Resolve Marine Group accomplished one of the heaviest lifts in the Americas when the company raised the sunken derrick barge DB1 in August from the Gulf of Mexico.
The salvage was only the second time Resolve has used its patented heave compensation system that allows the company to deploy portable, modular chain puller units to make heavy lifts instead of just using large derrick barges.
DB1, owned by Turnkey Offshore Project Services of Dulac, La., sank in adverse weather on Oct. 22, 2017, about 30 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The barge settled on the platform jacket structure of a drilling rig in 60 feet of water.
The one-piece lift of the 350-by-100-foot vessel took six weeks to complete, according to Todd Schauer, director of operations for Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Resolve. About 40 salvage personnel worked day and night shifts for the entire job, he said.
After a month of preparations for all of the rigging, it took about two weeks of site operations to lift the barge. After DB1 was raised to the surface between the crane barges Conquest MB1 and RMG 302, it was winched over the submersible BOA Barge 29. BOA Barge 29 was raised under DB1, which was then taken to Brownsville, Texas.
The Resolve lift system uses chain pullers each combined with a 300-ton heave compensation unit. For the DB1 lift, Resolve put 10 of the combined units on Conquest MB1 and 10 of the units on RMG 302, according to Schauer. The 20 units provided 6,000 tons of lifting power that was used to raise the sunken barge.
Resolve used its heave-compensation chain puller system for the first time in January 2017 in the 2,500-ton lift of a toppled drilling jacket about 100 miles off the coast of Mumbai, India. The new system gives Resolve much more flexibility than it previously had for salvage work, Schauer said.
A view of BOA Barge 29’s stern offers a close-up of the salvaged cargo.
“You don’t have to tow the derrick barge around the world,” he said. “You ship the units and find barges of opportunity and you can deploy them in a portable way. That’s the commercial advantage of the whole thing. We can put the units on a containership, and within 30 to 45 days you can pretty much be anywhere in the world you want to be.”
Resolve’s new system was in the planning stages for five years, Schauer said. In addition to deployment flexibility, it provides more control than a traditional chain puller system, where there is zero give.
“If there is any swell, it just breaks the rigging and tears up the connections,” he said. “With the heave compensation, it allows you to do these massive lifts in a safe and controlled way for offshore weather.”
Schauer said Conquest MB1, measuring 446 feet by 118 feet and providing 1,400 tons of lifting power, is larger than most offshore barges.
“It’s a very open deck, so we can do things like deploy all of the (chain) puller systems,” he said. “It’s a unique salvage platform to work off.”
Conquest MB1 was part of the international team that salvaged the sunken cruise ship Costa Concordia off the coast of Giglio, Italy, in 2014.
Schauer also credited Resolve’s partners in the DB1 lift: Conquest Offshore, BOA Barges, Offshore Towing, Offshore Marine Contractors, Smith Maritime, TradeWinds Towing, and Oceaneering.