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Daniel H. Wagner Associates is a consulting firm with
a unique connection to the search and salvage process. One of
the specialty areas for Wagner Associates is search and surveillance.
Wagner consultants have provided scientific planning, analysis,
and on-site support for a number of high visibility searches.
In each of these searches, the scientific search planning
techniques contributed significantly to the search effort. Wagner
Associates can provide similar consulting assistance to you,
saving you and your organization valuable search time and money.
Wagner's consulting services are most often requested when
the location of the target is uncertain and the search resources
including time and money are limited. The mathematical principles
of probability analysis used to plan the optimal search area
for the USS Scorpion in the late
1960s have evolved to where, at present, the probability calculations
and search grid planning functions are now accomplished in a
fraction of the time it took just four or five years ago.
MELIAN II Search Software
The firm uses a comprehensive computer program designed under
contract to the US Army Space and Strategic Defense Command to
plan and support search and recovery of missile debris in the
Marshall Islands. The current program, MELIAN
II, not only provides the probability analysis and search
planning but also drives the search vessel using autopilot, while
it stores all sensor data and ownship information to rewriteable
optical disc, from which the entire mission can be replayed.
In addition to their support of underwater search and survey
operations, Wagner is a leading developer of computerized search
systems, including the latest computer aided search programs
for the US Coast Guard search and rescue, for Navy Surface Surveillance
operations, and for Navy minefield clearance.
Shuttle Challenger Search
The search and recovery operation following the 1986 Challenger disaster was one of the biggest planning
and coordination efforts ever undertaken. Wagner Associates was
responsible for developing and operating computer systems that
kept track of all the sonar tracks run and all the contacts that
were identified by numerous search vessels.
Wagner's consultants were on site continuously for over six months
and used computers to prepare detailed maps of the underwater
wreckage. Samples of these maps can be seen in the Report
of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Accident,
More information about the Challenger Accident.
SS Central America Search
In September of 1857, the 2100 ton SS Central America set
sail from Panama en route to New York. For most passengers, it
was the final leg of a journey that had begun in the California
gold fields. Halfway into her passage, the ship encountered a
hurricane. Trapped in raging winds for three days, she sank on
September 12, approximately 200 miles out to sea.
On board, the ship carried more than three tons of gold. In 1986,
the Columbus America Discovery Group was formed to locate the
wreck of the Central America, and recover the gold and historical
Constraints on the project were severe. The company was operating
on limited resources. Information on the last reported position
of the ship was contradictory. Records on weather, tide, and
ocean current were voluminous but inconsistent. Suitable weather
for search and recovery was limited to a few months a year. With
these considerations, Columbus America Discovery Group commissioned
Wagner Associates to determine the most likely shipwreck locations.
Our ultimate objective was to construct a probability map estimating
the wreck's candidate locations from high probability to low
probability. This map enabled our client to plan the search,
and estimate the the amount of time, effort, and money necessary
to ensure a high probability of success.
We considered two approaches -
- pooling all of the relevant data
- partitioning the data based on three separate scenarios
We chose the second approach. Using models and software developed
for search and rescue, we computed the required probability map
for each scenario. Each map was valued according to the reliability
of the underlying data. Ultimately the maps were combined to
generate the single recommended search area.
Using our methods, the Columbus America Discovery Group located
the SS Central America -- along with approximately four hundred
million dollars in gold.
Motor Vessel Derbyshire Search
In 1980, the Motor Vessel Derbyshire, the largest British ship ever lost at
sea went down 200NM east of Okinawa. The ship sunk so
rapidly that the crew was unable to send an SOS. Families of
the victims and others had long believed that structural failure
contributed to the loss, as other ships of the same class had
experienced similar failures. Resolving this question would require
locating and examining the wreck.
One famous expert had declared the ship to be unlocatable. Oceaneering
had estimated that the search would take ten days to two weeks,
but the sponsors of the search had only enough money to mount
a search for a few days. In 1994, Wagner Associates was approached by Oceaneering Technologies Corporation to volunteer assistance
in developing a search plan. Using a preliminary version of the MELIAN II SEARCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEM, Wagner combined the clues
to define a small search area and a four day search plan. The
wreck was found on the first day of searching, thereby saving
the significant cost of additional search effort.
Motor Vessel Lucona Search
In 1977, the Motor Vessel Lucona sank in the Indian Ocean
after a mysterious explosion in good weather. The Master and
five others survived and six crew perished. In 1990, Wagner Associates
analyzed all the evidence and documentation and then developed
a probability map and search plan that led to the successful
location of the wreck.
The results of the successful search by Oceaneering, based on
this careful search plan, was that the sinking was found to be
deliberate and fraudulent, and the responsible party charged
with insurance fraud and murder.
On May 22, 1968, the nuclear attack submarine USS Scorpion
(SSN-589) sank while on a routine transit from the Mediterranean
to Norfolk, Virginia. There were many theories as to why the
Scorpion went down and several clues as to the location. Wagner
Associates helped develop the search plan and worked with salvagers
and planners on scene to compute the probability of detection
and predict how long the search would last. This famous incident
and its ground breaking methods were written up in scientific
Air Force H-Bomb Search
On January 17, 1966, an Air Force Bomber accidentally dropped
four H-Bombs near Palomares Spain. Three fell on land but one
dropped into the sea. Again, there were conflicting ideas about
what happened and at least one clue to location, given by a fisherman
who apparently saw the bomb hit the water. Wagner Associates
developed the search plan and consulted on scene. The bomb was
found by the search and later safely recovered.