American marine salvage: from The Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corp. to TITAN Salvage

A few weeks ago the US Navy awarded TITAN Salvage the contract to serve as the commercial marine salvage and engineering support contractor for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the division of the US Navy responsible for engineering, building, buying and maintaining Navy vessels and their combat systems. According to a company press release, TITAN will “provide the Navy with marine salvage, salvage-related towing, harbor clearance, ocean engineering and point-to-point towing services in the event of an emergency or incident.”

The Crowley Maritime Group, which owns TITAN, had held the contract more-or-less continuously since 1976. As TITAN’s vice president Rich Habib stated:

We are pleased that the U.S. Navy has entrusted TITAN with this contract and look forward to providing the Navy the same high level of service that Crowley has provided for the last 34 years. As a salvage industry leader, TITAN is well positioned to take on this contract. TITAN’s long record of global salvage, wreck removal and response to natural disasters prepares us well should the Navy call.

Not many firms have held this contract. The first was the Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corporation, which I’ve been researching for the dissertation. Most of that work has been on one of the firm’s founders, Captain T.A. Scott of New London, Connecticut. But in the course of things I’ve traced the rise and fall of the entire company, the nation’s first major salvage outfit. The firm fell apart during the 1960s and its salvage equipment was bought out by Murphy Pacific, who also took over the naval salvage contract. Murphy held the contract into the 1970s, it being the firm that removed ten large vessels scuttled in the Suez Canal during the Six-Days War. [Click here to read the fascinating official report about this seven-month operation]. My knowledge of the mid-70s salvage business is lacking — can anyone out there fill it in for us? (Anything beyond what’s already available in the Crowley company history, available for download here)

1 Comment

Filed under Dissertation Digest, Shipwreck culture, Where'd it come from?

One response to “American marine salvage: from The Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corp. to TITAN Salvage

  1. james w walker

    just came across your work..i was the navy mgr for murphy pacic’s comtracts in late early 70’s and was with crowley in mid 70’s when we successfully bid on two salvage contracts with supsalv. in you think i might be of help feel free to contact me

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