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From: "John Chluski" <undersea@ga*.ne*>
To: "Cost effective home improvement" <freeattic@co*.ci*.uf*.ed*>
Cc: "Tom Forman" <tforman@in*.ne*>,
     "Peter R. Schulz" ,
     "Mark Gerrard" ,
     "Julie Kaye" ,
Subject: Re: NC Diver lost
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 16:48:18 +0100
For some there is much to be learned/rehashed from the incident, but I will
with the basic facts...

At approximately 1:30pm on August 22, after concluding a 25 minute dive on
the USS Monitor off of the 73' R/V Cape Fear, we were returning to Hatteras
Inlet which is a 2-2.5 hour run from the site.  The weather was very good,
warm and sunny, light breeze and seas running less than two feet.  Surface
water temp was 83F.15 minutes into our run back
we picked up a distress call from the Gunsmoke indicating that a solo diver
had been missing for more than one hour from the wreck of the Abrams which
lies at 80-90'.  The wreck is about 3-4 miles offshore and south of Hatteras
Inlet.  The Gunsmoke was tied into the wreck and they were waiting for their
second rescue/recovery team to return to the boat and were going to launch a
third team.  Upon receiving the distress call we proceeded at best possible
speed (relatively slow, <10kts) we were still a little less than an hour
from their location.  The Coast Guard had also dispatched a patrol boat and
a helicopter was also to be dispatched but was unable to do so immediately.
From the intial reports it sounded very much like a recovery and not a
rescue was in order.  We had two surface support personnel who were prepared
to conduct a recovery using scooters downstream of the wreck.

Another 15 minutes after receiving the initial distress call from the
Gunsmoke we received another mayday from a 21' center cockpit boat that was
taking on water with three people on board.  As the initial reports
indicated that situation aboard the Gunsmoke indicated a recovery was in
progress and not a rescue, we decided to go after the boat first and
slightly altered course to intercept the boat in distress.  The Coast Guard
patrol boat also made the same decision.  Conviently the boat in distress
was located about halfway between our location and the location of the
Gunsmoke.  Fortunately the boat had a working GPS and we were able to locate
them within 30 minutes, shortly after they had lost all power and were dead
in the water.  The flares that they had on board were completely useless as
an aid in the rescue.  Although the boat was wallowing badly in the water
with water coming over the transom and sides of the vessel, it was unlikely
that it would sink completely as these types of boats have enough inherent
flotation that a complete sinking would be unlikely for a few days in good
weather.  However, the three men aboard the boat were not exactly interested
in testing this theory.  The Coast Guard patrol boat showed up at the
location within 5 minutes of the rescue, but we proceeded without stopping
to transfer our new passengers for the Gunsmoke.

Shortly after rescuing the fishermen from the boat another report from the
Gunsmoke indicated that they thought they saw something in the water 2 miles
down current of the wreck.  We then proceeded at best possible speed to a
location slightly downstream of the Gunsmoke in the hopes of finding their
diver on the surface.  We figured it was more likely less than half a mile
since it is difficult finding even a yellow lift bag from more than a few
hundred yards at best.  The Coast Guard patrol boat made better speed
towards the location of the possible object floating in the water and
started conducting a search pattern.  From our experience that day on the
Monitor we decided that the light current would not have carried the diver
quite as far as where the Coast Guard was searching, and certainly not two
miles downstream. We intiated a search closer to the Gunsmoke which was
still tied into the wreck waiting for their third recovery team to return.

Shortly after intiating our search we found a very lucky diver floating on
the surface without any signalling device whatsoever aside from a small
light.  We were less than 150 yards away when we saw him.  Although
exhausted and very shaken, the diver was in good shape and learned first
hand about the importance of carrying and using appropriate signalling
devices and just possibly something about conducting wreck dives from a boat
that is tied into the wreck without a chase boat.  The Coast Guard
helicopter arrived on scene as we were departing the location toward
Hatteras Inlet.  Although all other boats returned to dock before us, we got
the goods.

After discussing what had happened with the diver this is what went down.
The diver and his buddy were on a granny line moving towards the down line
when the diver's buddy dropped his light (rescued divers light) and he
dropped down to chase his light.  His buddy probably figured the light
wasn't worth it and proceeded with the wreck dive.  He also may have been
unaware of the event.  After recovering the light on the bottom, the diver
proceeded for 5 minutes on the bottom towards the wreck.  When he did not
see the wreck after 5 minutes he surfaced after a 5 minute safety stop to
discover that he was down current of the Gunsmoke by a few hundred yards.
He was unable to return to the boat by swimming on the surface.  I am not
sure if he tried to signal to his dive boat or not, but he took a compass
bearing and then went back down to the bottom and swam 10 minutes on the
compass bearing he took.  Still he did not encounter the wreck and again
surfaced with yet another 5 minute safety stop and surprise, surprise, he
was now more than a few hundred yards away.  He then floated on the surface,
spending some quality time (about 2.5 hours) enjoying the fine weather and
sea air while thinking about his family and kids, sharks, whether the light
was worth his life and comtemplating the chances of being recued....   The
recreational diver had been certified about seven years and was on air.
Level of certification or exprience level is unknown to me.  However, he
does seem to take his safety stops quite seriously...

Anyway, quite a day for all involved!  I'll leave the lessons to be learned
from this to others as an elaboration would probably involve several more
paragraphs and could also probably be summed up by rule #1.

Regards, John

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Landon <surlynkid@ea*.ne*>
To: Cost effective home improvement <freeattic@co*.ci*.uf*.ed*>
Date: Monday, August 23, 1999 11:04 PM
Subject: Re: NC Diver lost

>wait, was he a diabetic?  or was it just natural causes?  or was it deep
>or was it poorly marked cylinders?
>kirvine@sa*.ne* wrote:
>> Alex Varouxis wrote:
>> >
>> > A diver was lost Today Sunday the 22 on the Gun Smoke out of Natteras
>> > Details are still un clear.
>>  I bet I can guess every last little one of them.
>> --- Freeattic list subscriptions/removals should be sent to
>> --- sallot@mi*.co*.
>--- Freeattic list subscriptions/removals should be sent to
>--- sallot@mi*.co*.

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