Navy Sailors and Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 found and salvaged a downed T-34C Turbomentor aircraft off the coast of Texas, May 14-27.
MDSU 2′s Area Search Platoon conducted towed, side-scan sonar searches 200 feet around the suspected crash site May 15 locating the T-34C approximately two miles off the coast of Texas 50 feet below. The ASP supports salvage operations by using sonar and unmanned underwater vehicles to locate an object of interest.
From May 19-27, MDSU 2′s ASP conducted a debris field survey and mapped the wreckage site using a Seabotix remotely operated vehicle. Navy Divers from MDSU Co. 2-2 conducting scuba dives from a rigid hull inflatable boat cleared small debris and began marking and rigging larger pieces for recovery by U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne (WLM-561), completing salvage operations on May 27.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do these heavy lifts without the help of the Coast Guard,” saidHospital Corpsman 1st Class Justin Wallace, assigned to MDSU 2 Co. 2-3.
The team had to deal with limited visibility, a challenging bottom current and adverse weather conditions in addition to the difficulty in finding solid rigging points for the debris.
“We utilized good salvage survey techniques in order to determine good lift points for the large pieces of wreckage,” said Navy Diver 2nd Class Patrick Lane, assigned to MDSU 2 Co. 2-2. “The condition of the wreck made it difficult to find solid rigging points.”
All aircraft debris was then handed over to the Navy’s Aircraft Mishap Board to support their investigation.
Two aviators assigned to Training Squadron 28 at Naval Station Corpus Christi escaped from the T-34 earlier this month unharmed during a training flight.
MDSU 2 is an expeditionary mobile unit 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, two U.S. Air Force F-16Cs, and a downed MH-53E off the coast of Virginia in January.