Hey all,

I am working for a salvage company in Malaysia, and were currently on a project to remove a wreck in deep in the Borneo jungles. Doesn't pay much but I am determined to do the job well, Attached are some photos of the wreck.

As you can see, there is absolute zero viz down there. and currents can be really strong.
I have tried inspecting the wrecks using standard scuba gear but I cannot go deeper than 3 meters.  Probably with a KMB, more weights, and a shotline I could get to the bottom.

To make matters worse, these ships have been there for so long that the officials have lost all records of the vessel. So we do not know how the ship looks like underwater, and we cannot see it for ourselves either. Also, I do not know the depth, but I will soon.

I am inspecting the wreck again soon and I will be prepared this time.

The reason I wrote this is to find out if anyone else have done salvaging like this, or have any ideas to remove this wreck with a budget of only 30,000 USD.

My best bet is to secure the bow (above water) with either a pontoon or seal it completely.
I plan to use sonar imaging to find out what its like down there, but would it work in zero viz with strong currents?
Once the front is secured, we either plan to refloat the stern or pull it out using a tug boat. It all depends on the state of the vessel underwater.
My team and I also plan to use an airlift to remove whatever silt around the bottom that is causing it to be stuck.

It is relatively close to the riverbank, but previous efforts by other companies to pull it out using a crane barely moved it.

So this is a near impossible task for a small budget company like mine, but again I just gotta do this somehow.

So is there anyone out there with a brilliant idea to get rid of this wreck?

These are my best estimates : Length: 34m, Weight: <150 tons, Depth: 10m

any advice appreciated.

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Thanks Ed,

Yes I know foam would be impractical for this job. But being in the salvage industry with a quite a few wrecks to clean up (that is, if we get these two out first), you never know what could turn out to be practical. I want to learn from others' experience and make sure I weigh out all my options to increase to probability of success.

I still consider myself a rookie diver, and every single bit of information is useful to me. I have taken two pages worth of notes from this discussion thread, and I want to keep learning.

A survey dive is the first thing on the to do list, right after a full job safety analysis.
A sonar imaging system is on its way to us, and this is an investment to minimise diving.
Ordered mine from starfishsonar.com, the quality of the images is simply stunning. I believe it will prove to be a great assistant.

Barge rentals take the lions share of the cost for us,but we have had a little boost in funding plus a discount from the marine department because were using their barges.

Despite that, the contract still says "No Cure, No Pay". So costs are to be kept at a minimum. Therefore my enquiry regarding the use of polyurethane foam was merely out of curiosity rather than an interest to use it.

As for lifting bags, I just made a call to Advanced Marine from Singapore today, and they are willing to rent lifting bags for just 40 bucks a day.. hoorah!

Keep the posts coming though...
The "sonar imaging system" is a good idea and certainly any information you can collect prior to the all out push is useful. However, keep in mind that you're in shallow water so the cone on your sonar beam won't be too large. The effects of NTU's will degrade your picture a bit as well. NTU's (nephlometic turbidity units) is all the "stuff" that clouds your water, silt being the largest part of it. You probably know all this, but just in case you don't, and the picture isn't too great.
I have just finished reading, for the third time, a book about the rescue and salvage of the "Squalus". The book is by Peter Mass and it's a great read, if you are into that. Anyway it talks a great deal about the success and failures of what they did on the recovery.
As to lift bags, I've used them lots and they are a wonderful tool, but not without some challenge and the current is going to be a big one. Pontoons on either side of the wreck may be an alternative to consider. I would also break this project down a little as far as JSA's; the survey being a project phase on it's own and would require it's own JSA, at least in my opinion. Keep at it, be safe and good luck. Cheers, Kirk
Note to self : Get Peter Maas' book.

Thanks Kirk, I love reading about anything I could get my hands on and this looks like an awesome book.

I knew image quality won't be pretty and I wouldn't have a wide scope of vision, but I never knew that they had a name for NTUs. (or did I miss it in my PADI cla****?)

Anyway, I'm using lift bags for wreck 2, were still gonna be using barge lift for wreck 1. But because wreck 2 is stranded at an angle, I am afraid the lift will cause the pontoon straps to tear. The user guide mentioned that it has to be completely horizontal. I wouldn't want to risk it because they cost a bomb. So that's why I have switched to parachute type bags. The only disadvantage I have is the height of these bags fully inflated relative to the depth of the water. I'll have to sit there and wait for the tide to rise, and my tidal calendar is inapplicable in this part of the river.

So if all goes well, by this time next week I'll be posting updates from the jungle, right next to the wreck. In the mean time I'll have to find out how to build a small floating pontoon barge.

Tried to watch Deep Sea Salvage online but it's only available in the U.S.

Why oh why?? Damn you Americans! I envy you guys for having a lot of convenience at your fingertips.

Oh don't get me started...
Jon speaking of getting started I believe its your turn to buy the next round of drinks as us yanks are getting kinda thirsty going over all of these salvage efforts what ya think ?I know its hot where you are but were getting low and almost out of cold beer.
haha funny you mentioned that.. I am actually having one right now!
If I was there or any of you guys are here, I would definitely buy a round or two.
I really do feel I owe you yanks some drinks.

When I'm back from the jungle, you guys can come down for a holiday and I'll be glad to show you guys around.


That is where I live.

Ace I know you're all too familiar with a tropical climate, but here is where I go scuba diving.


Jacques Cousteau called it an untouched piece of art.

Invitation is open!
Hawaii is good but old Capt. J.Y. Cousteau was right your in the real tropical paradise. So Jon quit b****in about the American shopping mall with everything in it you have it all right there. I look forward to visiting you thats my kind of diving on both sport and commercial level. Your one lucky diving dude. Oh yea were still low on cold beer do you think you could maybe talk to the higher ups into doing something about that for us ? Thanks Jon.
I'm on it Ace, trust me.

will let you know by monday.
Jon well its Friday the 13th and that was the lucky day for our dive crew and I as we had just finished refloating our biggest salvaged vessel to date down in Mexico.
So is this a lucky day for you and your crew as well ?
I've been following this thread (lurker status) and appreciate the discussion.

Looking forward to hearing more about your projects, Jon.
Jon its your turn again to buy drinks for the crew that has so givingly taught your company how to salvage those wrecks. Yep its time to pay up for all of that free advise that was freely given you guys arent going to get off the hook that easy. So order another round for our salvage advisors and give us a update on salvage activities. Besides we need more adventure.
Hello Divers,

Did you miss me? I received all your emails about wanting to know how I am doing.. but firstly I'd like to apologise for the late reply. Please expect long delays between updates as I said, I am in the jungle.

Not too much has been going on, it's all meetings, presentations and lots of paperwork. We signed our contract a week ago, so this project is officially "GO".

Last week has been all about fabricating and ordering equipment, a delay in delivery of our sonar imaging system is holding us back from surveying the wreck site, we should get it by this week.

Our prop wash mailbox is under construction as I write and that should be done pretty soon.

We've got everything we need except the barges, which cost a bomb to rent. So we're busy shopping around for barges.

Once the sonar imaging is here, I will post up the pictures as soon as I can. I'll be heading down to Singapore this Thursday to check out some equipment we might need or rent, like the lifting bags, broco rods and other CDiving must haves like a new green river and leatherman.. I have a weakness for outdoor gear.

Anyway, thats that for now.. I promise the next update will be better, things are still hectic for me, running here and there, flying back and forth across the country, and balancing that with other responsibilities.

I hope you guys stay patient, and reply me with whatever info you think I might still need. Its great to know you guys are still interested in this project and giving me advice for free.



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