GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - It was a strange sight Wednesday -- a salvaged passenger jet floating down the St. Johns River aboard a barge. But perhaps it's not the oddest thing that a Clay County company has moved along the river.
Mobro Marine, the Green Cove Springs marine company that handled lifting the Boeing 737 from the St. Johns River where it ended up Friday night and moved it to Green Cove Springs, has moved larger and more unusual cargo in the past.
Seven years ago, Mobro towed a NASA space shuttle external tank from Kennedy Space Center up the Intracoastal Waterway and south on the St. Johns River to its current location at Reynolds Industrial Park.
The 154-foot-long gas tank had been on display for years at Kennedy's visitor complex when it was brought north for the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum at the Keystone Heights Airport in Starke.
While the booster never made it beyond Reynolds Park, flash forward seven years, the industrial park is now hosting the salvaged Miami Air International Boeing 737.
"The booster was a big animal, but those are the kinds of things that we do," said Steve Cumella, Mobro's Chief Financial Officer Steve Cumella.
While the Miami Air International jet is shorter than the external fuel tank, hoisting the plane onto the barge was difficult and risky for Mobro salvage crews. Mobro consulted Boeing engineers for rigging the salvage, Cumella said.
Slings attached near bulkheads are sturdy points that kept the plane intact during the hoist onto the barge.
After the move, the Boeing jet will sit next to the NASA tank while National Transportation Safety Board inspectors dismantle it.
In addition to supplying heavy equipment to repair the Fuller Warren Bridge, Mobro has towed houses, fighter jets and even a NASA astronaut transport vehicle across the St. Johns. Its boats, barges and cranes have been used for projects all over the world.
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