STS-51L Recovery Force

The following information is from Volume 3: 'Appendix O - NASA Search, Recovery and Reconstruction Task Force Team Report' from the 'Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident' (The Rogers Report)

Table 1. Search and Salvage Vessel Assets and Capabilities (Summarised)


Ship Dates Used Comments

UTC Freedom Star (NASA)

2/8/86 - Present


UTC Liberty Star (NASA)

2/8/86 - Present


UTC Independence (NASA)

2/8/86 - Present

Unmanned ROV

LCU-Range Boat (USAF)

2/8/86 - 4/7/86

Range Salvage Vessel, C115-1925
14 Divers

USS Preserver (US Navy)

2/8/86 - 4/11/86

22 Divers

USS Opportune (US Navy)

4/5/86 - Present

22 Divers
Unmanned ROV Scorpi was employed starting April 22, 1986

USS Sunbird (US Navy)

2/20/86 - 3/18/86 &
3/31/86 - 4/17/86

NR-1 Support
24 Divers

NR-1 Research Submarine (US Navy)

2/20/86 - 3/18/86 &
3/31/86 - 4/17/86

Wide Search Area

USS Kittiwake (US Navy)

4/11/86 - 4/22/86

24 Divers

MSV Stena Workhorse (SUPSALV)

2/28/86 - 5/1/86

Unmanned ROV Gemini

Seward Johnson (SUPSALV)

2/21/86 - 4/19/86

Operates the Johnson Sea-Link 2

Edwin Link (SUPSALV)

3/27/86 - 5/1/86

Operates the Johnson Sea-Link 1

R/V G.W. Pierce II (SUPSALV)

2/25/86 - 4/19/86

12 Divers

R/V Paul Langevin III (SUPSALV)

3/13/86 - Present


Eliminator (SUPSALV)

Not Mentioned

Support Craft for Personnel and Cargo X-fer

Pelican Princess (SUPSALV)

Not Mentioned

Support Craft for Personnel and Cargo X-fer

1) The report documents events through May 1, 1986 when deep water salvage operations were terminated and supporting assets demobilized. Salvage operations involving the recovery of high-interest debris in shallow water areas were ongoing.
2) The report concentrates on the salvage of major parts in order to determine the cause of the accident. It therefore does not list any US Coast Guard asserts. It also does not list Navy asserts that were not involved in deep water salvage operations.
3) SUPSALV is the The U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage.

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Last modified on 10 December 2011