Favorable weather conditions allowed multiple teams from the Cambrian Foundation to reach the wreck of the USS Monitor, today, Tuesday, July 27, 1999. Yesterday’s strong current subsided somewhat; seas were calm and skies were sunny. Four teams of bottom divers and one team of support divers were assembled to complete the day’s research requirements. Former US Navy diver, Chad Roberts, successfully lead team 1 in beginning the placement of markers at 10 foot intervals along the Monitor’s port side armor belt. Assisting Chad were team members Richard Harless, Cyndi Blanchard and Ray Blanchard. Team 1 also located a number of the datum point markers placed on previous expeditions that are used in assessing deterioration of the wreck.
Team 2, consisting of Mike St. Germain and Andrew Donn, located and recorded the identity of several datum point markers from the stern of the ship to the amidships bulkhead. Andrew Donn also captured good video of the port side armor belt, bottom of the wreck, and the propellor shaft. Bill Kikta, Shawn Douthat, and John Scruggs of Team 3 attempted to locate datum point markers from the amidships bulkhead to the tip of the bow. However, one of their team members experienced equipment problems and they scrubbed the dive after 10 minutes.
Kyle Creamer and Terrence Tysall made up Team 4, the video team. They first rigged a light diffuser on a cave diving canister light for use with a digital underwater video camera. Kyle acted as a photon diver, a diver that carries a light for the videographer. They filmed behind the ship’s gun turret, under the hull, through the engine room and through the galley. Their video also revealed the location of some datum point markers and will be used by engineers to plan future restoration and salvage operations on the Monitor. The support team consisted of Joachim Pleil and Tony Bielawski, who assisted bottom divers during their decompression stops and assured smooth, safe procedures. Joachim also continued his research on his oxidative stress study.
The research team capped off the day with a bountiful group dinner prepared by Cindy Creamer with assistance from Carla Scruggs. The team also viewed the video that was produced today by Terrence and Andrew. The evening ended with an award presentation – the Cambrian Foundation’s first annual presentation of the Giant Stride Award.