USS Grapple assists in recovery of Swissair Flight 111 wreckage

U.S. Navy assists with
recovery of Swissair Flight 111

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USS Grapple
The rescue and salvage ship USS Grapple (ARS 53) is now in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, and will assist in the search and recovery efforts of victims and wreckage from Swissair Flight 111 crash. Hi-Rez. (U.S. Navy file photo)
Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Sept. 10 The U.S. Navy rescue and salvage ship USS Grapple (ARS 53) arrived on scene Wednesday morning to assist Canadian authorities in efforts to search and recover victims and wreckage from the Sept. 2 crash of Swissair Flight 111.

Grapple, in port in Philadelphia when the request for assistance was received, got underway Monday with divers from the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two. Thirty-two divers, using Grapple as a diving platform, will employ the most current high technology sonar and diving equipment to assist in recovery efforts.

The Little Creek, Va.,-based Grapple is the newest of the Navy's rescue and salvage ships and provides the onsite recovery team additional experienced divers and a lift capability of up to 300 tons. The ship and the divers provided the same kind of assistance to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board for the recovery of victims and wreckage from the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996.

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New equipment, such as this synthetic aperture sonar developed by the Navy's Coastal Systems Station, will be used to search for wreckage at the site of the Swissair Flight 111 crash in Nova Scotia. Hi-Rez. (U.S. Navy file photo)

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Lieut. Cmdr. David E. Davis, commanding officer of Grapple said "This ship brings very experienced divers and highly trained crew to assist our Canadian neighbors and help provide closure to the families whose loved ones died in the crash of Swissair Flight 111."

The Navy is also providing newly-developed hardware to assist in the underwater search phase of the Swissair crash. This equipment, part of a larger suite of underwater sensors developed to hunt mines, includes the Synthetic Aperture Sonar and the Laser Electro-Optics Identification System, both of which are used to provide detailed images of the ocean floor.

The Swissair MD-11 jetliner crashed into the sea off Nova Scotia about 16 minutes after the pilots reported smoke in the cockpit. They were attempting an emergency landing at Halifax when the plane went down, killing all 229 people aboard.

-USN-

Reviewed: 16 September 2009