USS Grapple assists with recovery operations for Swissair Flt 111

USS Grapple continues assistance to
Canadian authorities

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The rescue and salvage ship USS Grapple (ARS 53) is now in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, assisting in the search and recovery efforts of victims and wreckage from Swissair Flight 111 crash. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Todd P. Cichonowicz [980914-N-8492C-001] Hi-Rez.
Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Sept. 14 The U.S. Navy rescue and salvage ship USS Grapple (ARS 53) is continuing to assist Canadian authorities in efforts to search and recover victims and wreckage from the Sept. 2 crash of Swissair Flight 111.

Grapple, in Nova Scotia since Sept. 8, is the platform from which 32 divers of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two are searching the debris field, using the most current high technology sonar and diving equipment to assist in recovery efforts.

The Navy is also providing newly-developed hardware to assist in the underwater search phase of the Swissair crash.

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Canadian Coast Guard Cutter CCGV Hudson (foreground) conducts Laser Line Scanning (LLS) operations with the latest U.S. Navy high-tech underwater search equipment at the crash site of Swissair Flight 111. US Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Todd P. Cichonowicz. [980914-N-8492C-005] Hi-Rez.

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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 complete suite is called the Mobile Underwater Debris Survey System, and is being operated from the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CCGV Hudson.

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.

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