A WIGAN firm is at the forefront of the operation to salvage the doomed Costa Concordia cruise liner.
Northern Diver in Appley Bridge raced into action to supply vital equipment at short notice after being contacted by one of their clients, Titan Salvage, the company leading the mission alongside Italian firm Micoperi.
The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012, claiming the lives of 32 people and injuring many more.
Northern Diver, which employs 35 people locally, is a leading diving and drysuit equipment company and has grown into a global firm which supplies dry diving equipment to military, commercial and rescue teams in more than 30 countries and to more than 1,000 businesses worldwide.
Northern Diver Sales Executive Jonathan Warburton, who manages Titan Salvage’s account, said: “Titan advised us that they were mobilising another vessel to the scene of the wreck and required around 30 drysuits as soon as possible.
“The order comprised of our Origin and Divemaster Commercial drysuits. We were able to dispatch the order the next day as we carry a large amount of stock for immediate delivery.”
The ship has been removed from the rocks off Giglio on which it was resting on its side and, more recently, refloated.
It is now being towed at a speed of two knots and escorted by a convoy of vessels to the Mediterranean coastal city of Genoa, where it will be scrapped at a nearby port.
The scrapping operation is expected to take years to complete.
This stage of the recovery process is the result of a complex operation involving a team of 500 salvage workers, engineers and divers.
“The operation ran day and night, seven days a week and was assisted by 30 vessels.
A spokesman for the salvage company said: “This is the biggest salvage ever attempted on a ship of its size and costs are expected to exceed €500 m.
With 40 years of innovation, Northern Diver International has maintained a reputation as one of the world’s elite drysuit and diving equipment manufacturers.
It specialises in military diving equipment, including non-magnetic systems for mine warfare and commercial diving equipment for both air and mixed gas up to depths of 350m.
Mr Warburton added: “We can supply absolutely anything diving related, both on water and under water, whether it is shallow water diving equipment as required by the special forces.
“The main catalyst to our success is our ability to manufacture bespoke products to each customer’s specific requirements.
“This is the result of working closely with the end user in order to understand the requirements for their unique working conditions.
“Northern Diver is now the prime contractor for the UK MoD in this area and supplies equipment to most friendly nations around the world.”
The company has been recognised as one of the most innovative around thanks to a Government campaign aimed at supporting British businesses.
The thriving company founded by Mike Armitage is just one of many firms supported by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), which was set up to help British firms succeed in the international market.
The government initiative is part of the Business is Great Britain campaign, kick-started by business secretary Vince Cable and skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock last year.
It also has its own research and development department to help create the diving suits of the future.