Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good and Bad Diving News

The Good News:

WWII-era ship becomes sunken reef off Key West
KEY WEST, Fla. – A ship last used by the U.S. Air Force to track missiles and spacecraft has been sunk in the Florida Keys, creating a new artificial reef for sport divers and anglers.

The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg sank in less than two minutes Wednesday morning, after demolition experts triggered a series of explosives that lined the both sides of the ship.

Key West City Manager Jim Scholl says he believes the 17,000-ton, 523-foot-long ship settled on the bottom of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in an upright position, but he was waiting for confirmation from divers.

The ship was first built as a cargo ship in World War II. Officials in the Florida Keys expect it to generate up to $8 million in tourism-related revenue, mostly from divers and related businesses.

. . . . .
This should provide some very exciting wreck diving with both the Spiegel Grove and Vandenberg in the Keys Sanctuary along with many other wrecks puts the Florida Keys even higher on the list of must-dive sites.

The Bad and Quite Sad News:

Diver dies exploring wreckage of ship off Greece (hat tip to Lagniappe's Keeper for pointing this out to me)

A member of a National Geographic team exploring the wreckage of Britannic, the Titanic's sister ship, in the Aegean Sea died of decompression sickness Sunday, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. Carl Spencer, 37, was rushed to the Athens Naval Hospital in the afternoon after diving to film the wreckage of the Britannic, four miles (6 kilometers) off the island of Kea, southeast of Athens, the ministry said.
The Britannic was the sister ship to the Titanic, sunk during World War One off of Greece (the third of the sisters, Olympic, survived in passenger service through 1935 being broken up and scrapped in 1937.)

The Britannic sank in 400 feet of water, which makes any dive on it a serious expedition-level dive and you need to be amongst the best divers to try it.

There is little information on the incident and there is an unconfirmed possibility that he was on an Inspiration closede-circuit rebreather and possibly suffered oxygen toxicity at depth:
Despite his experience, witnesses said that Mr Spencer suffered convulsions while filming the bow of Britannic on Sunday and headed rapidly for the surface, missing decompression stops.

It is very sad as he was a very well-respected and accomplished diver, and for someone of that level to get killed while diving is quite sobering indeed.

1 comment:

Rosemary E Lunn said...

Tragic diver, Carl Spencer to be honoured by New York based Explorers Club

In a statement issued yesterday the Explorers Club, of which Mr Spencer was a respected and enthusiastic member, confirmed that he is to be formally recognised for his lifetime achievements. It reads;

"Carl Spencer was a highly regarded member of The Explorers Club, an international society of professional explorers founded in 1904 and based in New York City. The Club's members have been responsible for an illustrious series of famous firsts – first to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, first to the surface of the Moon – often carrying one of 202 specially numbered Club flags, each with its own unique history. As recognition for his significant accomplishments as an explorer and the extreme difficulty of his expedition, Carl had been awarded the privilege of carrying The Explorers Club Flag to the Britannic. Now the Club is considering an appropriate way to permanently pay tribute to Carl’s outstanding achievements and his substantial contributions to exploration".

In a later statement it was confirmed that flag number #68, which began its career in 1937 and has twice voyaged aboard the Space Shuttle, traveled with Carl and his team to HMHS Britannic and will now be retired permanently and enshrined in his name at the Explorer’s Club headquarters in New York. A fitting tribute to a genuinely world-class explorer.