Halter Launches Rocket Booster Recovery Vessel 'Independence7

launches independence7

Jack Edwards, president of Halter Marine, has announced the recent launching of the solid rocket booster recovery vessel Independence at its Moss Point, Miss., yard. The 200-foot vessel will perform the key role in the recovery of rocket boosters launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of the space shuttle program.

Participating in the launching ceremony as principal speaker was Maj. Gen. Donald W. Henderson, the officer in charge of the Air Force's Shuttle Program. His wife, Dawn E. Henderson, christened the vessel.

The twin-screw vessel is propelled by two Cummins KTA-3067-M 16- cylinder diesel engines, each with an output of 1,250 bhp at 1,800 rpm. She is fully equipped to handle all necessary diving evolutions, with complete diving equipment, air refilling systems, and a hyperbaric chamber for decompression. Bow and stern thrusters will be used for propulsion for safety when divers are in the water. A complete electronics system for navigation, communications, and for locating and recovering the rocket boosters will be installed.

The Independence is being built by Halter under a contract from Lockheed Shipbuilding. The Lockheed Space and Operations Company will take delivery of the vessel, which will be operated for Lockheed by Morton Thiokol. Delivery is scheduled for May this year.

Gen. Henderson stated that the solid rocket booster recovery process is a "prime example of de- signed-in cost avoidance that contributes substantially to providing an affordable launch system. A new set of solid rocket boosters costs $67 million. The retrieval and refurbishment cuts that cost to $22 million, a net saving of $45 million per mission. The Independence may well pay back its costs in the first few missions." He then went on to praise the Lockheed/Halter team responsible for the Independence, in particular the shipyard at Halter Marine's Moss Point yard for building the vessel on schedule and within budget. Mr. Edwards, in his launching ceremony address, said that the performance of the program to date is a tribute to the Lockheed and Halter team. He said that he was pleased that the Moss Point yard once again demonstrated its superb performance by building a vessel of outstanding quality and meeting the rigorous schedule required to deliver the Independence on schedule.

The Independence is expected to participate in the first space shuttle launch from the Vandenburg site, which is scheduled for early 1986.

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