5 Of The Greatest Salvage Operations In History

Written by on January 20, 2014 in Technology

Bob King, the author of this article, is an employee at Industrial and Marine Winch Hire, leading providers of diesel hydraulic power packs. Bob loves to blog and is a regular contributor to many lifestyle and heath blogs.

Many salvage operations have been undertaken over the years. More than we would have hoped for. Sadly ships sink and salvaging teams have to pull them out. It’s not the greatest job in the world, but someone has to do it. We have put together a list of the greatest salvage operations in history. Some of these you’ll be familiar with. And you may even have followed one or two of them on television. Let’s take a look them to see how they were caused and how they were dealt with.


Model of the Titanic.

Model of the Titanic. Photo credit: METROgrl via photopin cc.

Before your mind even goes there, let’s get Kate Winslet and the song ‘My heart will go on’ out of the way. Yes, there was a ship named Titanic and yes it was sunk due to an iceberg, but that’s it. There was no love story going on there. The wreck was found in 1985, 73 years after the ship sank. Sadly the ship cannot be salvaged. It has become too fragile due to the decadence it has undergone over the years. It is fated to lie at the bottom of the ocean, until it reduces to nothing. However, many artifacts from within the ship have been recovered. Sorry, no ‘Heart of the Ocean’ in that inventory.

German Fleet in Scapa Flow

The terror of World War I was just a taste of things to come. Many ships were sunk before the war was over and many were sunk after it. While the Allied forces pondered over the fate of the German High Seas Fleet, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter made his move. To prevent the ships from falling into the hands of the Allied forces, Admiral Reuter scuttled his own fleet. 52 ships in total were sunk and it took the next 20 years to salvage the wreck and even then they couldn’t get them all.

USS Pearl Harbor.

USS Pearl Harbor. Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery via photopin cc.

Pearl Harbor

I guess both the Americans and the Japanese moan Pearl Harbor in their own way. If it wasn’t for that attack the United States would not have joined the war and dropped atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both are sore about the incident and everyone is familiar with it. However not everyone is familiar with the salvage operation. 5 battleships, 2 destroyers, a target ship and a mine layer were sunk. Under the leadership of Captain Homer N. Wallin 5 ships were refloated and 2 others were stripped. It was one of the most arduous salvage operations in history.

Costa Concordia accident.

Costa Concordia accident. Photo credit: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection via photopin cc.

Costa Concordia

Who doesn’t remember the Costa Concordia? After all, the disaster happened only 2 years ago. The Costa Concordia was doomed the second they made Francesco Schettino its captain. He ran it aground while trying to maneuver the ship towards to the island. Captain Schettino tried to abandon the ship when he realized his mistake leaving behind the passengers. He said in his testimony that he “fell” into the lifeboat, but his crew paints a different picture. 32 people lost their lives due this accident. Nick Sloane, the man in charge of the salvage operation was finally able to get the ship upright in September 2013, probably with the help of a very powerful electric hydraulic power pack. It is yet to be towed away.

Train car.

Train car. Source.

Santiago de Compostela Derailment

Let’s take a trip back to land for the finale. A high speed train travelling from Madrid derailed on 24th July 2013 resulting in the death of 79 people. It is viewed as one of the worst rail derailments in Spain’s history. The train was said to be travelling beyond the speed limit when it approached a curve. The rest as they say is history. Needless to say salvaging the train was a big task. However, it’s still easier than pulling a ship out of the ocean.

Salvage operations are an attempt to correct mankind’s mistakes. And it’s a reminder never to repeat them again. The ocean is quite large, but it’s quickly filling up with oceanic wrecks. Not only does it cause loss of life it also threatens the environment. Let’s hope there are no more salvage operations in mankind’s future. And if there are, then we’ll just have to deal with them the way we’ve been dealing with them so far.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Find MST on Instagram Connect with MST on Google Plus

Comments are closed.