Salvage Code Red: Deep Trouble

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Monday 1 June, 7.30pm

Catching fire after an explosion at sea in 1991, the Haven burned uncontrollably for three days with one million barrels of oil on board. Now heavily corroding at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, the ship is an environmental time bomb, and in jeopardy of releasing the remaining oil into the water. The salvage team must employ pioneering diving techniques to pump the boat dry of oil. Divers do a preliminary boat investigation, but a rookie diver suffers from decompression sickness, and the team is now a man down. To reach the ship bottom, divers will have to swim 70 metres below the surface. The salvage masters use a high-tech saturation diving system – which the divers live in for two weeks – to help their bodies acclimate to the heavily-pressured environment and a pressurised diving bell is used to transport the divers to the wreck. The diving bell and saturation accommodation must be air tight – any leak could be fatal for the divers inside. But before the mission can begin, a fire in the store room of the salvors’ ship sends crew members scrambling. Thankfully, the fire is extinguished and the team sets to work, sealing up the Haven’s captain cabin and installing piping to pump out the oil.

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