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Navy Divers Recover Sunken Patrol Boat

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- U.S. Navy Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 and contracted salvage personnel successfully raised and returned to shore a sunken patrol boat (PB 502), April 18.

Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 10, a Navy Reserve unit based in Jacksonville, Fla., was conducting a routine training event sailing from Jacksonville to Charleston when one of their patrol boats transiting into Charleston Harbor ran aground on a jetty on the south side on the channel entrance at 9:41 p.m., April 13.

"Salvage operations like this are quite common, we train to respond to all types of incidents from planes going down to boats sinking and each one brings up its own unique challenges," said Chief Warrant Officer John Sullivan, MDSU2 operations officer-in-charge of the salvage operation.

The 34-foot patrol boat was surfaced Thursday morning, April 18 by Navy Divers from approximately 20 feet of water and was towed to shore by a contracted salvage company.

The 8-person Mobile Diving and Salvage (MDS) Company, MDS Co. 2-4 based in Virginia Beach, Va., arrived in Charleston Tuesday, April 16 and worked with local Coast Guard and maritime officials to determine how to safely recover the submerged vessel by using another similar patrol boat ashore as a model.

MDSU2 Divers then performed a site survey to determine the extent of damage to the vessel. On Wednesday and Thursday Divers installed lift points, placed belly bands on the submerged vessel prior to rigging for lift and recovery, and attached salvage lift bags capable of lifting 22,000 pounds. Once secured, the vessel was carefully brought to the surface Thursday morning by the lift bags and checked for stability.

"I thought my team did outstanding. This is what we train for," said Sullivan. "We developed a plan. We executed it, and I thought my team did outstanding."   PB 502 was then towed to the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Tradd Street.   Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 2 is conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident.   MDSU 2 is homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek-Ft. Story in Virginia Beach, Va. and has successfully conducted salvage operations to support TWA Flight 800, Swiss Air Flight 111, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minnesota, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, and recovery of a downed F-16 Fighting Falcon off the coast of Italy.

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