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U/W Metal Detectors For Law Enforcement and Commercial Diving

Tags: p8x, diving, magnetometers

Indian River County Fire Rescue diver surfaces holding 16 inch coil after recovering evidence
Inset - Randive diver jumps in with Pulse 8X metal detector to locate and clear metal objects from bottom of New York Harbor.

Many commercial diving companies and law enforcement agencies are acquiring underwater metal detectors to help in their search and recovery operations. Designed for use in the subsea environment, these detectors have a minimal number of controls making them extremely easy for divers to operate. They are an essential piece of equipment for locating and tracking pipelines, searching for lost tools and equipment, pinpointing the position of anchors and moorings, as well as finding weapons, evidence, and explosives.

New Jersey based Randive is one of the diving companies employing underwater metal detectors in their operations. In the five decades since its founding in 1959 by Randor Erlandson, Randive has continuously expanded their capabilities, and today its clients include some of the largest shipping companies in the world. They perform ship maintenance and repair, salvage and survey work, inspection and repair of dry docks, piers and a variety of other tasks. The company is affiliated with a number of professional organizations including the Association of Diving Contractors International and the Society of Maritime Port Engineers.

In a recent cable laying project across New York harbor, Randive's divers used their JW Fishers Pulse 8X detector to locate metal obstructions and mark them for removal. For this job, the 16 inch search coil was attached to the detector's electronics unit providing greater penetration into the muddy bottom. In another project, the 8X proved beneficial in the search for a 8 foot wide stainless steel propeller lost from a towboat. Although buried deep in silt, Randive's Keith Michalski reports their experienced divers were able to quickly find and recover it. When the target of interest is buried down more than 6 feet, Randive puts their Fisher PT-1 pinpointing magnetometer to work. This powerful detector finds iron and steel objects up to 16 feet under the bottom. It proved indispensable in locating and tracking a deeply buried natural gas pipeline running under the Hudson River near Manhattan.

Ma'agan Marine Ltd in Israel also uses their underwater detector to find subsea pipelines. Ma'agan is the largest provider of diving services and marine engineering works in the country. In addition to installing, repairing, and maintaining undersea oil, gas and water lines, their divers also do underwater welding, cutting, cable installations, construct mooring systems, salvage and recovery operations, rock blasting, mining, and excavation. Diving supervisor Shai Panasoff reported on a recent project; "We used our Pulse 8X in 32 meters of water to survey the route of a buried gas pipeline for Israel Natural Gas Lines, and it worked perfectly."

Commercial divers are not the only ones using underwater detectors, a number of law enforcement and public safety dive teams are putting these devices to work in their search operations. State Police and FBI dive teams across the US are using the Pulse 8X to locate weapons used in the commission of crimes and disposed of in a waterway. Criminals mistakenly believe that by throwing a gun or knife into a river or lake, it will be lost forever. In reality, law enforcement divers equipped with an underwater metal detector easily find these weapons. Detectors can also assist in the recovery of evidence as witnessed by Lt. Kyle Kofke with Indian River County Fire Rescue in Florida. Recently the dive team was tasked with searching the mucky bottom of the Indian River Lagoon with their Pulse 8X looking for possible evidence in a homicide investigation. The 16 inch coil was attached to the detector allowing divers to search a large area quickly. Lt. Kofke reported divers found the victim's cell phone which provided a time line for the day's events, a key piece of evidence needed to charge the defendant with murder.

In Alabama, Daphne County search and rescue used their metal detector to locate industrial tools that were taken in a burglary at a commercial construction business, and then dumped in a pond. According to Lt. Josh Gibbs, "The robbers assumed the tools would never be found due to the remote location of the site, and the fact they would be covered by water and sediment. With the help of our Pulse 8X we were able to locate and recover more than two dozen pieces of stolen property, which became the evidence used in the prosecution of several robbery suspects."