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— re HOHEL 2872 HUDE, G| Anatomy 0 LLER oran Underwater Search’ Search for the Wreckage of South African Airways’ ~ ‘Flight 295 was an International Effort in 4500-Meter Waters—Before Considered Unreachable tee Saher ae ‘A sidescan sonar r2co ett from the Klein “Smarttish” revealed atypical aircraft debris pattern at the 4450-meter water depths. Atright, a ‘Sea Beam-genoratod bathymatric plo! provided by the German FV Sonne showed the featureless area othe wreckage site (noted by the aircraft symbol) which was flanked east and west By 700-and 1500-meter seamounts By Michael K. Kutzleb President Steadfast Oceancering Inc G cut Arcana tigh 295, enroute from Taiwan to Mauri- tis. disappeared into the Indian Ocean ‘on November 28, 1987, shortly before its scheduled arrival. The Bocing 747 Combi aircraft, which was carrying passengers as well as cargo, had — reported smoke in the aircraft and had just completed an emergency 7 deseent to 14,000 teet when commun tions were lost Floating debris was located the fol: lowing day approximately 135 miles northeast of Mauritius Based upon the U.S. Navy's sue cess in locating the pingers from the Air India 747 crash im 1985, the South African government requested assistance from the US. Navy’ssuper- visor of salvage (SupSalv), Anagree- ment was signed on December after favorable determination under See tion 607 (ayot the Act of 1961 and further imation that use of U.S. for hum Violate the terms of the comprehen: sive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, eign Assistance aldeterm: «arian purposes would Tot, he SupSalv office administers sev- ceral civilian contracts for the provi- sion of specialized search and salvage services for various projects. For this, task, the services of Steadfast Occa- neering Inc.. the Navy's prime con- tractor for underwater search and recovery operations, were required. Steadlast, with offices in Falls Church, Virginia, and Fort Lauder- dale, Florida, isa leader inthe field of underwater search and recovery and Specializes in deep water operations. Steadfast was prime contractor for the search tor Korean Air Lines’ Plight 007, the Air India 747, and the space shuttle Challenger. The first order of business was to identity what assets were required and where to commenee the search. Hoth the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (EDR) on SAA Flight 295 were equipped with Dukane 37 kHz under- water beacons, These activated upon immersion in water fang aire designed {0 survive an air feraft rash and help pinpoint the location of the flight recorders using tunderwa ment With theoretical de anges for these beacons of up to 2 miles, large srcas can be covered fairly quickly using suitable pinger locator systems, Listening for Beacons Based on this, it was decided that phase I of the search would coneen- trate on listening for the beacons: phase I would involve the use of sidescan sonar cither to map the debris if phase I was successful or to continue the search if the pingers ‘were not located during phase | The Navy's supervisor of salvage, Captain C.A. Bartholomew, keeps two pinger locator systems in his inventory for use in locating downed military aircraft: his office provided them for use on this task in response to an official request {rom the South, Alrican government Each system consists of a towed hydrophone, a ‘and a topside processing, display console. The hy- drophone and underwater electron ies housing are pressure rated to 10,000 psi and could therefore be towed at a sufficient depth to ensure detection of the beacons in the water depths in the search area, which ranged from 2500 to 4500 meters Previous tests using these locator sys- tems had shown a maximum detec~ y 3700 al conditions, ‘Ateam ol US, Navy SupSalv and Steadfast personnel, headed by Bar- tholomew, departed for Mauritius fon December 410 meet with DCA, 4 . HYPERBARICS. 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Bill Walker of the SupSalvolfice. assisted the DCA executive commitice in the planning phase of the seareh, The writer was in overall charge of the Steadfast project team, together with Dr. Johan Steumpfer of the South African Institute for Maritime throughout both phases ofthe search effort The Sonne also had a video sled aoa capahle of obtaining phovos So the seafloor in water depths of up 10 6000 meters. The R/V Africana, a “South African fisheries research ves- sel outfitted with a hull-mounted acoustic listening system, was also ‘Steadtast's search sonar used Klein Associates’ cual-frequency “Smarttsh" atone endo! 9000-meter coaxial towcable. Mult plexed signals were processed and recorded toes ae, Technology. All available loss data was collected for analysis. Using m teorological data and positions of Aloating wreckage obtained by var- ious search aircraft over a two-day Period following the accident, debris, set and drift were calculated to derive 4 projected impact position. This position was then compared to other dat such as the projected flight path, to define a prelimina area for the phase I search, An International Effort The search was truly an interna- tional effort. Equipment came in from around the world and had to be cleared through customs, transported across the island to Port Louis, une packed, set up. and tested. Pinger Foeator systems, navigation systems, nd A“Irames were needed for each of the two vessels and had to be ferried to the ships at anchor since all berths in the port were full, Re trieval of floating debris by commer- cial and South African may Was still an ongoing etfort Two occan-going salvage tugs from Pentow Marine in South Africa, the Wolraad Wotemude snd the John Ross, were provided as platlorms for the first phase of the search, A Gi used during the phase I pinger search. An Argo na n chain, using shore sites on Mauritius, Rodriguer, and Cocos Island, was set up and operated by Geotcam, a Norwegian survey company, The system could only be used during the day because ranges to two of the sites exceeded the maximum nighttime range u: the system. This resulted in the use of GPS satellite positioning during the night after the Argo signals were lost. With the two systems, aecurate posi- tioning was possible approximately IX hours per da The Wolraad Woltmade got under way on December |, with the John Koss joining the search the following day. A test pinger was dropped near thearea in 2600 meters of water, both to test the locator systems used and to serve ay a andard to compare with the sounds aetually detected during the operation, The Africana arrived on secnetoassist on December 17. Trial runs conducted Pinger confirmed that th tor systems were indeed the test owed loca pable of the pingersin the prevailing xr depths. A consistent detection envelope of 1 mile way observed, which resulted in the selection of I mile spacing for the search tracks, This gave an overlap af 100% 10 ‘ensure that alates were covered. Phase I continued until January 2, 198K, when we felt that the batteries in the pingers wouk! have been e detectin saute mites with the three ships dur= Once phase twas completed, the team decided to demobilize all assets and plan for phase I the sidesean sont search, All of the data used in the preliminaryanalysis was reviewed and relined. ane! new bits of informa: he Sonne’ video ‘Botton {ews aTong the ojected Impact position of the gir- craft, Based on this information, an suring les Na CRETE TST nerest for the phase IT ‘The search vessels used during the pinger locator phase were not suita- ble as platforms for a deep so search due to their inability to m: pices The Omega 80,1 69-meter supply vessel with sariable pitch propellers and a large open deek, was chartered to serve as the plattorm for the sonia search Around-the-Clack Reliability During the break between phases | the Argo navigation systeny with a sys. and I, we decided to repla would provide reliable navi gation around the clock. A Geoloc system owned and operated by CGG. a French geophysical survey company was contracted to providerthe high accuracy positioning required during the phase II sonar search, Geoloe which is manufactured by Sercel, operates in the 2-mHz band using & spread spectrum technique and has 3 maximum of approximatel 1000 kilometers. Radiated signal strengths are kept below the ambient noise level to eliminate interference. and the system is immune to the tro: posphericand sky wave interferences so common to other medium- and ‘Sma ttish,” 4 dual-requeney (50 or 100 K112), Lull-acean-depth towtish The signals were multiplexed at the ovwfish and passed through i 90 meter eoasial towcable to the Klein topside processing. recording, and display equipment The winch con: sisted of a traction unity power pack and a take-up reel capable of storing up to 14,000 meters of towcable, A hydraulically operated A-frame wats used for launch and recovery of the tovlish, withan oeeanographie sheave for fairleading the towcable over the side The search team got underway on January 22 and strived in the prim the following morning, High winds und rough seas from a nearby tropical depression prevented the sonar fish from being launched for the next 36 hours, so this time was used to lock in and calibrate the Geo- loc navigation system. 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