The Artificial Reef Society of BC (ARSBC) is a registered non-profit society based in Vancouver, B.C. Their mission is to create environmentally and economically sustainable “artificial reefs” in B.C. and around the world. They have been operating since 1991 and has sunk 6 ships and one Boeing 737 which was donated by Air Canada.
The Discovery Channel’s Megabuilders show decided to shoot an episode of the Boeing 737 being transported and sunk of the coast of British Columbia. The project was filled with challenges from the very beginning. IMT was contracted to deliver and position the plane on time to the barge pickup point on the shoreline as well as haul the plane off the barge to the preparation site.
The wings were left on the plane, adding to the challenge. A Boeing 737’s wingspan is 34 m (111.5’) wide, while a typical semi-truck trailer is 2.6 m (102 inches) wide. Getting the plane out of the airport required obstacles such as fences and signs to be removed.
There was a risk of the barge running aground in the shallow channel, which meant the team had 15 minutes to roll the plane onto the barge to ensure the tide was at its highest point. One of our most experienced drivers, Ted Vanderveen was at the wheel to position the plane and back it onto the barge. Once the tide reached its highest point, the clock was ticking to position the plane properly, while also ensuring the safety of both the crew and equipment.
The trailer lost traction at the edge of the ramp leading onto the barge, but some quick action by our team ensured that the plane was loaded within the tight 15 minute time frame.
Once the barge reached the prep site, there was a major issue with the ground being uneven at the landing zone. A makeshift bridge was devised using some concrete anchor blocks and steel plates. This makeshift bridge required some precision driving by IMT, in order to successfully navigate the 17ton airplane onto dry ground. One slight miscalculation would result in the entire load tipping over, dragging the truck and likely some of the crew with it.
IMT was also responsible for the transport and on-time delivery of the custom-fabricated cradle system that was attached to the underside of the plane. Possibly the most crucial and dangerous part of the operation was when the plane was lifted and IMT had to drive the trailer out from under the plane.
Through a collaboration by several different companies and associations, the plane was successfully sunk and is now the new home for thousands of species of marine life. IMT is proud to have been part of this operation and happy to put our AOG logistics expertise to the test. For the entire episode see Season 2 episode 4 of the Discovery Channel’s Megabuilders.