REFLOATING OF A F16 Block 52


Salvage of a Hellenic Air Force aircraft that crashed the sea between the Chora Sfakion and Gavdos Isl., Southern Crete.


On the 4th of December 2014, crashed on the sea area southern of Crete, by mechanical failure a twin pilot aircraft type F16 Block 52 + with S/N 614, after the crew abandon the aircraft.

The aircraft found after researches in the wider crash area, at bottom depth of 970 meters, having remains in the 80% entire and found in sandy bottom standing in it’s wheels.

After an international Invitation to tender, the Hellenic Center of Marine Research awarded as contractor and from their side awarded Ignatios Spanopoulos S.A. as a subcontractor for the salvage of of the crashed aircraft. The objective of the two partners was the salvage of the whole aircraft using an ROV and a floating crane in order to lift the plane from this depth and bring it to the surface.

For this reason our technical team took many measurements on real aircraft of this type and with the assistance of the ROV operators and the air force mechanics prepare the appropriate gear and selected the suitable points that offers safety for the salvage. On the 27th of June 2016 sailed from Piraeus the F/C IGNATIOS III towed by T/B CHRISTOS XVIII and the R/V AEGAEO of HCMR, with final destination the crash area southern of Crete Island.

On the 29th of June the R/V AEGAEO relocate the aircraft and did a final inspection. The next days after a few dives with the ROV the team fixed three lifting point on both wings and on the dorsal fin. The 3rd of July the ROV tied the kevlar rope on the three lifting chains and brought the free end of the rope to the surface.

The Kevlar rope fitted on a hydraulic winch that was on the crane barge and started a slow ascent with speed 4 meters per minute to achieve the minimum pressure impacts to the aircraft. At 15 meters water depth the lifting stopped and the crane lower a metallic deck and with the divers’ help putted the aircraft on this deck and tied securely the aircraft. The crane at the end lifted the metallic deck and the aircraft together and brought it out of the water. The total salvage completed at 8 hours.

After an inspection the technician from the Hellenic Air-force found that the engine wasn’t on the aircraft and the ROV start another dive. From the crash all the fitting of the engine broke and it wasn’t possible to lift it with the aircraft. After three more successive dives with the ROV, two lifting points fitted on the engine and the Kevlar rope connected on the two lifting points. The free end came to the surface and connected again to the hydraulic drum. The lifting of the engine completed in four hours because of the compact form of the engine.

After the works completion both the engine and the aircraft delivered on Souda Naval Base at 7/7/2016 where trucks of the Hellenic Air Force waiting to transport the equipment to the to the Air-force Base. The whole project completed with the arrival of the convoy on Piraeus Port the 9th of July 2016.