Michael J. Manyak, MD, was contacted to provide medical services through Adventure Care, Inc., for the RMS Titanic salvage expedition 2000. Adventure Care, Inc., provides various medical and travel-related services for people traveling to remote locations where access to medical care is limited or nonexistent. Previous Titanic salvage expeditions had very rudimentary medical coverage for adverse events and no travel evacuation insurance. Adventure Care, Inc., arranged for evacuation insurance for approximately 45 of the expedition members, provided comprehensive medical supplies sufficient to stabilize nearly all emergencies, prepared the operations for the possibility of an adverse event that required evacuation, and arranged for qualified medical personnel to be present on site throughout the expedition.
The medical team was chosen because of their various experiences and availability for the expedition. The medical team members included Dr. Grainger Lanneau, an OB-GYN physician from Bethesda Naval Medical Center who had served as a US Army Ranger and medical officer on a nuclear submarine; Dr. Christian Macedonia, a Major in the US Army and Assistant Professor of OB-GYN at the Uniformed Services University for Health Sciences (USUHS) who has had extensive experience in remote locations; Stephanie Tucker, a 4th year medical student at The George Washington University School of Medicine and an emergency medical technician who had spent time at sea; and Dr. Michael Manyak, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Urology at The George Washington University Medical Center who has had a long interest in expedition medicine.
In addition to providing medical coverage, the team members were selected for their interest in other scientific endeavors and the potential to add to the scientific body of knowledge about the deepwater environment. Drs. Macedonia and Manyak have a long interest in advanced imaging technology and desired to test the feasibility of using existing advanced technology to create three dimensional anatomic information about the oceanic species, explore the possibility of using the ROVs and submersibles to gain in situ images of oceanic species, test the ability to transmit that information electronically, and explore the feasibility of obtaining tissue specimens from oceanic species for genetic profiles.
Because Drs. Manyak and Macedonia are also Fellows of the Explorers Club (EC), an application to carry an EC flag was submitted and approved. EC Flag #200, which has an illustrious history of being carried to both poles and to tropical areas on expeditions, was granted for this expedition. Because of the unique opportunity for scientific research, other scientific organizations and personnel were approached to determine their interest in participation. US Air Force Colonel Donald Morley, another EC Fellow and the Chief Engineer for the Fighter/Trainer Division of the Air Logistics Center in San Antonio, Texas joined the expedition to perform bidirectional imaging and data transmission tests.
The Explorers Club was well represented on the RMS Titanic 2000 expedition. In addition to Dr. Manyak, Dr. Macedonia, and Col. Morley, there were at least 5 other EC members, including Anatoly Sagalevich, David Concannon, Ralph White, Valerie Moore, James Sinclair. All made contributions to the success of the scientific or salvage components of the expedition.
Other groups interested in this unique research venue included NASA and Motorola, Inc. NASA decided that there was not enough time to arrange for testing of their equipment but remained highly interested because of their desire for a manned space flight to Mars within 5 years and the need to probe bodies of water in that locale. Dr. Manyak was able to arrange for Motorola to provide surface communications that proved to be very useful for daily intraship coordination and for intership coordination of the artifact transfer operation. Both NASA and Motorola remain very interested in future collaborations on return expeditions to the Titanic site. Furthermore, several companies which were contacted but unable to organize participation because of the short notice are very interested in the possibility of being included in future operations.
Scientific Experiment #1
Blue Light Data Transmission Feasibility Study
Reliable communication is difficult in poorly accessible locations such as in cave passages filled with water and in underwater environments. Radio frequency communication is generally not feasible in these circumstances because water is opaque to most radio frequencies. Transmission with radio frequencies can be performed with cable or fiberoptic attachments but this is not practical in aqueous environments where changes of direction occur within closed passages. Therefore, there is a need to develop a reliable means of communication to transmit information and to apply this to provide a safer environment.
Light from standard white light sources is highly absorbed by water especially in aqueous biological environments. However, the absorption coefficient of these media is significantly lower for blue-green frequencies and results in a much longer range when these light sources are used. Currently, the most cost effective method of providing blue-green light is derived from a light emitting diode (LED). When combined in a fixed array, these inexpensive light sources provide sufficient amplitude for transmission in aqueous environments.
Colonel Donald Morley devised an experiment to test this hypothesis based on a personal communication that blue-green light could be used for transmission for short distances near the surface of water. The experiment consisted of transmission of 470 nm light from multiple blue LEDs through a viewing port in a submersible vehicle at a depth of 3850 meters. The LED source was modulated at 37 KHz to allow use of standard infrared (IR) remote control circuits with substitution of the blue LEDs for the IR source. This modulation also assured that the light detected originated from the LEDs and not from an unknown source. We considered the differences in biologic matter between surface and deep ocean and their differential effects on light absorption; however, the ocean at this depth was in fact teeming with a broad variety of organisms similar in size and quantity to surface material.
Multiple reflectors were used to create an optical path from the capsule through the ocean and back into the capsule to determine light transmissibility. The reflectors consisted of a 13 cm diameter polycarbonate plastic disc with fine etched lines that acted as a diffractive mirror, a 10 cm by 5 cm rectangular matrix of small corner reflectors imbedded in polycarbonate plastic, and a 5 cm by 2.5 cm rectangular flexible plastic film with a large number of imbedded corner reflectors. The reflectors were mounted on an articulating robotic arm that could be positioned to maximize surface area for reflectance, as well as vary the distance from the transmission source. The optical path passed through a 20 cm-thick clear acrylic window both before and after reflection before reaching the receiver. The reflected light was detected by a tuned phototransistor circuit placed at another port. After detection by the phototransistor circuit, an oscilloscope both measured and visually verified the frequency and amplitude of the modulated light.
All reflectors remained intact at 3850 m depth with a pressure of 5660 pounds per square inch (psi). The amount of reflection varied with the composition of the reflector. No signal was detected from the matrix of small corner reflectors imbedded in polycarbonate plastic. Blue light was detected from both the lined diffractive polycarbonate plastic mirror and the flexible plastic film with imbedded corner reflectors. The reflection from the circular diffractive mirror was judged to be significantly brighter.
The failure of the polycarbonate plastic matrix of small reflectors may have been due to its relatively small surface area though the smaller rectangular flexible plastic film did reflect light. It is possible that the position of the detection system also contributed to the inability to detect reflection since this device is designed to be a retroreflector. Consequently, the phototransistor circuit may not have captured light that was actually reflected by those reflectors. The brightest reflection was obtained from the circular surface area of the disc which acted like a mirror rather than a retroreflector. An unplanned observation of broad spectrum white light emanating from the test submersible by its counterpart determined that this light provided a strong blue tint. This suggests that the shorter wavelength blue component of the white light spectrum is more readily transmitted.
This study demonstrated that 470 nm light is readily transmitted in the aqueous biological environment of extreme ocean depths, and is not impeded by an acrylic compound representative of standard viewing ports. The brightness of reflection appears dependent on selection of reflective materials and surface area of the reflective surface. This study suggests that blue light transmission can be used for cost effective communication, data transmission, and possibly video transmission at useful distances.
Cross-disciplinary applications are suggested for this wavelength of light in an aqueous environment. The potential to significantly increase optical communication within a non-linear closed environment such as cave diving or evaluation of shipwrecks is truly feasible. This would eliminate dependence on fiberoptic cables and other attachments that are prone to damage. An increased safety factor is also provided by this type of technology in these hostile environments. Many wireless technologies could now be converted to blue light for transmission in environments where those radio frequency or infrared transmissions are not effective currently. Moreover, combinations of these technologies could be expected to significantly enhance the dependability of such communication.
Scientific Experiment #2
Cross-disciplinary Non-invasive Imaging
Expeditioneering by definition places individuals in remote and often hostile environments. Geostationary satellites, advances in microchip computer technology, and miniaturization of medical and communication technologies have led to a revolution in telediagnostics which are applicable to the needs of an expedition. In addition to increasing the ability to diagnose medical conditions which place an individual at risk, these technological advances provide a venue for transmission of data from the field and have offered new opportunities for novel applications in those environments.
At the request of the RMS Titanic, Inc., we assembled a technological package specifically designed to support field operations in one of the most treacherous oceanic sites on earth. Technologies selected for inclusion on this expedition were a laptop computer with IEEE 1394 adaptation, digital still cameras, digital video cameras, a portable doppler ultrasound system, and INMARSAT telecommunication. This system provided data transfer capabilities in addition to support for the medical communication that would be imperative in case of an adverse event.
Laptop computers have been an important component of scientific expeditions for the past decade. Recently, a new class of computers have been equipped with an IEEE 1394 (Firewire) port allowing for heretofore unmatched capabilities in digital image manipulation. We used two IEEE 1396 capable computers extensively to download and edit digital still camera and live digital video images at extraordinarily high resolution.
We used a high resolution digital still camera for medical documentation as well as for expedition archives. Flash memory and ATA cards were used for image transfer. Having this capability provided our expedition with the means to report our progess daily to the Explorers Club and to receive consultation for medical problems with a significant visual component, such as in dermatologic conditions.
Digital video (DV) was used extensively by the science team. A DV camera was used to record medical ultrasonography in sick bay on the AM Keldysh. Still images were taken from the DV tapes, transfered, and compressed into JPEG format using the IEEE 1394 port and commercially available digital editing software. The DV cameras could be controlled directly by the computer using the IEEE protocol. DV was also used as a videographic record of the scientific experiments performed on the MIR submersibles.
Medical ultrasonography was applied to conventional and unconventional problems. The machine was used to diagnose a variety of medical conditions of crew members. DV equipment was employed to capture images for telediagnostic tests over satellite systems.
We also applied sonography to two entirely new fields. Diagnostic sonography was used to survey artifacts that were very fragile before the preparation process for restoration. In one graphic use of sonography in oceanic archaeology, preliminary identification of several instruments within a leather pouch suggested that the valise was most likely from the ship’s physician. Noninvasive imaging prevented potential undesirable damage to the pouch incurred by opening. This technique may prove to be very useful for broader applications of identification of submerged artifacts.
In conjunction with the Russian icthyologists from the Shirtsov Institute of Science, sonography was applied to the three-dimensional anatomic reconstruction of bioluminescent fish retrieved from a depth of 200 meters. A 40 mm aperture in a linear transducer was used to scan the fish at 7.5 MHz with a 3 cm beam through a water path. The active probe was attached to the linear translation device providing images in the z-axis. The rate of image acquisition was 1.0 cm per second and the refresh rate was 30 frames per second. The video from the ultrasound apparatus was recorded onto a DV cassette. The quality of the image capture suggests that a future application of this micro-sidescan sonar could involve in situ three-dimensional anatomic reconstruction of deep ocean life from submersible or remote operated vehicles. This would preserve actual anatomic data that would not be perturbed by pressure changes incurred when deep ocean life is brought to the surface.
We made use of two different satellite communications systems off the deckplates of the Keldysh and the SV Explorer including digital image transmission and voice commmunications. These systems used the standard 2400 kbps mini-M phone technology and the new digital 64 kbps Global Area Network (GAN).
In summary, the biomedical science team of the Explorers Club made important new discoveries which have extended the reach of medical science support in remote and austere environments. In the future, we hope to extend collaboration developed on this expedition to include the application of micro-sidescan sonar to Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology.
Summary of Medical Activities
Summary of Medical Activities
Relatively few medical problems arose during the expedition. Interestingly, there were 3 Russians who required some evaluation for renal calculi. A 59 year-old male had a 3 day history or flank pain which had diminished but was still present as a dull ache. Ultrasound of his kidneys, ureter, and bladder did not demonstrate either the presence of a calculus or hydronephrosis (presumptive evidence of obstruction). Reassurance that no pathology existed was well received.
Another case of a 62 year-old male with a history of a 4 mm asymptomatic renal calculus was found to have a 1.2 cm by 1.2 cm simple renal cyst and 7 mm calculus in the upper pole of his right kidney. No further intervention was required at the time of evaluation and a plan for periodic observation was provided to him. The third case involved the Russian physician who had a history of open surgery for a calculus 5 years ago. There was no sonographic evidence of persistent renal stones and he was reassured.
Dr. Macedonia scanned a 40 year-old Russian female with a question of abdominal discomfort. A 5 cm complex cystic adnexal mass was discovered and she was urged to get a more comprehensive evaluation when she returns to land.
Aside from a few bumps, bruises, and abrasions, the expedition was uneventful from a medical perspective. This allowed us to donate a signicant cache of medical supplies to the AM Keldysh and thereby increase their capability to provide better care for their crew and guests.
Dispatch Log: 8.09.00
Titanic expedition August 9, 2000-
We arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland (pronounced New-fund-LAND) at 5:30 pm after leaving DC at 6:00 am with a 5 hour layover courtesy of Air Canada in Toronto. Easternmost city in Canada. Completely different terrain than east coast mid-Atlantic region. Cool, felt like autumn day; welcome relief from steamy and torrid climates of Texas, NM, and DC. We were loaded up with various technical instruments, medical supplies, and personal effects. Had to bring tet tox on ice because of loss of med during turbulence at sea on Endeavor during previous week.
Barbara Medlin- family practice physician from New Mexico in La Cueva, a small town 75 miles outside of Albuquerque. Extensive trekking experience.
Guest of Ralph White Col. Don Morley- Chief Engineer, San Antonio Air Logistics Center, USAF. Pentathlete and participant in the world championships in 1993 and at Olympic trials 2000. Interest in non-invasive imaging which coincides well with our interests. Cave diver, spelunker with Bill Stone. Chair of Texas chapter of EC. Never been a hunter, but learned to shoot for pentathlon. Varsity swimmer at Auburn Univ. Will be testing new concept of signalling with teflon (?) membrane for surface communication or localization that could be adapted to spelunking in complex caves.
Stephanie Tucker-4th year med student GWUMC. Previous experience as licensed EMT and had spent semester at sea providing medical care in 10 countries in Africa aboard a medical ship.
Major Christian Macedonia- USUHS. Researcher and participant in Extreme Everest research expedition 1998 where novel non-invasive monitoring devices were tested in the cold and altitude of Everest. Expert in sonography and major interest in non-invasive imaging.
Arrived to find out that Challenger was on the way to St. John’s and expected at 0600 on Aug 10 but that they would await special shipment of oil being shipped. Expect to leave Aug 11 or 12. This gives us a day to reconnoiter St. John’s and attend to last minute fine tuning of supply list. Hotel Newfoundland good accommodations, people extremely friendly.
St. John’s is a delightful picturesque city of 175,000 with several restaurants near the pier and a very lively night life with several pubs and restaurants with live music until 3 or 4 am. People very friendly. Dr. Macedonia acquired nickname “Screech” for his rapid accommodation of the locally-produced dark rum of the same name.
Small Titanic exhibit with some artifacts which had been brought back at time of rescue operation in 1912. Larry Daley is proprietor and tour operator who is very friendly and helped us with good advice and provided much insight into Newfoundland history. Newfoundland was part of Great Britain until merging with Canada in 1949. Larry claims that NF had to give up much to be incorporated with Canada. People with accents with clear Celtic roots; closest land east is coast of Ireland. Much Celtic music in abundance and most popular with the locals. No love lost with Quebec. Western NF with more French influence, eastern half much more Irish, British. New Brunswick has French speaking population that differs in accent and considers itself separate from both Quebecois and Frenc areas of western NF.
Took whale watching tour on Aug 12 into area off St. John’s and skirted the shoreline which is very craggy without beaches. Tons of seabirds with gulls, terns, kittiwakes, puffins all present. Saw several whales either humpbacks or Minke whales, some as close as 3-4 meters, and had spouts close enough to cover us with fine mist. Got a taste of North Atlantic chop and breeze once we pulled out of the excellent protected harbor of St. J. Signal Hill is sight of first receipt of distress call from Titanic at time of disaster. First Marconi wireless telegraph placed on Titanic. Two large cement stanchions midway in harbor are remnants of chains and mesh placed across harbor to protect citizens from German U boats in WW II. Larry told stories of fishermen having periscopes pop up a few meters away while out to sea. St. J also site of cold war espionage since Russian and Cuban vessels would come into harbor.
Crew of SV Explorer very friendly for most part. Captain does not like Americans but others are fine with us and have helped a lot. Most work for an agency in GB and this is first time on Titanic salvage expedition. Explorer purchased by RMST for $400,000 3 weeks before trip. Originally named Challenger but name changed because of bad connotation of “Challenger” with shuttle operation.
Dispatch Log: 8.14.00
Aug 14- Finally cast off on Aug 12 at 1400 after delay due to Hurricane Alberto which arrived off North Atlantic with 200 kph winds. Keldysh forced to move 100 mi north on Aug 10 to avoid storm and had to move 150 mi further (total 250 mi) on Aug 11. Slow moving storm, ironic that media meterologists said not to worry because the storm would cause no damage but it has caused us to delay 3 days. Calm seas with some swell but a beautiful day. Swell picked up a few hours later causing several of us to get out the scopolamine patches, forego any alcoholic beverages, and diminish our food intake.
Other participants – Dr. Howard Howell – Orthodontist who is involved with construction company which has built many of HealthSouth’s buildings in Florida. He has been asked to join RMST board of directors and will decide after the trip.
Lowell Lyttle – the actor who plays Captain Smith at RMST exhibits. He is also the promoter for the rock band that Mike Harris has hired full time to work on the salvage expedition with the artifacts. Also is very close to Mark Lach for years.
John Freeman – freelance photographer who does a lot of work for London Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Caroline Graham – jounalist from London Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Reporter and photographer from Channel One
Fox News Channel 13 reporter Lloyd Sowers and photographer John from Tampa
Roger Bansemer – artist doing book on Titanic expedition .
Dispatch Log: 8.18.00
Aug 18- Arrived at rendezvous point at 0200 on Aug 15 and woke to find Keldysh off our port side. Reporter and photographer from Channel 1 were off early since they would be first to dive. Came in on the next shift after breakfast and transfer from a small launch to the Keldysh was made interesting because of swell. Room assignment with Howard Howell on 7th deck with captains and Mike Harris; very comfortable surroundings. Right after lunch orientation meeting about the operation of the Keldysh and the subs. Received word that Howard and I would both be going down the next day and we were elated. It is very strange knowing that you will be going down over 2 miles at the site of history’s most famous wreck. Discussion with many of people on board provided mixed assessments about discomfort and danger of the subs, but long discussion with Anatoly Sagalevich reassured us. However, when the subs came up from the dives that day, the robotic arm of one of them was damaged because of the heavy load. The decision was made to scrub the dives on the following day to repair the robotic arm and service the submersibles. Found out from AS that he invented, designed, and has the most experience of any submersible pilot in the world. He estimated over 300 dives in his lifetime. The MIR submersibles have had 500 dives apiece, remarkable for the durability of the subs. Ralph White (EC) now has 34 dives to the Titanic, supposedly more than any other person.
The Russian personnel are very sober at this time because of the loss of the large Russian nuclear sub Korsk in the Bering Sea. The ship appears to have had an explosion on board which caused the sub to sink with 105 crew and officers in 500 feet of water. The sub does not carry nuclear weapons but uses nuclear energy for propulsion. It has been reported that no leak from the reactor is discernible. There has been no communication for a couple of days now and there is little hope of saving anyone at this time due to the technical difficulties of a salvage operation. Although it is unrealistic, I have been told that some of the crew members feel that they may have been able to contribute to a rescue operation had they been home at the time. We all feel deep empathy for the Russian sailors trapped underwater and hope for the best but expect the worst outcome.
Invited to Ralph’s room after the dive meeting on the night of the 16th where we learned that we were going down in the am. Ralph was first jumpmaster for SEAL Team 1 and is a very lively character. We found that we had several friends in common, usually through the EC, but including Roy Mackal. Ralph was the side-scan sonar person for the Loch Ness investigations in the late 60s and early 70s. Small world and that explains why his name was familiar to me before the EC.
Dive meeting the next morning 8 am at Sub Ops Room. Small bag allowed for clothing to layer due to the temperature drop from the mid 80s to about 35 at ocean bottom. MIR 1 left with Ralph ahead of us. Our sub had Lowell Lytle and a pilot named Zhena who had been working on submersibles first as an engineer for 1 year and then as a pilot since 1976. He has logged over 3000 hours in submersibles and participated in his 40th dive on the Titanic on the last day. This is more dives than either Anatoly or Ralph White and knowing this put us very much at ease. After donning jumpsuits with patches of the EC and Titanic and climbing to the top of the sub, we were wished bon voyage by all the other guests and crew members. Shoes are removed to prevent any hydraulic fluid from coming into the sub interior; this would be a potential fire hazard. Once seated with the hatch closed, a large cable is attached to the top of the sub and a large crane lifts the sub over the rail and into the water. At that time, one of the Russian sailors jumps onto the roof, disengages the cable, and rides upright on the sub while it is towed away from Keldysh by a launch. Sitting inside the sub, one is barely aware of any movement at all aside from some mild swaying while being towed. So much for motion sickness. Once entering the water, descent occurs at a rate of 35 m per minute so smoothly that you would be unaware of your depth without the gauges. The descent occurs in a spiral pattern due to the currents and fluid dynamic design. Visibility is surprisingly good up to 100 m but then rapidly becomes opaque. The temperature is quite warm for the first 30 minutes and is compounded by the jumpsuit. As it gradually cools down and condensation begins to form on the inside, we are given a thorough tour of our vehicle. The interior is very impressive because the ingenious design has incorporated several features with economy of space.
The submersibles are extraordinary for their record of reliability and durability. The subs were designed from the plan for the Soyez space capsules employed in the Soviet space program. Both the internal and external details are strikingly similar according to the engineers. The hull is titanium to enable it to withstand the pressures in excess of 6000 psi. There is excellent lighting and both still photography and video capabilities. The video provides an internal view of the area surrounding the sub which is useful when the view from one or more of the portholes are blocked by instruments or obscured by silt. The 2 multiple-hinged robotic articulating arms have 6 degrees of motion and are controlled by joysticks on the instrument panel. The claws are easily opened and closed with precision. One of the robotic arms has a tubular hose attached to it to aid in dislodging silt and other loose encrustation. Artifacts secured by the arms are brought into recovery baskets which can be extended to accommodate the artifacts for ease of placement. In the case of very large items, the robotic arms can be folded to secure the artifacts to the hull, much as one would carry a bulky package without handles.
A sonar demonstrates that you are within 700 m of the ocean floor, the sub slows its descent so that it will not bury itself upon impact. We moved forward at about 4 knots in the direction of the Titanic. It was amazing to see that the water was teeming with life. This was true throughout the entire dive where small biological particulates were everywhere. Upon closer inspection, these life forms were incredibly diverse and many were noted to be paddling frantically in the regatta of life. Some of the larger members included bright red shrimp and intricate jellyfish, one with a bright red internal globe that resembled a Christmas tree ornament in its entirety. Rattail fish were also present though we did not see as many as others had reported. These aptly-named fish have been proven to be quite inquisitive. Several lobster species were also noted and ranged in color from bright red to opalescent. Ghostly starfish were everywhere as were coelenterates of various configurations. The overall biomass is very impressive at these depths and greatly underscores our need to preserve the oceans and learn more about this vast environment.
The Russian biologists from the P. P. Shirsov Institute of Oceanology in Moscow include a general icthyologist and one who has an interest in pelagic fish. They have collected several specimens of the life at various depths and are conducting experiments on salinity, oxygenation, and other physical characteristics.
Once we landed on the bottom, we proceeded toward the wreck site approximately one half mile away. A debris field was located and was followed back to the starboard side of the Titanic. The massive ship had significant evidence of deterioration from decomposition with several large holes in the steel side and much encrustation by the “rusticles”. We followed the starboard side up to the bow where the classical view of the ship was readily apparent. The stern is separated from the bow by about 600 m and afforded a view of the midship area, including the captain’s bathtub. We then proceeded to the stern and the extensive and poorly explored debris field to the south and east of the stern. We were able to retrieve several noteworthy items including 2 very large wrenches, a copper hot water boiler with the engraved plate of the manufacturer, the internal telegraph unit with intact wooden handles which allowed communication between the bridge and the stern essential for docking instructions, a rectangular porthole, a beautiful mosaic from first class. We then collected several pieces of coal. Once our collection was attained, Zhena allowed me to pilot the ship and use the robotic arms to attempt retrieval of a piece of coal. The sensation is quite similar to laparoscopic surgery and could be mastered with practice. Zhena proved to an absolute master at the bimanual manipulation of unusually-shaped items into the recovery baskets.
During the artifact recovery phase, we have been tasked with the archaeological registration of each item we retrieve or any article that is of interest regardless of retrieval. This requires biaxial location, longitude and latitude, and time of discovery. More detailed location and orientation can then be reconstructed from the tapes of the dive.
The survey of the wreck itself is remarkable for the magnitude of the ship itself and is noteworthy for the fact that no human organic remains are present. The higher CO2 content at the ocean bottom makes a more acidic environment which combines with the high pressure to ensure that all human remains are dissolved. There are several academic publications that attest to that phenomenon.
All of this activity involves rapt attention during the dive. The unique nature of the dive and instruments is fascinating by itself and, when superimposed with the tremendous depth and historic nature of the Titanic shipwreck, one is enthralled throughout the dive with little thought of discomfort. Minor discomfort occurs because of the rather cramped nature of the interior but this is far outweighed by the magnitude of the experience. Portable urinals are available but the sub pilots do not seem to need them. Only later do I find out that there is a bet among the sub pilots whereby any pilot who has to urinate must contribute a bottle of scotch to a pool to be consumed by those who do not urinate during the dives. This occurs after the expedition is completed.
The spiral ascent takes longer time due to the weight of the artifacts. As the ascent begins, the pilot breaks out a lunch of sandwiches, fruit, and candy which is devoured by all of us, including the pilot. During both descent and ascent the pilot verbally checks in with the surface command at periodic intervals. The occasional visual check of the immediate environment with the external lights on the descent becomes more frequent during ascent to observe the recovery baskets and their contents. The internal condensation in the hull present since early in the dive results in periodic dripping on the aquanauts and a need to protect cameras and paperwork. The condensation results from the temperature dropping from about 85 F at the start to 35F during time on the ocean bottom. Oxygen concentration of the capsule is monitored constantly to be maintained between 19% and 22% and the filters of the scrubbers are changed according to the oxygen concentration. The scrubbers convert CO2 to oxygen and oxygen is supplemented by O2 tanks that are continually open.
Visibility is first noticeable at about 50 m below the surface and one is surprised again by the clarity of the water and overall visibility which becomes quite good at 35 m. As we surface and await our recovery by the Russian launch, it strikes one that the moderate motion from surface waves must be very similar to that experienced by the astronauts awaiting recovery in their capsule after splashdown. One cannot help but think that the emotions must be equally similar. The Russian recovery team coordinates attachment of the towline to the sub and the sub is brought alongside the Keldysh. The crane lowers its boom and a Russian sailor secures the crane to the sub. The sub is gently raised, maneuvered over the rail and into position over its docking station, and lowered very carefully into position. Once secured, a ladder is placed near the hatch and the aquanauts descend to cheers from the crowd. The experience is very exhilirating and everyone notices a certain giddiness in their responses to the media filming them to get their impressions of the dive. It takes several hours for this exhiliration to wear off. Frankly, one hopes that it never wears off.
Dispatch Log: 8.19.00
Aug 19 – The 2 last dives occur today with both Don Morley and Chris Macedonia getting the opportunity to dive. Don will perform experiments while underwater which involve light transmission from blue wavelength (approx 435 nm) diodes which will be reflected by various surfaces attached to the robotic arm. Realizing that CDs are an excellent reflective surface, Chris selected the most expendable CD in his collection – Brittny Spears! While the adults all laughed at this, we also realize that our children will think this is very cool. His experiments will consist of flashing the diode at the reflectors to see how much, if any, is reflected. This has not been done in an aqueous environment and certainly not at the depths and pressures of this dive. The test results have ramifications for communications in difficult areas such as those encountered during spelunking.
The artifacts from last night were identified and categorized with the smaller items proving to be of great interest. The suitcase appeared to be from a laborer in third class with several pairs of wool socks, a worksuit, suspenders, 2 pairs of heavy leather shoes, an apron that appears to be used for work but lacks slots for tools, a work bandanna that maintained its color. Several other items included a small rectangular sterling silver case that contained flints, probably for a lighter; a Swiss army knife; a small toy metal pistol that looked like it would be attached to a key chain and may be a present for a young boy; a magnifying glass monocle; a pencil; 2 tickets for the London omnibus; a syringe for loading a fountain pen; and an instrument called a “housewife” which was used for darning socks. There was also a spool of wool to darn the socks. The small sterling silver case had the name Alfred Allen and 1903 engraved on it. Apparently, there was a person with the surname Allen with a different first name leading to speculation that this may have been a gift from his father.
The port of St. John’s, Newfoundland, is peopled with very gregarious folks, many of Irish extraction who maintain the brogue, it was decided that there were far worse places to be stranded.