By Shannon Ricles
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
The team began to gather on Sunday evening in Morehead City, NC. Divers drove in from Louisiana, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. They were all tired after their long drives, but everyone seemed eager to begin the expedition. There was an excitement amongst the divers as it would be the first time for some of them to dive the U-352. Those that had previously dove the U-352 shared a few stories and information about the site, but morning was going to come all too early, so everyone hit their rack to get some sleep.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Dave Ball, Tane Casserley, and Joe Hoyt load the dive gear onto a cart. (Photo: NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)
Everyone was up early and headed over to the docks at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) in Beaufort. We were met by Roger Mays, who would be our boat captain on the R/V Hildebrand. Roger showed the guys where they could store their dive gear at the docks and where to park the “filling station,” which is a trailer equipped to fill the dive tanks.
Once the logistics were out of the way, the guys started to unpack and sort through their gear. They began to gear-up by putting their tanks on the buoyancy compensators (BC) and checking and attaching all the necessary dive equipment. I was curious as to why they had two of everything and Joe explained that it was for redundancy. You definitely wanted to have a backup if something broke while you were diving. The BC with the tanks and all the equipment is about 140 lbs, so they loaded them onto a cart to make carrying them the next day a little easier!
As the divers continued to get their gear ready, Roger took Dr. Craig Cook, the dive safety medic, to inspect and familiarize himself with the medical emergency equipment onboard the boat. Once everyone was finished and the gear was stowed, Roger briefed the team on safety procedures and explained his expectations while underway. Roger also said that we would have a drill the next day, so I paid close attention!
Tane Casserley and Joe Hoyt inspect their dive gear. (Photo: NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)
Finally, everything was packed and ready to go and everyone headed back to the University of North Carolina (UNC) Coastal Studies Institute’s dormitory, where we are staying. Tane and Joe cooked fresh shrimp, fish, corn, and squash for the team and everyone enjoyed the good food and good company. Soon it was time to retire as we had a full day ahead of us in the morning.