no less than 65 vessels.

We take a look at some of their recent marine salvage work.

SCF Tomsk

In October 2007 the Liberian-registered, 551-foot-long and 23,500-gross-tonne gas carrier SCF Tomsk ran aground off the coast of the Dominican Republic as Tropical Storm Noel wreaked havoc on the Caribbean. The ship was carrying approximately 330,000 gallons of fuel oil and 33,000 gallons of diesel as well as 1.5 million gallons of liquefied petroleum gas, which, mercifully for the environment, did not leak into the sea but was contained within the vessel.

Hired under the Lloyd’s Open Form – an international framework used to clarify salvage contracts and remuneration between salvage companies, vessel owners and their insurance companies - Titan put into action a full team of experts and their equipment to rescue the floundering ship. After inspection, the Titan team found that the Tomsk still had considerable liquefied gas on board, stored in ballast tanks that had been damaged, though not enough to cause a leak into the surrounding sea. After moving the liquefied gas into secure tanks, the team was able to re-balance the vessel so that it would float free from the reef on which it was stuck.

The Cougar Ace

In July 2006, the Japanese car carrier the Cougar Ace, packed with 4,700 Mazda cars and Isuzu trucks bound for the North-American market was traveling from Japan to Vancouver, Canada, when it stranded in the Pacific Ocean.

The ship’s condition quickly began to deteriorate as it took on water, listing to a dramatic 80-degree angle in the middle of the ocean. There began one of Titan’s largest salvage operations of recent years as the expert team pulled out all the stops – working solidly for 24 days straight to try and save the vessel and its extremely lucrative cargo. The first part of the operation involved towing the vessel into the Wide Bay area of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where weather conditions facilitated the salvage operation. The salvage team then got to work pumping out the water on board the ship so that the Cougar Ace could be successfully refloated. The entire Cougar Ace salvage operation was highlighted as a major feature by Wired magazine.

The APL Panama

The 835-foot container ship APL Panama ran aground on the beach of Ensenada, Mexico, on Christmas Day 2005. The vessel was packed with 2,000 cargo containers and the subsequent rescue operation to refloat the vessel was one of the largest ever. No less than twenty lorry loads of salvage equipment, as well as five 300-tonne hydraulic pullers, seven tugboats, three cranes, a specially-equipped helicopter, a dredge and a flat-deck barge, as well as several salvage crews, were all utilized in the operation. After removing all the oil and more than 1,200 cargo containers that were left on board the APL Panama, the Titan team had to remove large amounts of sand that had buried part of the ship on the beach, before being able to successfully refloat the cargo ship. The APL Panama was redelivered to its owners in March 2006.

Palo Alto

Known as the ‘Cement Ship,’ the SS Palo Alto has been a California landmark since it was intentionally grounded at the end of Seacliff Pier in Aptos, California, in 1930. But after reports from local authorities and environmentalists that the ship was polluting the sea and endangering wildlife, the Titan team was called in to rescue the ship. After inspecting the wreckage and finding the leak, the Titan team set about removing the oil – as well as more than 100 oil-covered dead seabirds and other marine life.

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