July 20, 2000
Mark Miller - Shipwreck Historian
Today dawned clear and bright, only vaguely suggesting that the noonday sun would later become an enemy. The sun block flowed, since we had learned early on the lessons of no solar protection. We began the process of gathering our gear, loading the boat, and making the daily preparations for dives ahead. The rebreathers were readied, and triple checked. This was it.
Our target for today, the first with our newly arrived techno dive gear, was the Asakaze Maru. This wreck sits perfectly level on a 140 foot bottom. Her massive hulk is festooned with marine life, and many interesting sights lie hidden within steel plating warped and shattered by the violence of war. This wreck burned so furiously when struck by American bombs that the glass melted from portholes, and entire decks sagged after enduring a white-hot conflagration. Still, remnants of the cargo, including coal, tinned goods, and uniforms survived below decks, and were examined by our crew. The rebreathers performed flawlessly, and allowed us much longer bottom times in which to conduct our work. In fact, we believe that we may have set a record as the first civilian divers to use both mixed gases and rebreather technology at Kwajalein Atoll.
After prowling the gangways and corridors of the sunken vessel, Jonathan and I were able to sneak up on a sea turtle and watch it slowly circle in the water column above the wreck while dining on its favorite snack; jellyfish. Sea turtles are not usually scared of humans, but are always wary of noisy bubbles from conventional scuba units, and therefore hard to approach.
We conducted two dives on the Asakaze Maru with Jonathan and myself examining the interior of the wreck, while Gator and Tom shot some scenic external views.
Cliff got his first taste of the Kwajalein wrecks, and I think he might like it!
After the dives it was back to the beach to recharge tanks, analyze gases, and sterilize the rebreather units in preparation for the next morning. I canÍt speak for the rest of the crew, but I know that in addition to having way too much fun diving, a hot shower and cool bunk felt pretty darn good to me!