Chris Horrell preparing to dive on the HMT Bedfordshire(Photo: NOAA)
Today was our first day on the water after several days of boat trouble and delays. Meeting early in the morning, we loaded the boats and made our way to the site of the HMT Bedfordshire. Arriving on site, divers donned their gear and entered the water to explore the remains of this ill fated British Trawler sunk by U-558 on May 12, 1942 with all 37 souls lost. Today's objectives included examining and assessing the site's overall condition, determining the distribution of hull materials and other structural components, and photo/video documentation of the work. The vessel's boiler is intact as well as the remains of what appear to be a deck winch. Several frames extend above the seafloor and there are at least five unexploded depth charges in the stern section of the vessel.
Nathan Richards, Mauritus Bell, and Chris Horrell ready to dive. (Photo: NOAA)
At the site of HMT Bedfordshire, there is a teeming array of sea life including, triggerfish, amberjack, eels, stingrays, grouper, lionfish, and black and bank seabass. This is truly an example of a vessel whose function changed over time. That is, the vessel started as a trawler, was converted to a patrol boat, and is now acting as an artificial reef. I am constantly surprised at the interesting and unique items found in underwater contexts, and I certainly am looking forward to discovering more about the ill fated HMT Bedfordshire and her new role as an artificial reef!
Divers returning to the R/V Sam Gray.(Photo: NOAA)