CLEVELAND, Ohio - Divers with the company 'Underwater Marine Contractors' braved the icy waters of the Cuyahoga River on Wednesday, razing a fishing boat two days after the vessel sank.
The boat, aptly named the 'Recovery,' sat idle for as long as 30 years, moored along the river across from Tower City.
This week, time and the elements finally caught up with the aging vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard insisted it had to be removed from the river, not because it was obstructing water traffic, but because it was leaking oil and fuel.
But while the air temperature in Cleveland was climbing into the 40s, the warmest it has been in more than a week, a nearby monitoring station showed the water temperature in the Cuyahoga River remained just above freezing at 36 degrees.
At that temperature, the river could become deadly without proper dive equipment in as little as fifteen minutes.
To stretch cables under the sunken boat in near zero visibility, diver Christopher Imbriogotta spent hours in the river on Wednesday protected by a dive suit in which he says he wore layers of warm clothes, not very different from how anyone would protect themselves from the elements on dry land.
"It's a rubber suit, what you wear underneath - the thermals - that's what helps, but it keeps you dry. At least as long as you don't get a hole in it," said Imbriogotta.
The effort to raise the sunken boat and pump the water out of it took most of the day Wednesday.
The company works year around regardless of the conditions. Bart Shasfort of Underwater Marine Contractors says if they were not working at this site, they would be working somewhere else.
"Sometimes it can be warmer underwater, even though the water is near freezing, than it is outside because you have got wind chill," said Shasfort.