Reflections on the Monitor 2001 Expedition
August 16, 2001
Commander Barbara Scholley, U.S. Navy
Commanding Officer, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO
Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO (MDSU TWO) has unloaded, cleaned and restored all of its diving gear in preparation for the next operation; however, memories of the Monitor 2001 Expedition are still strong. The Navy dive team that supported this years operation will not quickly forget the excitement, hard work, and challenges faced during the recovery of the Monitors steam engine. Each and every diver performed to the highest level to make the work a huge success, and as the Commanding Officer of MDSU TWO, I can say that we had the best dive team in the Navy out there!
The Monitor 2001 Expedition Navy Dive Team was comprised of 148 divers from 24 different diving commands. They included 20 diving officers, 4 diving warrant officers and 10 master divers. They ranged from senior divers with more than 25 years of experience to junior divers who had only finished dive school weeks before the operation started. The one common trait of all these divers was that they couldnt wait to actually make a dive on the wreck of the USS Monitor. This was definitely the most exciting dive that most of these divers have made, or probably will make, in their careers. At the same time, they accomplished a job that will provide a piece of naval history for the entire country to view and reflect upon. This made the operation even more worthwhile.
As much as the divers loved the expedition, however, it was also a lot of long hours and hard work. Diving operations were conducted 24 hrs a day, 7 days a wk. Even with the unpredictable weather that historically plagues Cape Hatteras, diving operations stopped for only three days during the entire six-wk period. That added up to a tremendous amount of diving accomplished between the two different diving stations. The Mixed Gas Surface Supplied Divers made 429 dives and had 201 hrs of actual work on the wreck. This required 1139 hrs of decompression. The Saturation Divers had 465 hrs of work on the wreck and 216.8 man-days in saturation. This was all safely accomplished with no injuries to any of the divers.
Even though this years expedition is finished, the valuable training and experience that the Navy divers gained from the operation will stay within the Navy for years to come. Its hard to predict, but I would speculate that the Monitor Expeditions are directly responsible for many divers making Navy diving a career, and also for training several generations of future master divers and diving officers. This has been a wonderful success, and we all eagerly await the opportunity to participate in the Monitor 2002 Expedition. Navy divers have a cheer that is completely appropriate for the Monitor 2001 Expedition: "HooYah!"
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