Underwater survey company Phoenix International, based in the USA, has successfully completed an underwater search and recovery of a U.S. Air Force F-16 aircraft from over 16,400 feet of sea water (fsw).
Underwater search operations commenced using the Navy’s 20,000fsw depth search system, ORION.
After searching the initial planned search area spanning a 2 x 4 nautical mile (nm) area, search operations shifted to another high-probability area and the suspected F-16 debris field was quickly identified.
In early August 2012, at the direction of the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), Phoenix mobilised the Navy’s ORION deepwater side scan sonar system, the CURV 21 remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and the Navy’s motion compensated, 30,000 pound Fly-Away Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS).
All equipment was transported over land from Phoenix’s facility in Largo, Maryland, to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. From there, military transport aircraft moved the equipment to Hawaii, where the gear was loaded aboard USNS Navajo (T-ATF 169).