Archive for the marine salvage Category

Air Lift Bags for Marine Salvage

Posted in marine salvage, Underwater air lift bags on November 8, 2012 by Seaflex
Open bottom air lift bag

Open bottom air lift bag commonly used for marine salvage

Marine salvage involves recovering a ship and/or its cargo from the seabed following a shipwreck or other maritime accident. Obviously, ships and cargo are heavy objects which cannot be recovered without specialist equipment and knowledge.

Underwater air lifting bags are specifically designed for the recovery of underwater objects that need lifting to the surface. They can also be used as static buoyancy in underwater engineering as they only need a single attachment point and are stable and easy to handle underwater.

Air Lift Bags

Air lifting bags are available in various designs and capacities, so that salvage operators can choose the appropriate level of buoyancy required to lift objects in a controlled fashion. For recovering heavy objects, such as a ship, multiple bags will be necessary to provide a balanced and controlled lift. This is important as objects that are lifted too quickly can reach the surface out of control, posing a risk to the operators and the vessel being salvaged.

Closed or Open?

There are two basic types of lifting bag:

  • Closed air lifting bags typically include a safety valve that allows air to be released for a steady, controlled ascent.
  • Open bottomed air lift bags work differently as their open bottom allows expanding air to vent freely during an ascent to the surface as pressure decreases.

For this reason, and the ease of handling, open bottomed air lift bags are usually the preferred choice for marine salvage. Their strength, ease of use underwater and predictable behaviour make them the most effective and safest option for most marine lifting operations.

Jean Ricciardi

Salvage of the Jean Ricciardi

When the trawler Jean Riccardi suffered a power failure, flooded and sank near the port of Sete, on the French Mediterranean coast, twelve open bottom air lift bags, capable of lifting 20 tonnes each, were used to complete the salvage operation quickly and safely.

Dunkirk ‘little ship’ Recovery

Posted in inflatable buoyancy units, marine salvage, Underwater air lift bags on November 1, 2012 by Seaflex

Skylark XI was one of the fleet of ‘little ships’ that rescued Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 in Operation Dynamo. But for the last two years – since the 70th anniversary of Operation Dynamo – she has been lying on the bed of the River Leven at Balloch in West Dunbartonshire.

With the help of the Royal Navy Clearance Divers the Skylark IX was successfully re-floated on the 18th of October.

Little Ship salvage using Seaflex underwater airlift bags

Skylark salvage – image from

Using inflatable buoyancy bags the Royal Navy divers from the Faslane base on the Clyde undertook a painstaking 12-hour operation to refloat her. They had to abandon their efforts after the first day but eventually the last of the water was pumped out and the successful operation was completed.

The Skylark was one of the smallest of the “little ships” which responded to the call from Winston Churchill in 1940 to rescue the Allied forces trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Although her capacity was 90 passengers, on each of the four return trips into Dunkirk she brought out 150 exhausted and wounded soldiers .

Seaflex donated six, 2 tonne Inflatable Buoyancy Units with airlines and manifolds to use in the operation.

STV News article and News video footage on the first day’s attempt.
The Scottish Herald article and images.

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Salvage of the Jean Ricciardi

Posted in Air lift bags, marine salvage, Underwater air lift bags on October 4, 2011 by Seaflex

Jean Ricciardi Salvage using air lift bags

Client: Insurance company
Contractor: Prodive Monaco
Location: Sete, France
Water depth:  18m

The Jean Ricciardi had suffered a total power loss in the middle of the night and this left her without lights and adrift, she continued to drift until she ran aground under the cliffs near the harbour entrance of Sete.  A merchant vessel who caught sight of the Jean Ricciardi contacted authorities and took 2 crew members aboard who had been in the Jean Ricciardi’s liferaft at the time of the grounding. A lifeboat was dispatched and freed the fishing vessel from the rocks and the Jean Ricciardi was taken under tow bound for Sete.  The vessel’s hull had been severely damaged during the grounding allowing significant water ingress to the vessel and she started to heel.   Without power to operate the pumps the fishing vessel flooded and then sank by the stern just 800 meters from the harbour entrance.


Due to the water depth and the close proximity to the harbour entrance the Local harbour authorities insisted that the wreck be remove as soon as possible. The vessel’s insurance company agreed and engaged a salvage company to remove the wreck however they failed in their attempts. PRODIVE were then approached to carry out the removal and contacted SEAFLEX to supply the necessary air lift bags.

Jean Ricciardi Salvage using air lift bags

PRODIVE required 240t of lift bags, 12 x 20t ALB (Air Lift Bags) for despatch as soon as possible. The bags were packed and despatched from stock the same day from SEAFLEX head quarters on the Isle of Wight and arrived on site two days later.  The salvage was completed by PRODIVE within a week of the call to SEAFLEX and the Jean Ricciardi has now been safely removed from the water to be broken up for scrap.

For more information or quotation contact: Graham Brading –


Unique Maritime Group acquires Seaflex Ltd.

Posted in Air lift bags, inflatable buoyancy units, marine salvage, Underwater air lift bags on June 2, 2011 by Seaflex

Unique Maritime Group

Unique Maritime Group a leading provider of specialized engineering solutions to the subsea and offshore oil and gas industries worldwide announced the acquisition of Seaflex Ltd today (24th April 2011).  Seaflex Ltd.  is a leading provider of marine buoyancy products and water filled test weights. Seaflex’s product range includes, subsea air lift bags, inflatable buoyancy units, WaterLoad test weights, cable and pipeline buoyancy, lifeboat testing ballast bags, yacht fenders and yacht racing buoys.  Seaflex is a BS EN ISO 9001:2008 company, independently certified by Lloyds Register Quality Assurance and its products comply with current IMCA and EC regulations.

Lifting aircraft airframe using air bags

The purchase of Seaflex Ltd., based in Isle of Wight, further strengthens Unique Maritime Group’s strategic goal  to expand its Manufacturing , Sales & Rental operations for specialized products worldwide. “The acquisition is also expected to result in greater efficiencies and significantly increase our market share” said Harry Gandhi CEO of Unique Maritime Group.

Seaflex will continue to operate under the same name & Graham Brading will take over as Managing Director. Mark Board continues to provide valuable support to him as a consultant for next two years.

“The acquisition of Seaflex was a calculated decision and was accomplished through an exclusive negotiation process under the guidance of Pinsent & Masons as legal advisors.” explained  Harry.