HECSALV Part 2: Illusion of Salvage

Pay no attention to that man behind the laptop.

You know, it’s funny…how all ships are the same size when you model them on your computer. A 100 foot barge and a 1,000 foot tanker look relatively the same on this computer screen. But man are they different in real life. Important to get on a ship once and a while… or more like, “as often as you can,” in this line of work. Better still to crawl around inside them.

Desk-jockey, armchair sailor – it’s a necessary part of the job. You need an office to do most engineering and design work. It only becomes a bad thing when it becomes too comfortable. This is especially true for salvage response.

But there is a good thing too. When you remove the multitude of distractions – the sea, the people, the wind, cold, equipment, tools, all the action and immediate demands – the salvage engineer behind the curtain is left with just the ship and the principles. That’s what’s great about that computer screen; it smoothes out the details.

During a salvage engineering effort using HECSALV, during the very real thing, what you couldn’t “see” before are the forces working on the ship. Most times these forces are not doing anything differently than they were when the ship was fine. It’s the ship that’s changed. Something with it failed. It’s almost as if it’s a different ship now. That may be the way to “look” at it.

So what can this newly-broken ship do? Or, maybe more important, what will it not be able to do? This is the magic question.

Answer: HECSALV will not only show you what you can’t see, it can show you what you will likely see.

“How’s that, Marley’s ghost?

That’s right. I’m talking about a glimpse of “what could be”. In slightly more technical terms, HECSALV allows you to perform “what-if scenarios”. Such as, “will the ship come off with the tide?…or should we ballast her down…how much oil will spill…will it be unstable…or break if we offload it the way we want?… etc., etc. With an accurate model of the ship, her loading, tide, water depth, weather and various other local environment information, we can use HECSALV to non-destructively test the actual ship by testing her virtual twin…and do this under as many salvage response “conditions” or salvage plans as we need to, or, in the amount of time available. Choose the best one and run with it.

Now if that’s not straddling the space/time continuum with both hands placed firmly on the throttle, I don’t know what is. Magic?…only to the untrained eye.

Stick around for Part 3 and we’ll show you how it’s done.

By Professional Mariner Staff