98-08-17

August 17, 1998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Navy Dives in to Help With Salvaging Effort

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR STATION, FL. – The U.S. Navy began work over the weekend to recover debris from the Titan IVA launch vehicle mishap, according to Maj Gen Robert C. Hinson, Accident Investigation Board president. A Navy search and salvage team was brought in to help collect items that may have settled to the ocean floor.

A team of 15 Navy servicemembers and contractors began the actual salvaging effort today. Approximately 30 more divers will arrive later this evening to help determine the extent of the debris field. There is no specific timeline on how long the operation will last.

"We would like to retrieve as much of the debris as is humanly possible," Hinson said. "In order to do that we need specialized equipment suited for an ocean search and salvage operation. The Navy provides us with those resources."

The search and salvaging team, led by Captain Chip McChord, U.S. Navy supervisor of salvage, will use a Shallow Water Intermediate Search System. The SWISS is a dual frequency towed side-scan sonar system mounted inside a torpedo-shaped tow body. It will be towed behind the NASA-owned Freedom Star vessel.

SWISS sonar signals process both an analog and digital display of features on the ocean bottom. Trained operators interpret these displays to identify potential debris. The low frequency is generally used for primary searching and the higher frequency can give an extremely fine grain trace of bottom features and contacts. This allows for detailed analysis of the debris contacts.

Debris collected by the Navy team will be transported back to Cape Canaveral AS where the items will be secured, catalogued and stored for the investigation.

For more information about the Navy search and salvage team, see web site: www.navsea.navy.mil/sea00c.