A few days ago I had the chance to Join Rick Simon once again on one of his commercial diving operations. He had been hired to help the United States Naval Research Lab with their operations (don’t worry this is all declassified information). The Navy is interested in being able to identify unexploded ordinances on the seafloor. These could be remnants of mines, unexploded shells that sank to the bottom, or other military debris that could be dangerous. To practice finding these ordinances, Rick helped them place down a number of objects on the ocean bottom connected by a long line. These ranged from deactivated howitzer and mortar shells, to scuba tanks and buckets. With the help of a UAV that explores the sea bottom for these objects, the Navy hopes to be able to find these and tell what’s dangerous and what isn’t.
The day I went out, our job was to pick these object up. They had been put out many months ago, and the Navy had already practiced finding them. To collect them, Rick went down and found the 500 pound block of concrete that was at one end of the line. He then followed the line down, marking how far into the mud all of the ordinances were, and noting their orientation, helping the Navy collect useful data to compare with what their UAV saw. Once he got to the end, he brought the line up to the surface. We then hauled all the objects up with the boat’s crane. It was extremely interesting to see how the commercial diving operation worked, and to see all the gear Rick and his dive buddy were using. Both of them had underwater scooters and pony bottles to allow them to work quickly and safely.