Joseph E. Farrell, Jr., co-founder of Mission Resolve Foundation, is also the founder of Resolve Marine Group and has been at the helm for 36 years, guiding the organization through tremendous growth. Resolve Marine Group has become a leading global marine services provider that specializes in vessel emergency response, ship rescue, salvage, maritime training, naval architecture, marine engineering and related maritime environmental enhancement issues.
At the age of 12, Joe Farrell’s family moved from the inner city environment of Boston to a working class coastal community just outside the city, setting his course in life. Consequently he has been working in, under and on the Oceans of the World for 56 years. Joe began his 4-year military career in the US Coast Guard as a ship’s engineman. He was then assigned to a US Coast Guard Icebreaker. He also passed a grueling US Navy diving school program to become a diver. The dive team was required to do numerous frigid water ship and propeller inspections while in the Arctic. To warm things up, Joe volunteered and became a US Coast Guard Explosives advisor in Vietnam.
As an explosives advisor as well as a civilian diver at the US Navy’s AUTEC base on Andros Island, Bahamas, Joe learned to face high-stakes challenges. Joe spent four years recovering war game and test fired torpedoes in this position. He jumped out of helicopters at 10 feet and 10 knots forward speed in full scuba gear. He’d then put aluminum straps around the floating torpedoes and connected them to the bottom of helicopter. The divers were recovered with one leg through a horse collar and an arm around the connected winched cable and brought back aboard the helicopter approximately 40 feet above. As many as 8 torpedoes could be recovered in a day.
After his time as a civilian diver, Joe became the Chief Engineer of a large Dutch-built oceangoing salvage tugboat. After a few years aboard Joe developed and secured two salvage jobs which allowed him the funds to purchase the tug. Joe then renamed the tug the RESOLVE after he resolved what to do in life. This marked the inception of Resolve Marine Group. Since then, by undertaking scores of significantly risky projects, Joe along with his incredible team have grown the one-tug operation to a global leader and one of the most recognized salvage companies in the world.
Resolve Marine Group now operates globally and maintains strategically positioned personnel and assets throughout the world. This includes highly experienced salvage personnel, equipment warehouses, offices, salvage vessels and tugs. Resolve has these resources and operations in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Gibraltar, China, South Africa and India. In the United States alone, Resolve Marine Group operates and manages depots in 23 port cities and offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and Anchorage, Alaska. The company is continuously involved in high profile salvage and wreck removal jobs as well as emergency responses. As Joe now says, the sun never sets on Resolve. No mater where in the world, Resolve will have an ongoing operation. A few examples include overseeing the large-scale and complex wreck removal of the containership M/V RENA in New Zealand, the raising of a destroyed and fully armed Indian Navy submarine and a massive, six-month oil spill response operation for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico which entailed working in 5 states with approximately 1,000 people and 120 vessels with many of these owned by Resolve. Resolve Marine Group also served as the contractor recovering the ValuJet aircraft, which crashed in the Florida Everglades. In the summer of 2016, Resolve made the heaviest dead lift in the Americas by raising a sunken 1,000 ton lift capacity crane barge which weighed 6,500 tons. In 2019 Resolve used explosives to drop a section of the Tappan Zee bridge, which experienced a critical structural failure during dismantling. Resolve then raised this 4,000 ton roadway to be placed on a submersible barge for recycling. Another first was accomplished soon after the Tappan Zee bridge job when Resolve recovered 450,000 gallons of oil which was trapped in a WWII sank oil tanker 30 miles off the coast of Long Island, NY.
Joe’s passion is giving back to the environment that has allowed him to not only survive but flourish. When his 350 ft long salvage barge sank in a vicious storm off Cape Canaveral, the equipment and financial loss literally put him in row boat with a small outboard tying up ships to a buoy in Port Everglades, Ft Lauderdale, Florida. A year and a half later he returned to the site of his sunken barge called Madaket which was in 80 feet of water 15 miles off the coast. He was in awe of the numbers and diversity of fish in and around this wreck. It was especially mind numbing since there was only a flat sand bottom for 15 miles in either direction. He then vowed to make this one of Resolve’s signature environmental legacies. Consequently, Resolve has sunk more vessels for artificial reefs than any other company in the world. This includes sinking the largest artificial reef with the Navy, the 960 ft, 26,000 ton ex USS Oriskany off Pensacola, Florida.
Joe was disheartened every time he responded to a grounded ship that had been driven ashore on coral reef as the ships would crush and knock the coral loose. He decided to explore how he could mitigate these environmental calamities. He applied for and was granted a license from the State of Florida to remove the broken coral left after a ship grounding. At his own expense, he made arrangements with the University of Miami to take these coral fragments and grow them in their tanks. Resolve then took these corals back offshore and attained growth rates of 13 inches in 1 year. His point was well taken and a number of Universities are now following his pioneering efforts.
Another initiative that Joe will be undertaking comes from his experiences with casualty ships on sand leeward shores. On certain sand shorelines this project will minimize, stop and in some cases reverse erosion. A more recent initiative for Joe is through the Mission Resolve Foundation, using the HERV LANA ROSE to recover plastics from the oceans. The common thread in all of these endeavors is to give back to the very oceans that have made him and Resolve Marine Group what they have become today. As Joe says, he can’t do it alone but as a team, everything is possible.