ST Company ProfilePhoenix International: Providing Quality Underwater Services Worldwide
Phoenix International Holdings Inc. (Largo, Maryland) is an experienced ISO 9001-2008 (Management System) certified marine services company and recognized industry leader providing quality manned and unmanned underwater services to meet the specialized needs of government and commercial clients worldwide. With a passion for conducting high-quality subsea operations and engineering support services all over the world, Phoenix has gained a solid reputation for successfully addressing unique and challenging customer problems, often on very short notice. Phoenix has worked on a range of complex projects, such as underwater wet welding 95 feet beneath the surface on an offshore oil rig and ROV operations at depths up to 6,000 meters.
Phoenix divers have logged 36,415 hours underwater since the company’s founding in 1997.
In addition to Phoenix’s oil and gas, ocean sciences and other commercial industry customers, the company conducts support work for the U.S. Navy. Phoenix is the U.S. Navy’s prime contractor for three rapid (24/7) worldwide response contracts: the Diving Services contract, the Undersea Operations contract and the Submarine Rescue contract. These contracts, all managed through the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), have earned Phoenix a solid reputation as the U.S. Navy’s reliable and trusted partner in addressing complex and challenging emergent undersea problems.
Back in September 1997, Phoenix started as a company with the award of the U.S. Navy Diving Services contract to provide diving, underwater ship repair and engineering services in support of the NAVSEA Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) Office. Beginning as a group of 12 dedicated employees, Phoenix quickly gained NAVSEA approval for several underwater welding and nondestructive testing procedures required by the contract. With these procedures, the company began deploying its underwater ship repair diving specialists all over the world in support of NAVSEA tasking.
In the years since, Phoenix divers have logged more than 36,000 hours underwater, which equates to more than four years of bottom time, while executing hundreds of emergent and routine underwater ship and submarine repairs involving dry chamber welding, wet welding, nondestructive testing and heavy rigging.
In addition, Phoenix engineers have developed new cofferdams, underwater inspection systems, and diver tools and procedures to improve the U.S. Navy’s underwater ship repair capabilities.
Cumulatively, these efforts have resulted in saving the U.S. Navy time and money by providing solutions that keep ships out of dry dock and ready for sea. Today, Phoenix is in the middle of executing its third multiyear Diving Services contract, a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the company’s divers, engineers and managers that work each day in support of the U.S. Navy’s underwater ship repair program.
Developing Underwater Robotic Capabilities
Soon after the company’s founding in 1997, Phoenix began developing a commercial underwater robotic capability, starting with an ROV called Remora. This 6,000-meter-rated ROV was designed by Phoenix personnel to offer a compact and highly transportable underwater robotic system capable of rapid response in support of deep-ocean inspection and recovery operations worldwide. Phoenix used Remora to execute a series of successful deep-ocean search and recovery projects, including the identification of the lost Israeli submarine INS Dakar in the Mediterranean Sea at 3,000 meters; the recovery of a Japanese rocket booster in the Pacific at 3,000 meters; and the wreckage recovery of an Israeli F-16 in the Mediterranean from 1,000 meters. These efforts demonstrated Phoenix’s ability to rapidly mobilize significant search and recovery capabilities on vessels of opportunity in response to the needs of the international community.
In 2001, Phoenix used this extensive relevant experience to win the NAVSEA SUPSALV Undersea Operations contract to operate and maintain the U.S. Navy’s inventory of search and recovery underwater robotic systems managed by SUPSALV. Since being awarded this contract, Phoenix has deployed underwater search and recovery teams all over the world and successfully executed more than 100 operations to depths up to 6,000 meters. Today, Phoenix is in its 12th straight year as NAVSEA’s prime contractor for deep-ocean search and recovery.
Contained within the 2001 version of the NAVSEA Undersea Operations contract was a requirement to assist the U.S. Navy in standing up its new Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS). To address this requirement, Phoenix assembled a group of experienced and specialized submarine rescue-related companies, subsequently called Team Phoenix. Following the award of the Undersea Operations contract, Team Phoenix worked with the U.S. Navy and other contractors to deliver the SRDRS to the Navy as a rescue-ready asset.
NAVSEA then established a new contract solely dedicated to supporting SRDRS. Team Phoenix, leveraging experience gained through executing SRDRS-related tasking under the NAVSEA Undersea Operations contract, was competitively awarded this new contract in 2006. Phoenix has been serving in this role ever since and is now recognized as one of the leading providers of submarine rescue.
As the U.S. Navy’s submarine rescue support contractor, Team Phoenix has worked to deploy the SRDRS from its homeport in San Diego, California, to a number of locations in support of international submarine rescue exercises involving as many as 24 countries. During one such exercise off the coast of Norway in 2008, the SRDRS was used to safely transfer 203 “rescuees” to the surface from submarines bottomed in 140 meters seawater. This initial exercise signified the start of the U.S. Navy’s new SRDRS era in worldwide submarine rescue response capability, and Team Phoenix was proud to be a part of it.
A critical thrust in providing high-quality subsea services to the U.S. Navy involves the use of cutting edge underwater technology. In 2012, Phoenix made a significant investment in this area through the purchase of a 21-inch-diameter Bluefin-21 AUV from Bluefin Robotics Corp. (Quincy, Massachusetts). This vehicle is capable of working to depths of 4,500 meters while executing precisely positioned side scan sonar, multibeam sonar, sub-bottom profiling and underwater digital imagery collection operations.
In July 2013, Phoenix shipped its Bluefin-21 AUV to Okinawa, Japan, in support of a U.S. Navy search and recovery mission, where it was used to locate the wreckage of a U.S. Air Force F-15 aircraft at 3,000 meters depth. As this example shows, by continuing to invest in new technology, Phoenix further enhances its underwater services capabilities, providing a clear benefit to both Navy and commercial customers.
Commercial Industry Base
In addition to supporting three U.S. Navy prime contracts, Phoenix has an extensive commercial industry customer base. With offices in Houston, Texas, and Bayou Vista, Louisiana, Phoenix supports oil and gas customers with diving, ROV and one atmosphere diving systems (ADS) in the execution of underwater inspection, repair and salvage projects. The company has also grown steadily in the commercial underwater ship repair industry through the efforts of dive teams operating from facilities in Norfolk, Virginia; San Diego, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; and a new office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Phoenix has also continued to serve the international community with deep-ocean search and recovery services, including the 2011 recovery of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from Air France Flight 447 from 3,900 meters of seawater in the South Atlantic.
As these examples show, Phoenix has extensive commercial industry experience. The same Phoenix personnel that support the U.S. Navy also support Phoenix’s commercial work, which leads to enhanced complementary undersea skills and experience between commercial and defense projects.
Building on History
Since its modest beginning in 1997, Phoenix has grown to 230 employees working from seven U.S.-based facilities. Through all of this growth, Phoenix remains committed to providing superior undersea services to the U.S. Navy and commercial customers. Whether conducting underwater welding operations on a ship in San Diego California, locating and recovering aircraft wreckage in the Mediterranean, or conducting a submarine rescue exercise off of India, Phoenix is mission-ready and dedicated to support the U.S. Navy, as well as its commercial clients, with superior subsea services.