Phoenix International, Inc. (Phoenix) announced the successful location and recovery of an Australian Army Black Hawk utility helicopter from nearly 8,645 feet of seawater (fsw) offshore Fiji. The helicopter was attached to an Australian emergency response group stationed off Fiji, and was engaged in routine flight operations from HMAS Kanimbla when it was lost.
Phoenix is the prime contractor to the U.S. Navy's Office of the Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) with responsibilities for conducting underwater search and recovery operations anywhere in the world to water depths of 20,000 ft. On 12 December 2006, Phoenix completed mobilization of the U.S. Navy's Towed Pinger Locator (TPL) - 40 system aboard HMAS Melville. The TPL-40 is a passive listening device that can receive acoustic signals from the saltwater activated beacon on board the Black Hawk helicopter. Upon arriving in the general search area, Phoenix deployed the TPL and began the search operation. A patterned search quickly homed in on the active beacon and allowed the search team to delineate the specific area of interest. Once sure of the crash location, the Australian / U.S. team initiated plans to recover the Black Hawk. Two commercial, Antonov AN-124 heavy lift cargo aircraft were leased in February 2007 to transport the Navy's 20,000 ft. depth capable Remotely Operated Vehicle, CURV III, and Fly Away Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS) to Sydney, Australia for mobilization on M/V Seahorse Standard that served as the recovery platform.
By early March, CURV III was on scene, had examined the condition of the Black Hawk, recovered the flight recorder, and rigged critical portions of the helicopter for recovery. FADOSS was used to minimize snap loads on the lift cable and proved instrumental to the success of the operation. The flight recorder and wreckage were subsequently turned over to the Australian Defense Aircraft Accident Investigation Team to determine the cause of the loss.
Phoenix provides manned and unmanned underwater operations, design engineering, and project management services to clients in the offshore oil & gas, defense, and other ocean-interest industries worldwide. Expertise is available from six regional offices in the areas of wet and dry hyperbaric welding, conventional and atmospheric diving, robotic systems, and tooling. Our capabilities support subsea tieback; infield development; inspection, maintenance and repair; construction; deep ocean search & recovery; and submarine rescue.