Phase II – August 17

Waiting for the divers to surface from the dive

Experts confirmed the artifact as a deck light

Divers reboard the R/V Cape Fear after the dive

Getting Into The Swing Of Things

August 17, 1999 – The weather was absolutely superb, however, the current was about 1 to 2 knots throughout the water column and visibility was reduced to about 15 feet on the bottom. The team assignments for today were:

  • Captain, R/V Cape Fear – Dan Aspenleiter
  • Principle Investigator – Dr. John Broadwater
  • NOAA Historian – Jeff Johnston
  • Diving Safety Officer – Dave Dinsmore
  • Dive Supervisor – Cindy Creamer
  • Diving Medical Officer (DMO) – Michael Ott
  • Dive Medical Technician (DMT)/On deck Standby Diver – Chris Cote
  • Chase Boat Operator – Mike Smith
  • Chamber Operator/Chase Boat Support Diver – Doug Kesling
  • In-water Support Diver (deep) – Michael Ott
  • In-water Support Diver (shallow) – Terrence Tysall
  • Research Diver – Kyle Creamer
  • Research Diver – Chad Roberts
  • Research Diver – Ken Johns

The objectives for today were to recover the medallion that was located off the wreck yesterday, to relocate some equipment on the bottom, to obtain measurements from the artifact (deck light) to several known datum points for trilateration and to finish assembling the dredge and to begin dredging the pit outside the turret to determine if the rifle shield is there and intact.

The current on the bottom was stirring up the sand and the visibility was reduced to about 15 feet. The team staged their decompression cylinders at the downline and headed over to the starboard side of the wreck. They recovered the medallion (it is a relatively new item, not from the Monitor), and the equipment was moved to just in front of the amidship’s bulkhead. They then made measurements from the artifact to three known points. Jeff Johnston, the NOAA historian, has used this data and determined that it is definitely a deck light. Another bit of interesting data from this is that the deck has dropped to the sand and left a hole at this location (This was not evident before finding this deck light). The team completed its dive by starting the final assembly of the dredge. However, they did not have time to attempt any dredging.

The dive was a 30 minute bottom time, and the total in-water time was 146 minutes. They were met on the downline by the deep support diver at 120 fsw, their first decompression stop. The tables for these dives are the NOAA approved tables generated by Dr. Bill Hamilton using his DECAP decompression model. The tables and our dives are based on utilizing trimix 18/50 from the surface to 110 fsw, EAN36 from 110 fsw to 20 fsw and oxygen for the 20 and 10 foot stops. The support divers also carry EAN36 and oxygen in case a diver has a problem with a cylinder and stay in the water during the entire decompression and observe the bottom divers for any signs of decompression illness or oxygen toxicity.

After surfacing, the divers wait by the drift float ball until Dan Aspenleiter, the captain of the R/V Cape Fear, motors near the divers and they are motioned to swim to the platform. They hand up their stage cylinders to personnel on deck before exiting the water. This helps to avoid post dive exertion for the divers.

Once again, our day concluded with our standard post-dive debriefing, held during the boat ride back to shore, and cylinders were trucked over to the Coast Gaurd Station and filled for tomorrow’s dive once we arrived back.

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