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Shipwreck Men go after marine salvage bounty on Discovery

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

There is money to be made on the waters off the coast of south Florida, and tonight Discovery Channel will introduce viewers to the men who fight the good fight to save sinking vessels in distress.

Fans of salvage and shipping can now watch the two come together in an all-new Discovery Channel series, Shipwreck Men, premiering tonight.

Marine salvage is the focus of Shipwreck Men, and, says the Discovery Channel, competition is fierce and big money is at stake in the modern-day “pirate” business. No, no ships are being boarded and taken over by these determined men; the “bounty” they are after is boats in distress. Scanning the waters day and night, the Shipwreck Men are there when trouble strikes.

Racing into action, the first crew on the scene is the one that gets the job, along with lucrative profits. Sometimes they are able to save a sinking vessel—the best scenario. They may be rescuing boats from dangerous hurricane winds or putting out massive fires on the ship in question, much to the relief of the men aboard. However, saving these ships is not always possible. Then, salvage comes into play. Either way, there is money—big money—to be made for the crew that can get to the scene before the rest. Those who arrive late? Well, they get nothing, and are relegated to waiting until the next job presents itself, when they can try, try again—and hopefully arrive first often enough to keep their respective businesses afloat.

Who are these men behind south Florida’s fiercest salvage companies on Discovery’s Shipwreck Men? Meet them now:

Arnold's Towing
Ricky Arnold, Sr., a fourth generation Key West resident, built his business from the ground up. He started his salvage company with five-gallon buckets and a boat, removing derelict vessels filled with all kinds of dangers - from parasites to sharks. Ricky, a headstrong and unapologetic man, does things his own way, even if that means all-out fights with his sons RJ and Shane, also in business with him. Together they are taking marine salvage to the next level, all while preserving their family roots in Key West.

Atlantis Marine Towing & Salvage
Stu Korpela is a salvage pioneer. After serving in the Air Force and later as an aircraft mechanic for a private company, Stu headed for Florida where in 1974 he made an even trade: his house on land for a 52' sailboat that he and his family call home. He runs one of the most accomplished and feared independent salvage businesses around. Stu's son Burt has been in the salvage business with his father his whole life and is just as ruthless as Stu. Also like his father, Burt is raising his family on the water, making a boat their home - a huge advantage in a business where timing is everything.

Downrite Marine Towing
Based in Ft. Lauderdale, owner Ryan Sewell is a self-taught salvage operator. He bought his first boat at 16 and, after a short stint as a firefighter, returned to the water to become one of the fiercest wreck salvage guys in the business. Through hard work and hard lessons learned, he has taken Downrite Marine Towing from a one-boat operation to one of the top independent salvagers in southern Florida. His services range from dead boat batteries to major catastrophes.

Fast Response Marine Towing
Twenty-eight year-old Chuck Hansen runs one of the newer salvage companies in Miami Beach. He will take just about any job he can to keep the business alive, even if that means sleeping by his radio at night so he can react quickly to distress calls. While he has a steep learning curve, his approach of being one of the most honest - and cheapest - companies in town has helped him grow his small but struggling business.

Shipwreck Men hits the airwaves on Discovery Channel tonight, Monday, January 14, at 9 p.m. E/P.

Image: Discovery Channel

Video: Discovery Channel/Shipwreck Men

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