Don't Forget Salvage

Sep 29, 2009, 2:35PM EST
Don't Forget Salvage
The marine salvage business is potentially a big opportunity for subsea technology companies.

Earlier this month I attended a conference where marine salvage and subsea industry leaders gathered to discuss the environmental, legal, financial and moral ramifications of the discovery and recovery of marine casualties, new and old, around the globe. Dubbed “Wrecks of the World: Hidden Risks of the Deep,” the conference -- which was sponsored by a long list of marine industry organizations including the American Salvage Association, the Marine Technology Society, NAMEPA, the Maritime Law Association of the United States and the International Salvage Association, among others – focused on a number of critical issues surrounding the discovery and mitigation of potential brewing ecological disasters.

According to research by Dagmar Schmidt Etkin, PH.D., of Environmental Research Consulting (Cortlandt Manor, NY), there are approximately 8,500 identified large shipwrecks found in the world’s oceans, representing between two and 15 million tons of oil and other hazardous materials. Of this 8,500, nearly 75% of the total, or 6,338, are World War II era wrecks, a total encompassing 1,065 tankers, 3,887 cargo ships and 1,416 military ships. The heaviest concentration of these wrecks are scattered in the South Pacific (2700) and North Atlantic (2200).
While the data and statistics regarding the problem and the potential solutions are diverse and staggering, one of the clearest points brought to light during the 8-hour conference was the desparate need for new and improved technologies to help salvage companies more efficiently, effectively and safely identify, mitigate and act on these wrecks.
In my experience technology companies serving this subsea technology niche are focused primarily on the defense, scientific and offshore oil and gas business, and for good reason: that's where most of the dollars eminate.
However, I think there is a tremendous opportunity for companies in this market to benefit put their expertise to work in a manner that not only will bolster their bottom line, it will also do a world of envrionmental good.

(About the Photo & Credit:

In this composite side-scan sonar image released by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the wreckage of a World War II patrol boat is seen in approximately 300 ft. of water off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. YP-389, a converted trawler used by the Navy for Atlantic coastline protection during World War II, sank June 19, 1942 off North Carolina during a battle with German submarine U-701. (U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)

Filed under: salvage, subsea, technology, wrecks, WWII
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