June 30, 2002
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
Monitor Expedition 2002 diving began at 9:27 am on June 26, a beautiful Wednesday morning with favorable conditions both on the surface and under water. By midnight, Navy surface-supplied divers had made three dives. The saturation (sat) system had completed all testing during an eight-hour dive and was certified for diving. Divers surveyed the wreck, placed tools and steel baskets on the bottom, and began the arduous task of removing tons of debris from the deck that overlies the turret.
In the early hours on Thursday, however, we began to feel the effects of the predicted bad weather. By 2:00 pm, winds were blowing 35 to 40 knots, and seas had built up to 8 feet, causing the barge to strain at its anchors. To prevent equipment damage and anchor dragging, the barge had to be turned more directly into the oncoming seas. Unfortunately, this action moved the barge far enough away from the wreck to prevent divers from reaching the wreck. Diving had to be suspended temporarily.
Late on Friday, June 28, diving resumed, though sea conditions remained poor. Shortly after 7:00 pm, a severe thunderstorm with winds over 50 knots swept over the barge. When it passed by, though, it seemed to take the bad weather with it. Sea conditions improved remarkable quickly, and full-scale dive operations resumed.
The good weather allowed for productive dives. On Saturday, June 29, the first artifact of the expedition was brought to the surfacea bronze and wood sheave, or pulley wheel.
Work continued on the armor belt and deck that must be removed to give us access to the turret. By late Sunday, June 30, work was progressing well on the section of hull and armor belt just aft of the turret. We hope to remove it within 24 hours.
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