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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Divers Explore Remains Of Steamer

PORTLAND, Maine -- Five Massachusetts divers who explored the remains of a steamship that sank in 1898 in New England's worst maritime disaster say they found plenty of evidence of those who went down with the luxury steamship, but no human remains.

The wreckage of the S.S. Portland off Cape Cod was littered with artifacts like plates, dishes, mugs, wash basins and toilets - even a few medicine bottles etched with the name of an apothecary in Maine.

David Faye, one of the divers, said the human tragedy was the first thing to come to mind when the ship emerged from the pitch black darkness 460 feet below the ocean surface.
"I immediately thought of these people -- how horrible it must've been," said Faye, a lawyer in Cambridge. "They had no communication with shore. They had no idea where they were. The storm was pushing them out to sea."

More than 190 people died when the paddle-wheel steamer sank 110 years ago after departing Boston.

The recreational divers spoke this week publicly about their three successful dives in August and September, marking the first time divers had reached the Portland wreckage.

Reaching the ship tested their limits and their equipment because the wreckage rests so far below the surface. Their dives were so deep that some of the underwater lights imploded with a noisy boom, Faye said. The divers could spend only 10 to 15 minutes exploring the wreckage site before returning to the surface.

The wreck was first located in 1989 by underwater explorers Arnold Carr and John Fish, but they couldn't prove it was the Portland.

It wasn't until 2002 that the ship's location in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary between Cape Ann and Provincetown was firmly established by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration team using a submersible.

Because the location is kept secret, the divers had to independently verify the location. They had no sponsors; they paid out of pocket for their dives. The diving equipment cost between $10,000 and $50,000 per person, Faye said.

The group succeeded in reaching the Portland on three out of seven tries. The dives were so deep that the divers used a combination of helium and oxygen in their tanks; it took up to four hours for the divers to surface from the depth to avoid decompression illness, known as the bends.

"You have to give the wreck its respect," Faye said. "It's deep and it's dangerous, and you have to be at the top of your game."

To this day, it remains a mystery why Captain Hollis Blanchard ignored forecasts of a storm as the Portland left Boston's India Wharf on Nov. 26, 1898. The winds reached 100 mph, and waves crested at 60 feet, higher than the ship's smokestacks.

The divers realized immediately they'd found the right wreckage. Parts of the twin smokestacks remain, along with the paddle wheels. Much of the wreckage was entangled in fishing nets.

The divers found no human remains. If there are any human remains, they were likely below decks, which the divers didn't explore because of the danger.

The divers were unable to retrieve artifacts from the wreckage because of rules in place in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. For now, the Portland's resting place remains a secret to prevent it from being plundered.

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/17641622/detail.html
 

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For anyone who is pondering, 480 feet is well beyond the maximum safe limit for recreational diving (120 feet)...even though the article mentioned they were recreational scuba divers. It is deep into the category of technical diving.
 

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Local dive team reaches historic wreck

By Kirk Williamson

Don Morse of Beverly Farms sits aboard the Donna III at the Beverly city marina last week as he talks about being part of a



Local dive team reaches historic wreck

By Bobby Gates

Wed Oct 15, 2008, 05:56 PM EDT
Beverly, Mass. -

The S.S. Portland sat alone at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for more than 100 years until late this summer when a five-man team of recreational divers - including a Beverly Farms man -laid eyes on it for the first time since the ship sank.
The group of five men has been diving together for close to a decade from the Donna III, a boat owned by Doug Currier whose home is at a slip in the city's marina behind the old McDonalds on the waterfront.
Their trip to the ocean floor with close to 300 pounds of diving gear on each of their back's was their most momentous dive to date. It brought them up close and personal with the remains of one of the most deadly maritime disaster in New England history - a wreck that had only been located less than a decade ago and positively identified six years ago.
"This is the most historically significant wreck in the area," said Bob Foster of Foxboro, the group's leader.
Don Morse of Beverly Farms joined Foster, Paul Blanchette of Dracut, David Faye of Cambridge and Slav Mlch of East Boston.
The men shared the story of their dives while sitting on the Beverly docks after a dive one morning last week.
The SS Portland was headed from Boston to Portland, Maine on the Saturday after Thanksgiving 1898. But it never made it, getting hammered by what would later be termed the Portland Gale before going down with close to 200 crew and passengers on board.
It sits about 460 feet below the surface in the Stellwagon Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Cape Ann.
"We went to a place where your equipment is rated," Faye said.
The first time the group reached the ship they came down above the walking beam on the ship - a "very unique" and distinctive structure on the top of the ship next to the smoke stacks.
The group made three dives - one in late August and two in September.
Blanchette said the group, which took pictures and video of the remains, saw everything from milk pitchers and plates to piece of brass that looked like they were part of the steamship's whistle.
The dives could only have been done in August and September because that's when the water is warm enough to allow them to go as deep as the Portland sits. Even though the group made it down three times, they had three other aborted dives - once the Coast Guard was conducting gunnery exercises in the area and two other times it was too rough to go in. The water was 43 degrees down at the ship remains and 67 degrees at the surface.
The challenges presented by the depth came not only from the water temperature but also from the pressure. It took up to four hours to get back to the surface while the divers decompressed, after spending no more than 15 minutes exploring the ship's remains.
For years, the group did dives to an area known as the "dumping grounds," where many ships sit on the ocean floor. They try to do one dive a week year-round, Morse said.
They whet their appetites last summer with several dives to the Palmer and Crary, the coal ships that collided off the coast and sit 360 feet down.
"We knew about the Portland but it was out of our league," Foster said.
The group of Portland divers has been going out with Currier for eight years as they worked their way to the successful Portland dives.
Currier said he's owned the Donna III for 35 years
"I started out doing diving and fishing, but then diving was taking all the time," he said, noting he does about 180 dives a year.
"I don't advertise," he said. "It's the same people over the years."
"Not everyone will take a boatload of people wherever they want to go," Foster said.
Each of the diver's equipment costs at least $10,000 and the divers do dives almost every weekend.
"You have to have time and money," Morse said about diving.
Morse, who used to be a master SCUBA diver trainer at Undersea Divers in Beverly for five years, each met each other over the years in the small diving community in Massachusetts.
After reaching one of the deepest and most historically significant shipwrecks off the New England coast, what's next for the group?
"There's a couple of other wrecks we've been looking at," Foster said.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First Underwater Look At New England Shipwreck

The Steamship Portland before she sank.

CAPE COD (WBZ) ― The Steamship Portland went down off the New England coast during a terrible storm back in November 1898. It became known as the Titanic of New England. Now, over a century later, divers have reached the wreck for the very first time.

"When we came down on the wreck, this was one of the first things we saw," said Bob Foster, pointing out dinner plates in underwater video taken by his dive team.

Watch: Video Tour of the Steamship Portland Shipwreck

The Steamship Portland as she sits now.

"It was a thrill just to be there," Foster described. "We had been working for two years just to get to that point."

Foster recently led a team of divers to the wreck of the Portland, the first divers ever to accomplish that. At a depth of almost 500 feet, the divers could only survey the wreck for 15 minutes before returning to the surface. They plan to resume their dives in the spring.

"It's really a funny feeling to come down on this wreck for the first time and see all these real personal artifacts," Foster said. "It really brings it home just how many people were lost on this ship."

Dinner plates scattered in the wreckage.

The Steamship Portland sank north of Stellwagen Bank in what is now Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary holds the wreck in trust. No sunken artifacts can be removed, maintaining what amounts to an underwater museum.

"New England's stormy weather has resulted in hundreds of shipwrecks," said Matt Lawrence, a maritime archaeologist with the sanctuary.

The weekend of October 25, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum is hosting a two day event on marine archaeology. The museum is located at 135 South Street in Hyannis (508-775-1723).

http://wbztv.com/local/steamship.portland.shipwreck.2.847967.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Divers find 1903 shipwreck near Block Island

Associated Press - December 23, 2008 12:44 PM ET
MYSTIC, Conn. (AP) - A group of divers says it has found the wreckage of a schooner that collided with a steamship and sank in 1903 near Block Island, R.I.
Mark Munro of Griswold says his Sound Underwater Survey group and the Baccala Wreck Divers had looked for the remains of the Jennie R. Dubois in their spare time since 2002.
He says they found it about 6 miles southeast of Block Island in federal waters.
Munro says the 2,200-ton, five-masted schooner was the largest ship ever built on Connecticut's Mystic River. It was launched 19 months before the collision.
He says he and fellow divers positively identified the wreckage in September 2007, but kept it a secret until Monday so more research could be done.
The divers will present their findings in Mystic in February.

On the Web:
Sound Underwater Survey: http://www.soundunderwatersurvey.com

http://www.abc40tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=9571522&nav=menu1460_2
 
G

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all set......... throw me out of a perfectly working airplane but you can keep your dark trips 500 feet below the ocean
 

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Indeed. I'm a diver, and I can't understand why you anyone would want to spend FOUR HOURS underwater for a 15 minute dive just so you can resurface without dying...

Hell, sometimes I have to weigh going diving with the hassle of washing my gear afterwards. ;-)
 

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all set......... throw me out of a perfectly working airplane but you can keep your dark trips 500 feet below the ocean
I've been a helluva lot deeper than 500' but it's classified, sorry!
As for the other type, lets just say I'm certified!
;)
 
G

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all set......... throw me out of a perfectly working airplane but you can keep your dark trips 500 feet below the ocean
As long as I got along with my shipmates, I could spend months being hundreds of feet underwater in a submarine. At least I wouldn't have to deal with moronic civilians asking stupid questions, and thinking their donut jokes are hugely original.
 
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