For some there is much to be learned/rehashed from the incident, but I will start 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 air? >or was it poorly marked cylinders? > >scott > >kirvine@sa*.ne* wrote: > >> Alex Varouxis wrote: >> > >> > A diver was lost Today Sunday the 22 on the Gun Smoke out of Natteras NC. >> > 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*. > -- Send mail for the `techdiver' mailing list to `firstname.lastname@example.org'. Send subscribe/unsubscribe requests to `email@example.com'.
Navigate by Author:
[Author Search Index]
Navigate by Subject: [Previous] [Next] [Subject Search Index]
[Send Reply] [Send Message with New Topic]
[Search Selection] [Mailing List Home] [Home]