Archive for 08/25/2011

Maritime Journal –

Portsmouth based explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialist Ramora UK has safely disposed of an unexploded World War II mine at one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms.

The four man Ramora UK team used an ROV to place a countermining charge next to the 680kg mine, which had been assessed as high risk due to damage previously sustained by it. Throughout the procedure a 1,500m safety zone was maintained to protect other vessels in the area. A controlled explosion was then initiated from a safe distance, leaving an underwater crater 20m wide by 4m deep.

The German, ship-laid ground mine was detected in 35m of water some 33km off Harwich in eastern England, on the site of the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm which will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm when it is completed next year.

Ramora UK was contracted by the prime contractor on the project, Fluor, which had first called in the company for another mine found at the site in 2009. Ramora UK used elements of the REODS suite of equipment to dispose of the mines.

REODS reduces the human and commercial risks of EOD by removing the need for a diver. It is kept on 24/7 standby, is fully mobile, and can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world transported in a 10ft container. If necessary it can move UXO to a safe location for disposal and it has already been used to dispose of many similar items.

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Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud –

The DPD is a battery-powered vehicle capable of carrying two divers and their gear while submersed out of sight.

“The (DPD) is the Marine Reconnaissance’s miniature submarine, if you will,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Donald R. Miner, medical deep sea diver, 3rd Recon. Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It allows them to transit long distances using minimal amounts of energy and O2 on their diving rigs.”

According to Miner, the training consisted of a series of submerged movements between checkpoints marked by large buoys, designed to improve the divers’ underwater navigation skills as well as familiarize them with the DPD.

The Marines first had to complete dive training to be eligible for the follow-up DPD training. 

“They qualify Marine combat divers at dive school and come out here, and we sustain them and grow them as diving supervisors and DPD pilots,” said Miner.

“The course is roughly seven days long start to finish and includes night dives. Once they are qualified on the DPD, they will get together as platoons and do sustainment training, which would basically be a navigation dive like this or a (simulated mission),” Miner added.

During combat operations, the Marines use the device for covert insertions onto beaches and shorelines.

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Cammy Clark –

Divers who venture 100 feet below the ocean’s surface to explore the USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg , Key West’s behemoth 523-foot shipwreck never know what they will see. Perhaps colorful parrotfish, curious barracuda and for the fortunate, a 300-pound goliath grouper hiding in a dark room.

But California tourist Jon Mann never expected this sight: two men kickboxing under the missile-tracking radar dish.

“It was very surreal, kind of strange at first,” Mann said after a recent dive trip to the Vandenberg, the second largest ship in the world to be intentionally sunk as an artificial reef.

 The kickboxers are featured in one of 12 digitally composed photographs displayed in a temporary underwater exhibit by Austrian artist Andreas Franke. It’s called: Vandenberg: Life Below the Surface.

The images are encased between sheets of Plexiglas with a stainless steel frame. A silicone seal keeps out the water. They hang along a 200-foot stretch of the steel ship’s weather deck, attached by strong magnets on the starboard side.

Southpoint Divers boat captain “Tropical Mike” Hall said his favorite picture is the guy with unruly hair sitting in a wheelchair wearing a straitjacket.

“It’s a little bit creepy, a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest type thing,” Hall said. “But I thought it was a bit interesting. It’s unique, and you can tell the artist had a sense of humor in choosing the things he did.”

Last year Franke photographed the Vandenberg, which had been used to transport World War II troops, bring refugees to freedom, spy on Russians during the Cold War and serve as the set of the sci-fi thriller, The Virus. The decommissioned military ship was sunk 61/2 miles off the shore of Key West in 2009.

Franke was intrigued with its intricate architecture, but despite all the fish and other marine critters, he thought his pictures lacked life. He returned to his commercial art studio in Vienna and had an idea on how to bring more activity to his moody images. He photographed a variety of people doing a variety of things: hanging laundry, riding exercise bikes, buying movie tickets.

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Michael C. Bolton – 

As I watched the ghastly photos and videos of the unfolding Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year, I told anyone who would listen that the Gulf of Mexico would never recover in our lifetimes.

I assumed that there would never again be fishing as we know it. I also assumed that the rich bounty that the Gulf produces would not be edible for decades.

Some scientist I am, huh ?

There is more and more evidence that Mother Nature is a dang good cleaning lady. The recovery of the Gulf of Mexico has been nothing less than dramatic.

The recent Alabama Deep Sea Rodeo provided the opportunity for many different species of fish to be tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had a team of researchers and scientists on hand at the rodeo to collect tissue samples from the fish that were caught all the way from Florida to Louisiana waters.

The group was looking for the bad stuff such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons that cause all kinds of problems including being carcinogenic in some cases. The group also looked for any chemicals found in the dispersant sprayed on the oil slicks.

The group conducted tests of 942 tissue samples during and after the rodeo. The group stayed on Dauphin Island following the rodeo and tested oyster and shrimp, too.

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Tammy Webber –

The city was in a predicament. By the late 1800s, the slow-moving Chicago River had become a cesspool of sewage and factory pollution oozing into Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for the bustling metropolis.

The waterway had grown so putrid that it raised fears of a disease outbreak and concerns about hurting development. So in a first-of-its-kind feat, engineers reversed the river by digging a series of canals that not only carried the stinking mess away from the lake, but also created the only shipping route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

Now a modern threat _ a voracious fish that biologists are desperate to keep out of Lake Michigan _ has spurred serious talk of undertaking another engineering feat almost as bold as the original: reversing the river again to restore its flow into the lake.

The Army Corps of Engineers is studying ways to stop invasive species from moving between two of the nation’s largest watersheds, including a proposal to block the canals and undo the engineering marvel that helped define Chicago.

After the first reversal, the city at the edge of the prairie blossomed and today is known for stunning skyscrapers, a sparkling lakefront and a river dyed green every St. Patrick’s Day in the heart of Chicago’s downtown Loop.

The idea to reverse the river again got little traction when environmentalists suggested it a few years ago. But that was before Asian carp swam to within 25 miles of Lake Michigan, where they are being held at bay with electric barriers that deliver a nonlethal jolt. And it was before a study that showed dozens of other species were poised to move between the basins.

Adding to the urgency is the discovery last month of more carp DNA, though no actual carp, in waterways just six miles from Chicago, which could indicate that some slipped through the barriers. One live carp was found past the barrier last summer, but officials weren’t sure how it got there.

The fish are rapacious eaters that can grow to 4 feet and 100 pounds, and they have been migrating up the Mississippi and its tributaries for decades. Scientists say they could decimate the Great Lakes’ $7 billion-a-year fishing industry and unravel the food web by starving out native species.

Tony Stickley –

Divers exploring the Mt Hypipamee crater near Herberton have debunked two “facts” about The Crater – it is not as deep as previously thought and there is no evidence of a tunnel linking it to the nearby Barron River.

Mt Hypipamee was formed when a gas explosion blasted half a million tonnes of basalt into the air leaving a crater 60m wide with sheer walls going down 60m to the water.

A 1959 survey claimed the water was 81m deep.

Signs and a map at the site also show an underwater tunnel heading down and towards the Barron River.

However, a group of nine divers from around Australia and from all walks of life, who spent this week exploring the crater to carry out scientific tests for the Museum of Australia, have proved both those claims to be false.

They included brothers Joel and Samuel Vermey, both electricians from Cairns.

Richard Harris, a 46-year-old anaesthetist and diving medicine specialist from Adelaide, said the maximum depth they had found was 75m.

As for the tunnel, he said visibility was only 2.5m so they could not be 100 per cent sure but: “After a careful search at the bottom we could find no evidence of a tunnel going anywhere.”

“Certainly there does not appear to be any major side passageways.”

Full story…