SMIT Salvage: Global recoverer of famous shipwrecks
Dutch-based SMIT Salvage, which on Wednesday towed the stricken cargo ship Modern Express to the Spanish port of Bilbao, has worked on some of the most high-profile salvage operations in recent years, including the wrecks of Russian nuclear submarine Kursk and Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia.
Here we take a closer look at the company:
AT A GLANCE
SMIT Salvage specialises in rescuing ships in distress and recovering wrecks around the globe.
It also pumps out and stores hazardous substances like fuel from sinking ships to prevent pollution.
SMIT Salvage is one of two branches of the SMIT company, founded in 1842 in Rotterdam.
The other arm, SMIT Towing operates over 200 tugboats in ports globally. Its offices are in Papendrecht, just southeast of Rotterdam, Europe's largest harbour and seventh-largest in the world.
In 2010 SMIT was bought by Boskalis, a Dutch-based marine company which specialises in dredging and port development.
In addition to the 1,100 vessels making up Boskalis' fleet, SMIT Salvage says it has specialised equipment in "strategic locations" in Rotterdam, Houston, Cape Town and Singapore.
"The equipment is airmobile and held ready for immediate dispatch, anywhere in the world," the company says on its website.
Its hi-tech tool box includes various submersible pumps, high-powered cutters, decompression chambers, zodiac-type boats, sonar equipment, cranes that can be installed on barges and anti-oil pollution booms and skimmers.
SMIT counts divers, engineers, consultants and naval architects among its employees.
Together with the Mammoet company, SMIT Salvage recovered the Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, which sank during manoeuvres in the Barents Sea in 2000, killing all 118 crew members.
It also took part in attempts to rescue the oil tanker Prestige which sank off the Spanish coast in 2002, spilling 63,000 tonnes of oil into the sea and blackening 2,980 kilometres (1,850 miles) of coastline in Spain, France and Portugal with sludge.
The Dutch company was involved in salvaging Norwegian ship Tricolor, which sank off France's Dunkirk harbour in 2002 after a collision, carrying almost 3,000 vehicles onboard.
The Costa Concordia cruise ship sank in January 2012 after hitting a rock just off Giglio Island in western Italy, with the loss of 32 lives. SMIT Salvage bunkered some 2,200 tonnes of fuel distributed among Costa Concordia's 17 tanks. Floating booms were deployed in a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) radius to prevent pollution.
© 2016 AFP