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Reclaimer ARS-42 - History

Reclaimer ARS-42 - History

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(ARS-42: dp. 2,160 (f.) ,1. 213'6", b. 43'0", dr. 14'0", s. 16 k.
cpl. 120; a. 4 40mm.; cl. Diver)

Reclaimer (ARS-42) was laid down 10 November 1944 by Basalt Roek Co., Ine., Shipbuilding Division, Napa, Calif:; launched 23 June 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Daniel Clark, Jr.; and commissioned 20 December 1945, Lt. D. A. Bendinelli in command.

After shakedown off San Pedro, Reclaimer steamed to Pearl Harbor where she operated until assigned to Joint Task Force1, arriving at Bikini on 1 June 1946. There she served as salvage vessel and was contaminated during the Operation Crossroads atomic tests, but received final radiological elearanee on 13 January 1947. She returned to Pearl Harbor in September 1946 and to the west coast in October where she remained until decommissioned 23 June 1947. She was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet and berthed at San Diego.

Reclaimer recommissioned on 1 December 1950 for service in the Korean eonfliet and, after shakedown off San Diego towed AP-23 to Hawaii. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 12 February 1951, she then proceeded on across the Pacific touched at Majuro and Guam, and reached Sasebo, Japan 29 April.

On 8 May Reclaimer got underway to aid SS Muhlenberg Vietory, grounded on Uku Shima, an island near Sasebo. With the aid of Grasp (ARS-24), she refloated the ship a week later and on 27 May towed YO-179 to Pusan, Korea. She then steamed to Wonsan for patrol duties between that port and Songjin. In mid-June, she escorted Wile (DD-72.~), damaged by a mine, to Sasebo. Six days later, she returned to Pusan to tow the burning merchantman Plymouth Victory, back to Sasebo where the fire was Pxtinguished. During August Reclaimer assisted in minesweeping and laid buoys in Wonsan Harbor. On 7 September, she refloated the beacted Japanese LST Q 081 at Kangnung, Korea. On 10 October, with Yuma (ATF-94), she towed the Royal Navy's hospital ship Mair~e which had lost a propeller, on a westward passage through the crowded and narrow Shimonoseki Straits. This was the only hospital ship supporting U.N. forces at that time.

On 22 January 1952, she departed Yokosuka to return to her homeport, Pearl Harbor, where she remained until 21 October. Returning to WestPae with YC 104 in tow, Reclaimer reached Sasebo on 17 November. On 2 December she arrived at Sokeho Hang, Korea, to rescue two LST's aground in heavy seas. With one of the LST's in tow she reached Sasebo on 18 December. After brief duty with the Wonsan blockade force, Reclaimer took SS Gulf Haven in tow while she was foundering in a typhoon, and successfully brought her to Japan.

Reclaimer continued to operate in Japan and Korea until returning to San Diego on 25 July 1953. For the next 3 months she operated on the west coast, steaming back to Pearl Harbor in late October. In March 1954, she headed southwest to the Marshalls for salvage work during Operation "Castle", the

hydrogen bomb test series at Bikini. Departing Bikini 4 May she continued on to Japan. Through the summer she operate] in Japanese and Korean waters, then, during September and October, stood by off Freneh Indoehina while Freneh and American ships, in Operation Passage to Freedom, evacuated refugees from what was to become North Vietnam.

Returning to the United States, Reclaimer spent the first 6 months of 1955 operating off the west coast, then deployed to the Far East. During early 1956, she operated in the Hawaiian Islands, reaching Yokosuka 30 September. She returned to Pearl Harbor 12 February 1957.

After freeing the grounded LST Chittenden County from Kauai, Hawaii, she again conducted salvage operations in the Far East 12 July to 30 November. Returning to Pearl Harbor she began a 2-month tour on the west coast in February 1958 then, following further services at Hawaii, again set sail for a 4 month deployment to WestPae. She returned to Pearl Harbor in August and to the west coast in February 1959, but was back at Pearl after only a month. In June she deployed to WestPae, returning in September.

Reclaimer spent early 1960 in tho Hawaiian area, and inHtalled underwater cables near Midway to detect missiles fired into the area. Then she steamed for Yokosuka 6 September. Returning to Pearl Harhor 21 December, she operated in the Hawaiian Islands until sailing for the Far East 26 June. BaGk at Pearl Tlarbor in November, Reclaimer undertook several assignments.

Following an overhaul, Reclaimer steamed in May 1962 for Christmas Island and another nuclear test—Operation Domonie—where she laid target moors and placed target rafts for the next 2 months. Arriving at Yokosuka 6 October Rcclaimer operated in the Far East until she returned to Hawaii early in lg63 and, with the exception of salvaging MV Shokafu at Pago Pago, Samoa, in March, operated there throughout the rest of the year.

Steaming back to Japan in January 1964, Reclaimer operated there and off Korea, Okinawa, and Taiwan before proceeding to Saigon to salvage USNS Card (T-AKV-40), sunk up to her main deek in Saigon Harbor by Viet Gong mines. With Tawakoni (ATF-114), Reclaimer refloated Card and towed her to the Philippines, then returned to Pearl Harbor on 22,Tune and remained there for the rest of 1964.

In 1965 Reclaimer participated in "Market time" operatiOns off Vietnam for 2 months, salvaged LST-559 in Danang Harbor, and performed various towing assignments, before returning to Pearl Harbor in July. In January 1966, she was off for WestPae again, and while so deployed was called on for three major salvage operations and for support in amphibious Operation Jaekstay in rivers of the Rung Sat Speeial Zone. Reclaimer participated in the sueeessful salvage of the Esso Tanker SS Sea Raven off the beach of Chu Lai. Then, steaming south, she performed similar operations for merehantmen grounded off northern Australia. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 August 1966 and on 9 November was underway for Oregon. She returned from the west coast to Pearl Harbor a month later.

In March 1967 Reclaimer rescued SS Norbega, dead in the water west of Midway, before deploying to WestPae in April. In June she laid a special radar refleeting buoy in the Gulf of Tonkin to aid SAR patrol ships in navigation. She continued operations off Taiwan and Vietnam, including the salvage of South Vietnamese LSM-406 aground at Phan Thiet, until returning to Pearl Harbor at the end of 1967.

After spending the first half of 1968 in Pearl Harbor Reclaimer arrived at Danang, South Vietnam, on 29 August for standby salvage duty. Tn September she salvaged LCV1616 and in October LCU-1676. Returning to the westcoast in mid-1969, she deployed to WestPae again at the end of the year and operated off Vietnam for the whole of 1970, entering Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 17 March 1971. At Pearl Harbor Reclaimer underwent regular overhaul and, subsequent to overhaul, engaged in salvage and refresher training. In February 1972, she was re-deployed to WestPae, returning to Hawaii in late August. She remained in the Pearl Harbor area throughout 1972 and the first six months of 1973. In July 1973, she steamed westward again for deployment, spending the last six months oP 1973 in the western Pacific. As of late January 1974, Reclaimer is making the passage from Apra, Guam, to Pearl Harbor.

Reclaimer earned six battle stars for Korean War service and one battle star for Vietnam.

Reclaimer ARS-42 - History

Status - They arrived in Panama on June 15, 2010

I was not able to catch RECLAIMER passing through the locks.
She left Panama on the 19th and is scheduled to arrive Brownsville on 28th.

Tugboat Roughneck Tow
The boat was towing USS CLAMP ARS 33 and USS BOLSTER ARS 38

Two days after arrival - The tug Smit Balboa came out with supplies.

Saturday, June 18th the tow proceeded to a channel mooring.

Roughneck passed the base and anchored her two ships in tow up stream.
She then made port at Rodman. Sunday evening she returned to the 2 ships.

How about that? The Peace Boat docked over night
at Rodman. It's nice that I got a photo of it.

On Monday morning the group of three ships are anchored 400 yards of the east coast of the channel.

Tugboat Norton Bay came on the scene.

Go To: MiraFlores Locks Page for Norton Bay TOW

Tugboat Roughneck

Owner: Oregon Offshore Towing, Coos Bay, Oregon

Go to Reclaimer Page

Reclaimers Wall Art

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Reclaimer ARS-42 - History

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Custom built ship models of all types such as this USS Reclaimer (ARS-42) Bolster Class Rescue and Salvage ship in waterline 1/700th scale are built by professional Master Model Builders with more than 40 years experience. Each one is a custom work of fine art built by hand in the USA.

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Reclaimer ARS-42 - History

USS Swordfish (SSN-579), a Skate-class submarine, was the second submarine of the United States Navy named for the swordfish, a large fish with a long, swordlike beak and a high dorsal fin.

The contract to build her was awarded to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard of Kittery, Maine on 18 July 1955, and her keel was laid down on 25 January 1956. She was launched on 27 August 1957 sponsored by Mrs. Eugene C. Riders, and commissioned on 15 September 1958 with Commander Shannon D. Cramer, Jr., in command.

Swordfish completed fitting out and held her shakedown in the Atlantic. After post-shakedown availability and subsequent sea trials along the east coast, she was assigned a home port in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, effective 16 March 1959. She steamed to Hawaii in July and was the second nuclear-powered submarine to join the Pacific Fleet, joining USS Sargo (SSN-583). Assigned to Submarine Squadron 1,Swordfish steamed over 35,000 miles during her first year in commission with over 80% of them submerged.

In January 1960, Swordfish deployed to the western Pacific for four months and became the first nuclear submarine in that area. During this time, President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-Shek was embarked for a one-day indoctrination cruise. She deployed to WestPac again on 20 June and on this occasion took President of the Philippines Carlos P. Garciato sea for a one-day demonstration. The submarine conducted local operations in the Hawaiian area from January to May 1961. In late May, the submarine got underway for the west coast of the United States where she operated between San Diego, California, and San Francisco, California, with various Pacific Fleet units. Swordfish returned to Pearl Harbor on 14 July and operated locally until September when she deployed to the western Pacific for two months.

Swordfish sailed to Mare Island in January 1962 and became the first nuclear submarine to be overhauled on the Pacific coast. She returned to Hawaii on 29 September for refresher training and local operations. On 26 October, the submarine was again deployed to WestPac.

In the autumn of 1963 Swordfish observed from close range a Soviet anti-submarine warfare exercise in the North Pacific. She was detected, but the Soviets were unable to force her to surface. The mission provided recordings of the Soviets' radio chatter and plots of their radar search patterns.

Swordfish continued operating from Pearl Harbor, on local operations and on deployments to the western Pacific, as a member of Submarine Division 71 until 30 June 1965 when she was assigned to SubDiv 11 which was also based there. In late 1965, Swordfish was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation for special operations from 8 October to 3 December 1963, from 22 September to 25 November 1964, and from 20 May to 23 July 1965.

Swordfish arrived at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard on 1 November 1965 to undergo a refueling and SubSafe overhaulwhich lasted until 31 August 1967. Sea trials were held in September and weapons trials in early October. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 October and conducted refresher training until 31 December 1967. The period 1 January to 2 February 1968 was spent in preparation for overseas movement. Swordfish deployed to the western Pacific on 3 February.

On 8 March 1968, K-129, a Golf-II class submarine, sank northwest of Oahu. On 17 March, Swordfish put into Yokosuka, Japan, for emergency repairs to a bent periscope. The United States Navy states that Swordfish was damaged in an ice pack and that K-129, with her nuclear missiles and crew of 98, was destroyed by an internal explosion, perhaps hydrogenfrom its batteries, perhaps a torpedo, while some 2000 miles (3,000 km) distant from Swordfish.

In May 1968, anti-nuclear activists alleged that Swordfish had released radioactive coolant water into the harbor ofSasebo, Japan where she was moored at the time. Some sources state that Japanese scientists discovered levels up to twenty times normal background, others, that they could not detect any increase in radioactivity. The Japanese protested the incident to the United States, and Japanese Premier Eisaku Sato stated that U.S. nuclear ships would no longer be allowed to call at Japanese ports unless their safety could be guaranteed.

Swordfish returned to Pearl Harbor on 5 September and remained in port the remaining four months of the year.

Swordfish conducted local operations in the Hawaiian area from 1 January to 11 May 1969 at which time she again deployed until 4 November. The remainder of the year was spent in a leave and upkeep period. She was deployed on special operations from 24 February to 9 April 1970 and then entered drydock at Pearl Harbor for an availability period which lasted until 30 September. The remainder of calendar year 1970 was spent conducting a period of crew training necessitated by the yard period.

Local operations during 1971 were broken by a tour in WestPac from 24 March to 22 September. During this deployment, the submarine visited Yokosuka, Buckner Bay, Pusan, and Hong Kong. Swordfish continued local operations until 26 June 1972 when she entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her annual overhaul which lasted through 31 December 1973. Upon completion of the yard period, Swordfish resumed operations with her Pearl Harbor-based squadron.

On 22 June 1977, Swordfish launched a Mark 14 torpedo which made a circular run and hit the port screw. Fortunately, it was an exercise torpedo. Swordfish returned to port for 24 hours, did a screw change, and went back to sea.

Swordfish made a deployment to the western Pacific from October 1977 until March, 1978, stopping in Yokosuka, Pusan,Chinhae, Guam, Philippines, and Hong Kong.

In July 1979 the Swordfish began a western Pacific deployment, stopping in Yokosuka, Pusan, and the territory of Guam. After refitting in Guam the ship began operations again, but was forced to return to Guam after several days to repair the diesel engine after the muffler exhaust valve broke, flooding the engine. After repairs were made the deployment continued without incident until the ship's return to Pearl Harbor in December 1979.

Local operations were carried out until the ship was deployed to the western Pacific during the summer of 1980. Upon returning to Pearl Harbor the ship resumed local operations until entering Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for overhaul and refueling in March 1981.

In late October 1985, Swordfish was delayed in departing Pearl Harbor due to the failure of the drain pump. A replacement was obtained from USS Skate (SSN-578), in the shipyard for decommissioning, but Swordfish put to sea before the pump was fully connected and tested, and the crew could not get the pump to operate. Since the engine room bilges could not be pumped, by the evening of 23 October, the first day at sea, the water in the engine room lower level bilge was over the deck plates (more than four feet). The crew tried to use a portable submersible pump, but were not successful.

When the water level got high enough to get up into the bottoms of the motors for the main lube oil pumps, causing grounds, the Captain came aft and saw the situation and decided to take the boat shallow to allow pumping bilges. When the planesmen put a slight up-angle on the boat to come shallow the water in the bilges instantly rushed aft, greatly increasing its effect on trim (this is known as "free surface effect", later classes of subs have flood control bulkheads in engineroom lower level to prevent this) and causing an up-angle of about 45 degrees.

When "fire in engineroom lower level" was announced, due to water in the main lube oil pump motors, a man in the aft end of engineroom upper level opened the watertight door into the stern room, which swung into the stern room, to retrieve a fire extinguisher. Just then the up-angle increased dramatically and the bilge water began pouring in. The door was shut before the boat surfaced. With the boat on an even keel, the water came up to the deadlight in the door.

The maneuvering watchstanders began to take the immediate actions for loss of shaft lube oil the throttleman began to shut the throttles for the main engines. Without propulsion, the extreme up-angle caused the ship to quickly stop and begin moving backwards, sinking stern first. When the fire was announced, the Engineer had gone to Maneuvering (the control center of the engine room). He saw the depth gage indicating a rapid increase in depth, ordered "Ahead Full" on his own initiative, and opened the starboard forward throttle himself in an effort to drive the ship to the surface. In Control, theCaptain saw similar indications, and ordered "Blow Aft!". Before the Chief of the Watch could initiate the blow on the aft group the up-angle became so steep that he was unable to maintain footing and slid to the rear of the Control compartment. He quickly climbed back up to the emergency blow "chicken switches" and opened the after group valve.

Swordfish surfaced successfully. However, during the up-angle the freshwater drain collecting tank vents were submerged and sucked contaminated water into the feed system. The steam generator water could not be analyzed immediately because nucleonics laboratory in the stern room had been inundated by the wave of bilgewater. After a while, the leading ELT found the necessary reagents and analyzed samples from both steam generators on the top hat in reactor compartment upper level. By this time the boat was in direct communication with Naval Reactors, which ordered the reactor shut down and cooled down and steam generators drained and refilled. The emergency diesel generator, located in engineroom lower level, initially had water in the generator from the incident but it was drained and the diesel was online before the reactor was shut down. The reactor was cooled down and steam generators were blown down with service air and refilled until all fresh water on the boat was exhausted, which was a couple of hours before arriving back in Pearl Harbor the cooks broke out cans of juice and distributed them around the boat. Subsequent analysis of steam generator water revealed no leakage of reactor coolant into the steam generators.

Three of the boat's four air conditioning compressors were shut down as part of the rig for reduced electrical. The temperature in the ship exceeded 80°F (27C) with near 100% humidity for the several hours required for a tug to be dispatched from Pearl Harbor and tow Swordfish home. The tug, USS Reclaimer (ARS-42) arrived the next morning and began the tow around noon, arriving back in Pearl Harbor just after midnight.

The actions of the Chief of the Watch and the Engineer saved Swordfish and her crew. The boat spent the rest of 1985 in port making repairs and returned to sea in January, 1986, making a successful deployment to the western Pacific later in 1986.

Boom-Type Bucket-Wheel Reclaimers

TAKRAF boom-type bucket-wheel reclaimers are popular in applications where medium to high flow rates from dumps are being reclaimed.

Our boom-type bucket-wheel reclaimers cover the following flow rates and sizes:

  • Reclaiming capacity: 500 t/h to 20,000 t/h
  • Rail gauge: 6 m to 20 m
  • Boom length: 25 m to 60 m

Our machines are all specifically designed to our client's requirements and incorporate various solutions according to their specific application.

Specific design features of our boom-type bucket-wheel reclaimers

In applications involving low or medium flow rates and/or short boom lengths, machines in which the bucket-wheel and counterweight boom are combined in a fixed rocker arrangement are generally preferred. This arrangement results in a reduced number of pivot joints.

Where large higher flow rates and/or longer boom lengths are required, we prefer a machine design in which the bucket-wheel and counterweight boom are combined in a pantograph arrangement. The pantograph arrangement ensures that with large boom loads, small changes in the point of balance are stabilized, which has a significantly positive impact on machine steadiness and tilt safety. A drawback with this design however is the increased number of pivot joints.

Automation options

The majority of our boom-type bucket-wheel reclaimers are semi-automated however, there is a growing trend towards full automation and we are able to supply fully automated machines too. These machines incorporate further control systems and sensor logic and are controlled and monitored from a central control room, doing without a machine control cabin.

Final Summer for USS Warrington.

Many Americans probably believed that by 1972, the war in Vietnam was essentially winding down. However, for the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, 1972 would prove to be a busy year of conducting numerous and dangerous combat operations. Another example of events that year happened in mid-July 1972, to USS Warrington (DD 843) a Gearing class destroyer while assigned to Operation “Linebacker.”

Warrington had departed from her homeport in Newport, RI on June 5, and headed, via the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor, for Guam in the Mariana Islands. Arriving at Apra Harbor, Guam on June 30. The ship departed Apra Harbor the following day, bound for Subic Bay, Philippines. She departed from Subic Bay early on July 6, reaching Vietnamese waters later the same day. During her first period on the Vietnam gunline, Warrington conducted naval gunfire support (NGFS) missions along the coast of the I Corps zone of South Vietnam. On July 15, she briefly put into port of Da Nang, after departing Da Nang, she headed for the coast of North Vietnam to participate in Operation “Linebacker.”[1]

USS Warrington (DD 843).*

On July 16, she relieved Hamner (DD 718) of “Linebacker” duty and began her primary mission the destruction of North Vietnamese small craft and observation of communist Chinese merchant shipping. The following morning, while operating in company with USS Hull (DD 945) and USS Robison (DDG 12), Warrington came under the rapid and heavy fire from enemy shore batteries but she took prompt evasive action and avoided damage.[2][4]

Later that same afternoon at 1316, off the coast of North Vietnam, near Dong Hoi, the ship was rocked by two underwater explosions close aboard on her port side. There are accounts that the ship did not receive any messages warning about laid mines in the area. None-the-less the ship entered an area where U.S. aircraft jettisoned bombs and mines, so the mines the ship had stuck were ours.[3] It also could have been the case that some bombs and mines were not dropped where they should have been, and Warrington simply stumbled onto mislaid mines.[4] She had suffered serious damage in her after fire room, engine room, and in the main engine room or main control. Warrington’s crew had been able to control the damage and flooding from the mine explosions, which enabled the ship to retire from the area under her own power.[1][3]

Warrington, listing to port from damage caused by striking the mines.*

Hull came alongside Warrington to transfer repair personnel, pumps, and shoring equipment to Warrington to address continuing flooding. Before returning to station, Hull also transferred boiler feedwater to help the ship to maintain boiler operation. Later, the damage forced her to shut down her propulsion plant and ask USS Robison for a tow.[1]

Throughout the night of July 17 and 18, the crew struggled against flooding caused by ruptured fuel oil and fresh water tanks, but she remained afloat. The next morning Robison turned the tow over to USS Reclaimer (ARS-42) for the first leg of the passage to Subic Bay. On July 20, USS Tawakoni (ATF-114) took over the tow from Reclaimer and arriving in Subic Bay on July 24. Throughout the six-day passage, Warrington’s crew worked to control the flooding and keep their ship afloat.[1][5]

Once the ship was back at Subic Bay, the Navy’s initial intent was to repair the ship and return her to service, but in August, an inspection and survey found her to be unfit for further naval service. Warrington was decommissioned on September 30, in Subic Bay.

The empty and deserted Warrington (DD 843) awaiting her final fate in Subic Bay, Philippines.*

“ A stark reminder of what could happen .” My ship USS Rich (DD 820) docked on November 18, 1972 at the Subic Bay Naval Station in Subic Bay Harbor at 0710. The ship would remain in Subic Bay for six days while making the necessary preparations and alterations to enter the combat zone of Vietnam. From our berth, USS Warrington was clearly visible where she was moored at another berth in the ship repair facility. The ship was abandoned now and had a mystic look about her similar to that of an empty and deserted old house.

The now deserted and dark USS Warrington stood as a stark reminder to me and many in our crew of what could happen to any ship operating in the waters along Vietnam’s coast…To read “Striking Eight Bells,” use one of the following links to various booksellers: Amazon.com: Books, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, BAM –Books A Million and Smashword.com eBooks.

The stories in these posts and the book “Striking Eight Bells: A Vietnam Memoir,” reflect the author’s recollection of events. Some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed to protect the privacy of those depicted. Dialogue has been recreated from memory. Dates, times, and locations were recreated from declassified U.S. Navy records and others. Photographs used are either public domain or owned by the author. Illustrations and maps used were either created by the author or in the public domain. The stories in these posts and the book are solely the opinion of the author and not the publisher, Richter Publishing, LLC.

*Image was found in public domain or it could not be established after reasonable search, that any claim existed to the image. Image used for illustrative purposes only and is not the property of the author. Where ever possible credit for the image is indicated in the caption.

Reclaimer ARS-42 - History

I attended Second Class Divers School in San Diego, California, in August, 1975. I took leave for three weeks prior to the school commencement date and dedicated myself to physical training and conditioning in San Diego near my apartment. I ran seven continuous 7-minute miles every day in 49 minutes time at the local high school running track for two weeks. I also engaged in vigorous physical exercises, performing hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups daily during this time. I reduced my bodyweight down from 200 pounds to 190 pounds of lean, solid muscle. I quit drinking beer and focused only on the best dietary eating practices, which included lots of beefsteak, eggs, milk and potatoes.

I was expecting a brutal physical training regimen like I had experienced in the fall of 1973, at the Coronado Silver Strand BUD/S UDT Camp at the Naval Amphibious Base on the other side of San Diego Bay. All of my physical training was way over the top, as the Second-Class Divers School was nothing like UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TRAINING. In Second-Class Divers School, the focus was on actual diving and not ultra-endurance physical conditioning to prepare for behind the enemy lines guerilla warfare tactic operations.

I breezed through the school and had a great time. Needless to say, I was already a well-experienced diver and had a good working diving knowledge equivalent to the instructor staff, so the course curriculum was easy for me. Most of the men in the class had zero diving experience prior to this course.

My Commanding Officer at the school was the Director, R. G. Brereton, who had been my Executive Officer at BUD/S Training at the Coronado Amphibious Base. He was also a certified N.A.U.I. Underwater SCUBA Instructor. We got along very well and he was instrumental in awarding me the Honor Graduate citation.


San Diego, California 92133

From: Director, Naval School Diver Second Class


Subj: Honor Graduate designation of

1. It is pleasure to inform you that you have been selected as the Honor

Graduate of Divers Second Class Training ( A-433-0022 ) Class 7601 conducted

11 August 1975 — 17 October 1975. Selection was highly competitive and was

based on your performance as follows.

a. Assiduous application under continued stress resulting in outstanding

physical and academic achievement.

b. Responsible, concerned and selfless dedication as a Diving student.

c. Impressive military appearance with unbounded enthusiasm in action

2. Your personal record of motivation and military behavior was extraordinary

and your action urged others on to notable accomplishments when they felt

further persistence impossible. Your overall performance during a most rigorous

and demanding schedule has been impressive to others, and should be enduring

source of pride to yourself.

3. Congratulations from your classmates and your instructor staff at the

Naval School Diver Second Class, San Diego, California.

2 nd Class Diver Curriculum

2. Physical examination and O2 tolerance test

3. Swimming Qualification Test

4. Tending the diver and communications

5. Principles of Diving Physics

6. Air Decompression Tables and Decompression Procedures

7. The Recompression Chamber and Associated equipment

8. Trainee participation in recompression chamber runs

9. Divers diseases and injuries

10. Treatment of divers’ diseases and injuries

11. Anatomy and physiology related to diving

12. Primary and secondary effects of pressure

14. Toxic gases in enclosed spaces

15. Effects of underwater blasts on the human body

20. Open-circuit Scuba swimming

21. Open water swimming with Scuba

22. Scuba descent, 130 feet

24. Indoctrination to lightweight diving

25. Lightweight diving procedures and techniques

26. Underwater work using Lightweight diving

27. Lightweight diving mask repair

28. Introduction to deep sea diving

29. Deep sea diving outfits function and nomenclature

31. Deep sea diving techniques and procedures

32. Familiarization diving in deep sea diving equipment

33. Formula application pressure computation and air supply

34. Underwater work advanced

35. Use of tools underwater

36. Practical application in the use of tools underwater

37. Introduction to underwater cutting

38. Oxygen Arc cutting techniques

39. Practical application of oxygen-ARC method of underwater cutting

40. Introduction to underwater welding

41. Underwater welding equipment

42. Practical underwater welding

43. Marlinspike seamanship

44. Practical application of marlinspike seamanship

45. Fundamentals of salvage machinery

46. Operation of machinery related to diving

49. Lifeline and air hose repair

51. Qualification dive to 150 feet

After graduation I received orders for service in the Pacific Seventh Fleet Salvors Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I served aboard two AUXILIARY RESCUE AND SALVAGE SHIPS (ARS) moored at the Alpha Docks adjacent to Hickam Air Force Base just outside of the Pearl Harbor Channel. The USS RECLAIMER ARS-42, and the USS GRAPPEL ARS-7. Both ships were 213 feet long, built during WORLD WAR TWO, and designed for heavy marine salvage and ocean towing operations. A full ship’s company consisted of 78 men, including the Captain and all Officers.

Salvage operations were always an all-hands-on-deck routine and quite difficult to manage in the tropical Hawaiian Island temperatures due to the nature of the heavy equipment involved. It was a tough job. Small ships and small crews mean lots of duty watches to stand underway and in port, so the Salvors Navy was very tough duty.

I reapplied and qualified again for the UDT BUD/S Training Camp at Coronado. I figured that once I made it through the 24-week program it would be good times and lots of great diving with UDT. I even extended my enlistment to go back to the Frog Farm and meet the huge physical challenge. Maybe I would run ten or twelve 7-minute miles every day in training to get in super shape for the course rigors. However, an unexpected set back occurred late one night when we hit a city bus returning from Honolulu, heading back to Pearl Harbor. I received some broken leg bones. It was dark thirty, and we were tired, and I had the duty watch in the early morning on board ship. Things that go bump in the night and being caught between a rock and a hard place usually really hurt.

After that accident, I opted out of continuing in the Navy diving program courses and got discharged from active duty to become a certified N.A.U.I. Underwater Diving Instructor. I worked for Tom Hemphill teaching diving for a number of years at his SCUBA Shop in Hazel Dell, Washington, called UNDERWATER SPORTS.

The primary reason I joined the Navy was to advance my diving career knowledge, because at that time, my age prohibited me from becoming a certified underwater instructor. Later, the age requirement changed from 21 years old to 18 years old for instructor certification.

I learned and experienced many things in the Navy during my almost four years of active duty. The Navy diving opportunities were excellent and I really enjoyed the classes and training dives, where I learned many new and interesting diving techniques. It was definitely a worthwhile experience in my life. “Eternal vigilance is the price of safety at sea.” It is also the price of liberty in the face of oppressive government usurping constitutional bounds under the pretext of a national emergency.

The Saga of the Triumph’s Propeller

To qualify as a Sea Story – This ain’t no shit since truth is stranger than fiction.

The story begins in December 1998 with contact by Doug Foulds who had a tugboat hull to donate to the Edmonds Underwater Park. He owned a marina in Washington Harbor, Bremerton and had a tenant who has failed to pay his moorage. But that was not the issue as the Triumph had sunk and was refloated. The Triumph had been a live aboard for about 5 years and was salvaged and currently floating again but it was obvious that this tug had become an issue as the Coast Guard was involved in the recovery. The owner was now dodging all contact. It had changed owners early in 1998 with the new owner being a flake. I mentioned I was interested in the hull and he had found out about me via the City of Edmonds who was neutral about being involved unless I thought it was a good idea. The City and I had discussed having some feature to replace the Fossil (the FOSS 16) which we had placed in 1982 which was long decayed. This was a way to get divers farther north away from the ferry terminal and our efforts had stalled.

The City was completing the revised paperwork which had already been started for a Park hull replacement (which had begun in fall 1997) and Doug took over ownership as it sank again and was refloated we visited the Triumph in Bremerton. This time refloating ruining the dock and in this salvage the bow port cleat had damaged the deck during recovery so there was now a hole. The hole was about three feet in diameter in the deck. The hull was floating but was now covered with a blue tarp on top, on port side underwater and plastic sheeting underwater on the other to keep the leaking to a minimum. What had happened was in both cases the rains had over come the plugged bilge pumps and just filled with water and sank. Doug now had ownership and it had a much better bilge pump. We were encouraged as it was well practiced at sinking.

In our discussions about placement we visited the hull a couple more times as Doug hired a crew to strip it and cart off the mildewing drywall, clothes, and just junk which was left behind. We had made arrangements to make sure all the glass was out and had made a trip to help open the ship up for diver access. More access was needed so we cut away.

We also had elected to make the hull a photo opportunity by leaving some portholes, running gear, and the propeller. It still had the engine block in it which was why it was still heavy enough to sink but the engine head was off and someone had been seriously working on getting it going again but that effort had stalled but tools were everywhere. We elected to let the clean up crew leave things like the two bow facing portholes and much of the brass but we removed doors, glass, and anything which would cause permitting issues. Doug was handing the cost and labor for this which was a great gift to the City and the diving community. We spent time just making sure every compartment had a separate way in and out.

To zoom headed the hull at about 70 feet was towed to the Park by the harbor tug the Little David which was only 25 feet long which took about 11 hours with the tide. It was secured by the bow to the north which had a 750# navy style anchor and a 500# Danforth backed up with two 500# lamp post bases to make sure the anchors would not drag. For the stern to the south we had tied that to a 101 ton block of concrete which was part of the Cathedrals. We had issues with anchor drag during the Fossil placement so worked to avoid that this time. Placement was just by removing the tarps that covered the hull. The water rushed in through the seams like Niagara Falls Filling the hull took about an hour as it settled lower and lower. Sorry no explosions. The City wanted no news coverage and we lucked out as Present Clinton came to town that AM, what timing. The City of Edmonds Police Divers came to check it out and confirm it was as described. It ended up resting on its’ port side just leaning offshore.

On the bottom I had hoped that the portholes and other nautical things we had left behind would be photo opportunities. About month after placement I was graced with visit by Jerry Gray and Mark Schneider who came up to visit and see what I was up too. That was nice and even with less than ideal visibility they had a great time.

We spent the summer adding ballast to the hull since we were concerned it would not do well in the winter storms and the summer showed the divers true colors with the theft of both portholes was well as many other smaller items. But one still remained and that was an about 3-foot diameter propeller next to the rudder which still made for great photo opportunities. Also, that summer Kirby who had not traveled to Bremerton decided to measure and document the ship using the techniques we had learned at an underwater archeology class hosted by the UASBC in Vancouver, BC. Of course, not the easy way, but while it was on the bottom. He followed up with a beautiful drawing of the Triumph. We all pitched in on trying to help with the Triumph’s history. The ship was built in Coos Bay in 1888 as a bar tug with the skipper standing in the open on the stern. Some fire bricks from the original steam boiler were still on the inside of the hull.

To zoom ahead again to late spring of 2001, we were doing a Saturday inspection dive around the Triumph as things were decaying and we wanted to make sure all would be safe for the summer season. We came across a 10-foot piece of 2-inch steel pipe which was bent resting on the bottom off the starboard side. A few minutes later Kirby showed me a wrench looking thing resting to west on the port side. It was metal homemade wrench painted yellow. We signaled each other that we would discuss this later. These parts were not from the Triumph. After the dive we puzzled out what was going on so on Sunday we got out again and this time I took the wrench and bar which I hid nearby after confirming our suspicions as the propeller retaining nut was shiny. We suspect that an effort was made to remove the nut holding the propeller to claim it. Our guess was that the wrench was placed on the nut and the pipe used as an extension with a lift bag used to twist the nut. The pipe was bent a lot, so they gave it what they had on hand. More on this part later.

I approached the City about the attempted theft and they really just handed it back to me since they had no way to cope with the issue. That led to the next weekend us getting a bag of premix concrete and placing it in a sandbag then placing this over the nut on the propeller labeled City of Edmonds Parks Dept secured it with rope. We also had Ralph Sweet place a cable from the propeller to the rudder and lock that in place. The premix would cure overnight. We had hoped that would be the end of the issue and went about our business coping with buoys and trails. I had contacted a salvage yard about what a brass propeller might be worth given the dimensions. The answer I got was maybe about $700 to $800 as just metal but likely over $4,000 as a feature piece in a bar or hotel lobby.

A few weeks later we were passing by the Triumph again and as we approached the stern I saw what looked like cigarette butts lying on the bottom. Maybe about a dozen or more scattered about. I picked one up and remembered it looked like the cutting torch stubs left by my old dive buddy Jim McGinnis from my college days. This led me to look closer and I could see someone had now resorted to a cutting touch to try to burn off the propeller shaft. The lock had been hacked but put back in place to hide that and so we had to reconsider our efforts since they were not giving up.

Back on shore we needed to hatch a plan to deal with this. Lots of ideas were floated but it all boiled down to us needing to be first. During the week I accumulated a number of hacksaws, bunch of blades, and made up a deep throat hacksaw to be able to finish the job. The shaft seemed to be at least 4 inches in diameter. We also elected to dive in relay so we could start Saturday AM and cycle though everyone in like 30 minutes shifts both sawing and assisting as I suspected correctly arms would get tired as well as divers getting cold just using one arm for such a long time. Some divers took two shifts. We also had some ankle weights to substitute for the lower diver on the saw. We had also puzzled out that the early effort had gotten about halfway (using ‘write in the rain’ paper as a template) and we suspected it was because the shaft looked brass but was actually a brass sleeve over a steel center.

With a plan in place we started the next Saturday AM and worked on it about seven and a half hours and made good progress but still no dice. We had made great headway, but it was a lot of metal for our manual methods. On Sunday Kirby and I returned to see if we could finish the effort. I started with a 30 minute or so shift and then traded off to Kirby as I went to get the three lift drums (55 gal, 1,500# of lift) which we would use to relocate the propeller once it was free and to trade out cylinders. As I returned to the Triumph, as if on cue, Kirby had finished, and it just fell away. Next up was to rig it to get it out from under the hull which was not too big a chore since we had done that kind of lifting before. We also had extra lift so we could slide and then lift it without re-rigging. The propeller came in at about 700#. Now with the propeller floating we headed to a secrete spot to place it and have it hidden from view. The current was with us which was a nice change of pace. We lined up a house on the beach and placed it shallow enough that it would not be accessible by boat as likely the other group would likely need that to get it off site. The spot was so secret that Kirby could not find it the following weekend. I knew it was safe. We all wanted to see the surprise on their face to see that it was no longer where they had left it. Sorry not for giveaway.

But there is a hitch to the story. Back when we found the wrench, and everyone heard Kirby’s and my puzzling out what likely happen. We had all bought into the wrench and extension bar with lift bag idea as to what had happened and that the pieces got left behind since that approach had failed. The way the ship leaned to the port and the bar being on the starboard where there was clear access for a lift bag to stretch upward toward the surface. They likely had spent a lot of time fooling around but the nut just did not budge. In reality they had a great idea, but they had a fatal flaw which Kirby pointed out. My take had been that after so many years the nut was really locked in place. But Kirby reminded us all that this was to be a servable part. In his research the Triumph was a special tug in that during its’ later years the direct drive diesel ran best in reverse due to old age and bearings, so it was outfitted with a left handed propeller. This translated into the group spending all this time tightening the nut not loosening it. The moral of the story is that it pays to do your homework. Many thanks Kirby.

Since we were casting up anchors later that year, we placed the homemade wrench in one as a keepsake and project reminder. The rudder is still proudly on display.

Bold Diving in Deep Water

By all accounts, Tommy Amerman was a bold diver. He broke into the commercial diving field with a daring feat that no other diver at the time could accomplish. He penetrated a sunken dredge in the wave breakers zone of the Clatsop Spit on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Bar and extracted a dead body from the wreck. He achieved success on his second dive. The first attempt was unsuccessful because he was told to search in the wrong part of the ship. The second day, diving at slack water tide, he entered the sunken vessel, found the body of the drown crewman inside, and pulled his body from the wreckage, delivering it to the topside personnel standing by to receive it.

Hard Hat divers had spent weeks trying to do what Tommy had done in two dives. The constant wave action, tremendous currents, and shifting surges of sea water thwarted every effort made by the Hard Hat divers to recover the body. The access doors on the main deck superstructure violently crashed back and forth against the bulkheads making a tremendous racket. Their equipment was too heavy and cumbersome to deal with, and they were unable to even successfully approach the wreck, let alone penetrate it and recover the lost crewman’s body.

After Tommy’s tremendous accomplishment, the US Army Corps of Engineers felt obligated to reward his herculean effort with additional diving contract work whenever Tommy desired to pursue it.

Harold Maiken, the owner of Commercial Divers Incorporated, one of the two major construction diving contractors in Portland, Oregon, had Tommy under contract as a SCUBA diver doing commercial diving work. The Hard Hat divers did not like the SCUBA equipped diver infringing upon their once sacred employment ground. Tommy worked circles around the Hard Hat divers and they just couldn’t compete with him. He would dive in all different conditions and always get the job done quickly and completely. Very soon, all the working divers in the Pacific Northwest began using SCUBA equipment to perform their commercial diving jobs. The Mark V Deep Sea Diving Outfit was made obsolete overnight by Tommy Amerman and his heroic deed.

Other ambitious SCUBA equipped commercial divers began to join Harold Maiken’s team of divers. These included Paul Mark and Bud Sanders. Harold Maiken got the contract from the Corps for the diving work on the John Day Dam. Tommy, Bud and Paul did virtually all the diving work on the John Day Dam from beginning to end. The job lasted from 1959 to 1962.

In 1962, Paul Mark and Bud Sanders got the diving contract work for De Long Construction on the four year long project building the Astoria Bridge across the mighty Columbia from Oregon to Washington. The Hard Hat equipped divers could not function near the mouth of the Columbia River except during slack water tide, and then only for about 30 minutes, four times a day, two in daylight and two in darkness according to the tides. Colonel De Long was going bankrupt waiting for slack water, until Paul and Bud came down after a snag diving shift and showed him that they could do the job in the current with their SCUBA equipment. Again, the Hard Hat divers were superseded by working SCUBA equipped divers.

It was during the Astoria Bridge construction project, about 1965, that this story took place. Tommy Amerman and Ed Forsyth were assigned to complete a diving contract awarded to Harold Maiken of Commercial Divers Incorporated. The job appeared to be rather easy up front. Dive to the bottom of a high Cascade dam reservoir in the central Washington Cascades and set dynamite charges on four old growth timber trees to blow them off the bottom and send them floating to the surface.

For super diver Tommy Amerman, this was just another day at the office, in about 35 fathoms of water. Eddie Forsyth was Tommy’s diving tender. The two of them loaded all the equipment, demolition charges and accessories, air compressors, twin SCUBA bottle packs and other diving equipment, a single man recompression chamber, light weight diving skiff with outboard motor, and headed up to the high Cascades of Washington State to do the job.

Tommy had decided early on that he could do this easy dive job in one day instead of four days. What’s the big deal? Dive down a couple of hundred feet in this clear water mountain reservoir lake and set some charges at the base of four big old growth fir trees. Cakewalk!

Tommy and Ed arrived at the job site and set up a base camp for diving operations. They loaded all the dive gear in the boat and launched it at the convenient boat ramp not too far from the dive site. Tommy quickly suited up in his wet suit, while Ed got his diving equipment assembled and ready to go.

They got out over the big trees on the surface of the lake and Eddie anchored the boat with a long descending line leading straight down to the bottom. There was no current to speak of in this lake reservoir, and the conditions for diving were perfect. A beautiful early fall day with clear blue sky, lots of sunshine and no wind. What could be better than this?

Ed helped Tommy get his twin 65 cubic foot air tanks and back pack on and buckled up, along with his weight belt adjusted with very little lead on it because of the deep water diving assignment. At two hundred feet of depth, even in the less dense fresh water, the water pressure is so great that more than 100 pounds per square inch of pressure pushes in over the entire diver’s body. The ¼ inch thick neoprene wet suit material is compressed down to about the same thickness as a piece of newspaper. At that depth, the wet suit provides absolutely no additional buoyancy for the diver and the weight belt is no longer necessary. It also provides about zero insulating warmth for the diver. That’s why Tommy only had about ten pounds of lead on his weight belt.

Tommy was ready to go and made a seated back roll over the side of the small boat into the lake reservoir. The water temperature at the surface was quite pleasant, having been warmed up all season long by the hot summer sun. Descending rapidly down to the reservoir bottom, Tommy passed through more than four thermoclines of decreasing water temperature. The water temperature at the lake bottom in 200 feet of water was quite cold, less than 45 degrees.

As he descended, he could see the big trees below him, with their needle-less large branches and the massive tree trunks underneath. He continued to pop his ears and equalize air pressure as he swam down rapidly to the bottom using his swim fins and powerful leg muscles. Time underwater is very critical, and especially in deep diving. He did not want to waste even a minute making his first dive.

In the meanwhile, Eddie was up in the boat keeping track of Tommy’s bottom time with his Rolex Oyster Perpetual Diver wrist watch using the elapsed time ring rotating bezel. The no decompression limits end at one hundred and ninety feet of depth. Beyond that, you are decompression diving, which means you must stop your ascent at 20 feet of depth for about ten minutes to decompress underwater before coming directly to the surface in order to prevent decompression sickness, also known as the bends. It is called the bends, because divers bend over in pain from the excruciating painful madness of nitrogen bubbles exploding inside their body tissues and blocking normal blood flow circulation. Not a pretty picture.

Ed didn’t really have to worry much about Tommy getting the bends, because Tommy was a superman and a super diver! The no decompression diving time limits, the decompression diving tables, and the repetitive diving tables for underwater divers breathing compressed air did not really apply to Tommy Amerman. They had been developed by the United States Navy long ago and were considered to be 95% accurate for the standard U.S. Navy Diver. Tommy was not bound to adhere to these diving tables and their prescribed limitations, because he was superior in all aspects to those lowly U.S. Navy Divers. He was a diver of no limits, and the Navy Diving Tables just didn’t apply to him.

Underwater diving to 200 feet of depth or deeper is considered to be an extreme exposure dive. High altitude diving is also more critical for decompression because of the reduction in surface atmospheric pressure. Extreme cold water, fatigue, physical stress and heavy work will also severely increase nitrogen absorption in divers which makes them more susceptible to the bends. The more volume of compressed air you breathe underwater, the greater the intake will be of absorbed nitrogen saturating into your body tissues and bloodstream. All of these conditions existed on this dive job and none of them were in Tommy’s favor. Tommy didn’t care!

Tommy reached the bottom and placed the pre-packed demolition charges around the base of the first old growth fir tree very quickly. “Take your time, do your best, but hurry every chance you get,” was the U.S. Navy Divers motto for working underwater with the conventional Mark V Deep Sea Diving Outfit. Tommy was on SCUBA, and he was a fast, hard worker underwater, and he had proven time after time that he was the diver that could get the job done, bar none!

He quickly headed back up to the surface to get the next demolition packs for the next tree. Eddie was there to assist him with his SCUBA gear. Tommy climbed aboard and quickly donned a fresh pair of SCUBA bottles, buckling up the back pack straps, and over the side he went.

He swam quickly back to the bottom and set the charges at the base of the next tree. He was feeling good and the time underwater had been pretty fast, so things appeared to be going according to plan.

He quickly returned directly to the surface and got another pair of tanks and loaded up with the demolition packs and returned to the bottom of the lake. As with the other two trees, he set the demolition packs around the tree base of the third tree and then quickly headed for the surface. On this third ascent, at about fifty feet of depth, Tommy began to discern that something was not quite right. As he got closer to the surface, much to his chagrin, he began to realize that he had developed a bad case of decompression sickness.

When he broke the surface of the lake at the side of the boat, he said to Eddie, “I’ve got ‘em and I’ve got ‘em bad!”

Eddie quickly flew into action. He got Tommy on board and headed for the beach. He got Tommy out of the boat and into the single man recompression chamber as fast as he could.

The single man recompression chamber was situated upon the trailer, and the air compressor that charged the system was located close by the trailer. Ed got Tommy inside the chamber and closed the heavy access door and dogged it down.

These small recompression chambers are called coffin chambers, because they are about the same size as and resemble a coffin. They are quite small. Once you are lying on your back inside one of these pressure vessels, it is a very tight fit with no extra room to spare. If you suffer from any claustrophobic feelings and fear of tight places, then you never want to crawl inside one of these contraptions. Once you are inside, it is nearly impossible to move and there is no way out unless your diving tender opens the door and lets you out!

Ed fired up the air compressor, opened the valves and started sending compressed air into the coffin chamber. Tommy was in a very bad condition, having omitted decompression from three back to back dives to 200 feet of depth. Even with his short bottom times and rapid work, he still neglected to decompress and the dissolved nitrogen in his tissues bubbled up, as the reduced ambient pressure at the surface allowed the compressed extra absorbed inert gas to be released from pressurized solution.

Think of a soda pop bottle slightly shaken on a warm day and then having the pop top unstopped rapidly. It usually makes a mess, as the soda pop overflows over the top of the bottle. Now think of Tommy’s body as that soda pop bottle overflowing with too much internalized pressure.

The air compressor fired right up and air pressure started flowing into the chamber to recompress Tommy and give him some very necessary instant relief from his pain. However, something was not right. The air compressor was running and the air was flowing into the chamber, but the inside chamber pressure was not increasing.

Eddie started looking around and listening over the roar of the air compressor engine and he realized that one of the through hull fittings on the chamber was missing. All the air that was being compressed and blown into the chamber with the main air line was bleeding right back out of the chamber through the missing valve hole.

Ed started scrambling around at a feverish pace trying to find something to plug that hole. He quickly located a wooden shovel handle, sawed off a short piece, whittled the dowel with his knife to fit the diameter of the hole, and pounded it into place with a hammer from the tool box.

Immediately, the chamber started to gain air pressure. Tommy popped his ears as the inside pressure rapidly increased. Eddie got the chamber atmosphere air pressure compressed to 190 feet of depth equivalent and Tommy got relief from his pain, torture and agony.

Now the long ordeal began to treat Tommy for his decompression sickness which resulted from his three repetitive 200 feet deep dives and the omitted decompression.

Recompression pressure squeezes the nitrogen bubbles back into solution form in the body tissues and restores normal circulation. Once this occurs, the pain disappears in the body of the affected diver. The air pressure is then gradually reduced inside the chamber and eventually the diver returns to topside atmospheric pressure, cured of his bends barotraumas. The process is quite lengthy and requires several hours to complete properly.

Ed was working steady as the dedicated tender taking care of his injured diver. He kept the air compressor fueled and running, gave Tommy mandatory fresh air ventilations for two out of every five minutes inside the recompression chamber, while always watching the clock and keeping track of the required pressure reductions and timed stops as prescribed by the treatment table requirements.

With Tommy’s extreme pressure exposure from the multiple deep dives, plus the high altitude factor, the treatment called for four hours of slow decompression. After about three hours of close quarter confinement within the dark coffin chamber, needless to say, Tommy was becoming quite agitated. Tommy was a very strong man. He stood about 5’9” tall, and weighed about 235 pounds of solid muscle. He was what one would call the original “Water Gorilla.’ Even his name implied that he was a Merman, one born to live and breathe underwater and accomplish heroic feats beyond the pale of mere mortals. Tommy started making it very clear to Eddie that he was at the end of his rope. Being confined to this little coffin chamber for decompression sickness treatment that he no longer had, and perhaps never really did have, he now wanted out! He started kicking at the chamber access door with his wet suit boot clad feet. Eddie wasn’t even thinking about letting him out of there until he had completed the full course of the decompression treatment table, no way!

Well, with Tommy Amerman, the rules of diving just didn’t really apply. He was a Merman, and those rules applied to mere mortals and basic humans, not to the Super Diver. So Tommy continued to kick at the access door on the chamber. He kicked and he kicked and the longer he thought about it, the madder he got. It was a disgrace to even think that Tommy would find himself entrapped and enslaved in a tiny iron coffin for so long just to treat a mild or even nonexistent case of the bends. Eventually he prevailed and he kicked the door off the chamber and escaped out of that miserable iron coffin! He did not complete his entire decompression treatment, but with Tommy, enough was enough and he just wanted out.

The sad ending to this story is that this event effectively ended Tommy Amerman’s commercial diving career.

This particular decompression sickness episode was not the first in his diving career. He worked with Paul Mark and Bud Sanders on the John Day Dam construction project. He would dive the first four hour shift while Paul and Bud tended him, and then Bud and Paul would split the next four hour shift, diving two hours each while the other one worked as the diver’s tender. Tommy was known to stop at the Bonneville Dam recompression chamber on his way back to Portland and soak out for a quick decompression treatment on more than one occasion. Even though Tommy ignored the limits and believed that he was not confined to them as other divers were, he still periodically got the bends.

The old growth subaquatic timber harvest turned out to be a test for the diving application and feasibility of such in this deep water task. Ed Forsyth told me that remote controlled surface operation technology had already been developed by the company that contracted with Harold Maiken. Tree removal via a remote controlled surface operation circumvented any requirement for divers. The decompression sickness episode that developed on this dive job made it clear that surface remote control operations in at least some applications were beginning to supersede divers.

The extreme depth and high altitude made this type of diving operation too dangerous to be profitable. . Tommy and Ed did their best and tried to deliver a good show, but events and circumstances played out differently. Severe health issues and the result of living life in the fast lane took its toll on Tommy, and he died about ten years later.

Ed Forsyth continued diving and took over the ownership of Commercial Divers Incorporated from Harold Maiken. He had a long and illustrious diving career, performing many difficult jobs and completing many very challenging contracts. Ed, Paul Mark and Bud Sanders never got decompression sickness during their entire diving careers. Although they were all very strong men and excellent professional divers, they realized that there were limitations to physical diving exposures, and they all respected those limitations and took care to remain well within the recommended normal deep diving decompression requirements. During snag diving shifts that may last the entire six hour ebb tide, they used the three tank rule dive limit. When they had blown through three fully charges SCUBA 2500psi 65 cubic feet bottles, they ended their repetitive diving shift for that day. That was known as the three tank rule, and they never got the bends using that rule. Although they were all “Water Gorillas” in their own right, they never professed to be Mermen like Tommy Amerman.

“There are old divers and there are bold divers, but there ain’t no old bold divers.”

“Don’t let too much “Can Do!” do you in!”

Author’s Note: This story was told to me personally by Ed Forsyth more than 35 years ago. Some facts, figures and incidents may have been added to, changed and/or embellished in the interest of presenting a readable article with the reserved right and excuse of the author’s creative license. Suffice to say, this historical event occurred and the divers included were real flesh and blood, living men who walked upon planet earth for their joyous season of life.

Dick List, Northwest Diving Pioneer

Introduction by Tom Hemphill

Dick List is a Northwest diving pioneer and contributor to the development of NW diving education. He is also a good friend of mine. we’ve had some exciting diving experiences together from diving the north end of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada to many sites around Puget sound & the San Juan Islands to Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.

Dick took diving class at Portland State University in 1973–74 from Garland Trzynka, who was his swim coach from a few years before. Dick was coaching the PSU springboard diving team and one of his students needed a buddy to take a Scuba diving class, so he signed up.

Dick says, “training in the pool was fun and the open water dives were held up at Edmonds. I remember getting all my gear on and then snorkeling out to the wreck. When the instructor told us to put our regulators in our mouth and start descending, I thought to myself, “I hope this stuff works”. As I went down below the surface I felt like I was going into a different world – sort of like slipping from consciousness to sub consciousness. The dive was peaceful, eye opening and weirdly thrilling at the same time. I was instantly hooked. When I got back to shore, I walked right up to the instructor and said, “that was fun, how do I become an instructor?”

His next step was to help out with a PADI instructor named Bill Petty. He assisted Bill for a few classes and a few open water weekends. Then Dick took a job in Vancouver, Washington at The Green Meadows Country Club. That’s where Dick and I met when I walked in and asked if I could use the pool for scuba lessons. That was 1975 and we’ve been friends since.

I coached Dick and he assisted me for a few months, and then I took him to Port Townsend to attend a NAUI Instructor Training course, 9 days of intense training and testing. Dick was an experienced teacher, a water person, a great diver and he did great at the course. We worked together at my dive store in Vancouver, WA from 1975-1983. One of our highlight experiences came when Dick returned from his trip to the Red Sea where he had learned to windsurf. I had just made arrangements with a couple of suppliers and a rep to bring in sailboards, sails and accessories, but what I needed was an instructor. I got my staff together and asked if anyone knew anything about windsurfing and Dick said that he had taken lessons on his trip to the Red Sea. I said “great – now you are our instructor.”

I have fond memories of my first windsurfing adventure with Dick to Vancouver Lake. It took us about 10 minutes to sail across the lake. The wind was perfect. Then it took us two hours to paddle back because we forgot to learn how to tack back and fourth against the wind. Later Dick finally figured it out and I went back to diving. We’ve had other adventures together, but I save those for another time.

Dick’s Adventures and Sea Stories:

My diving highlights include the trip we took to Port Hardy, a 2 week vacation to the Red Sea where I happened to learn to windsurf, a one week trip to Palau for Penny’s (Dick’s wife) ex-husband’s wedding, 10 days on a 100’ sail boat in Fiji, the Cayman islands trip with Tom, and the best diving ever in the Maldive Islands. When I got to the Maldives, the dive guide there said that my first dive would have to be inside the reef because the previous few days had been stormy, and the water was churned up. The guide told me not to expect too much from the first dive because the really good stuff was outside the reef. So, almost reluctantly, I went along for a 40’ dive around a small cone shaped reef inside the main reef. It was the most spectacular dive I had ever had! Amazing coral colors and more varieties of fish than I had seen in all my other tropical dives put together. The next day we went outside the reef and true to the guide’s word, the diving was even better. Much better! It included a school of blue fish about 10 – 12 inches long that swam by me for something like 5 whole minutes and a seemingly domesticated Manta Ray that had a wing span of about 20 feet. And that’s no shit!”

Always Dive with a Buddy

Charley was one of my scuba students back in the 70’s. He really enjoyed diving and soon bought a 26 foot sailboat and invited me to spend a couple weeks with him exploring the San Juan Islands. He expected that we would catch a lot of sea food as I had told him of my many previous trips to the San Juan’s where I had brought home a big ice chest full of fish, crab, abalone, and shrimp. Accordingly, the only provisions he took along on the boat seemed to be butter, lemons and bread crumbs. So, off we went to Anacortes, launched the boat and headed out on our memorable vacation.

After a couple of days meandering around the islands, we ended up at Matia Island just north of Orcas. Charley had hurt his back the previous day and wanted to rest for a few days before getting back in the water. We were running out of sea food and he asked me if I minded diving solo since he didn’t want to skip any meals. Neither did I, so down I went on the south side of the island to a spot that I knew to be a fairly reliable place to find Ling cod.

Down around 50 feet or so, I saw a medium sized Ling and was able to spear it. I hooked it to the stringer on my belt and went off to find something for Charley. Only moments later another Ling appeared and again I was successful in shooting it and stringing it on my belt. I continued along and soon noticed a shark swimming by. It was a small one, about 3 feet. I paid it little mind and before long managed to procure a small rock fish and again attached it to my stringer. When I looked up I saw 3 more sharks ranging from 2 to 5 feet in length. I was a little startled but kept on way. After a short swim there appeared to be several more shark following behind me. Some of them looked pretty big. Now it was time to take some precautionary measures. I headed back to my starting point, ascended up to the boat and gave Charley my catch of fish. I told him about the sharks and that I was sure they were following me because they smelled the blood from the fish that were on my stringer. Then I made my first mistake. I told him the fishing was so good I was going back down to stock up on a few more Lings.

It wasn’t long before I spotted a good-sized Ling, shot it and put on my stringer, After a few more minutes of hunting I looked around and was shocked to see about 20 – 30 sharks. It didn’t take long for them to smell the fish I had just speared, and the word obviously had spread rapidly among them. I had been diving in San Juan’s for many years and had never encountered more than 1 or 2 sharks. I guess this was my lucky day.

It was time to head back along the bottom toward the boat. On the way back, I made the difficult but wise decision to jettison the Ling from my belt and remove the incentive that was causing the sharks to follow me. No dice. It only took a few minutes before a whole school of sharks appeared whose numbers had increased now to what seemed to be hundreds. They must have somehow sensed that it was I who was going to provide their next meal – one way or another. Ironically, I was beginning to feel a little like a fish in a barrel.

When I reached the spot that I figured was just below Charley and the sailboat, I started what I knew would be a scary ascent. As long as I was on the bottom, I could look up, see them and hopefully fend off any attackers with my spear gun. As I started up, the sharks quickly surrounded me, and I watched helplessly as they menacingly circled around me. Okay, now I admitted to being a little frightened. I had heard somewhere that sharks have a “tell“ when they’re about to attack. They lower their pectoral fins and dart in and out at their intended prey, the exact behavior I was witnessing. I told myself just what I had told numerous students in the past. “When there are sharks around (I never imagined there would be so many or that it would be me in this dire situation) stay calm, don’t make any sudden movements and as a last resort, take your knife out, stab your buddy in the leg and swim to safety.” But I didn’t have a buddy. Where was Charley when I needed him? He was safely sitting up in the boat, probably day dreaming about the fish he was going to have for lunch while I was down 50′ feet below with a million sharks (O.K. maybe only a few hundred – this is a fish story after all) dreaming about what they were going to have for lunch. And they sure did look hungry.

There I was, vicious sharks all around, above and below me, trying my best to not to panic and barely succeeding. Using only my buoyancy compensator, I kept my ascent rate very slow, trying to move as little as possible – although at this point I don’t think there was much I could do to avoid an attack if any of those man-eaters decided it was lunch time. The ascent seemed to take forever but, in reality, it was only about a minute. During that time, my anxiety level rose to high red alert as I watched this gray mass of predators swooping around with evil malice in their eyes, moving in closer and closer. Cue the theme song from Jaws.

Finally, I surfaced and what I had thought would be a relief, instantly became a nightmare. Charley and the sailboat were gone! I quickly swirled around scanning the horizon and saw the boat off in the distance. I screamed “Charley” as loud as I could but at that distance he couldn’t hear me. I watched in horror as I noticed him at the back of the boat, pulling repeatedly at the motor’s starter cord. The motor wasn’t starting and there wasn’t a wisp of wind.

Sure, I was scared during my ascent, surrounded by blood thirsty sharks, but the moment my head was above water, my fear grew exponentially. Scary as it was underwater, watching the sharks darting all around me, as soon as I hit the surface, I had no idea what was happening down below. I could no longer see what the sharks were doing except for the dorsal fins on the surface that kept zeroing in on me only to dart away at the last second. Everything from my neck down was vulnerable and not being able to see what was down there made it ten times worse. “Scared shitless” doesn’t even come close to what I was experiencing.

An eternity passed while I floated on the surface imagining what it would be like being eaten by a shark. Yikes! Another eternity and I heard the motor start. Hallelujah. With a little luck Charley might get to me before the sharks did. But as the boat finally came along side me, here came the biggest dorsal fin I ever saw (close up that is) coming right at me and slowly sinking as it closed in. “Double and triple yikes.” Then it happened. I felt the bump on the side of my thigh. You know, when the shark jaws sever your leg, but the adrenaline is so strong that you don’t feel it until later.

I grabbed on to boat’s ladder, and as far as I can remember, flung myself over the gunwale in one gigantic leap and landed on my back, on the deck, eyes closed. “Charley”, I yelled frantically, “Do I still have both my legs?” “Yeah, why?” he replied

I didn’t die from a shark bite as you might have guess, but the fear from the most frightening experience of my life almost killed me.

As I lay there on the deck thanking the lord for my exceedingly narrow escape, I asked Charley, “What the hell were you doing so far away from the drop off point?”

“Well, you dropped off your load of fish from your first dive and pretty soon I noticed a bunch of sharks around the boat. I figured they smelled the blood from the fishes you shot dripping out the scuppers into the water. So, I drove around trying to lead them away when this huge sucker swam right up to the back of the boat and took a big bite out of the prop which of course killed the engine.”

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Product Description

USS Reclaimer ARS 42

"Personalized" Canvas Ship Print

(Not just a photo or poster but a work of art!)

Every sailor loved his ship. It was his life. Where he had tremendous responsibility and lived with his closest shipmates. As one gets older his appreciation for the ship and the Navy experience gets stronger. A personalized print shows ownership, accomplishment and an emotion that never goes away. It helps to show your pride even if a loved one is no longer with you. Every time you walk by the print you will feel the person or the Navy experience in your heart (guaranteed).

The image is portrayed on the waters of the ocean or bay with a display of her crest if available. The ships name is printed on the bottom of the print. What a great canvas print to commemorate yourself or someone you know who may have served aboard her.

The printed picture is exactly as you see it. The canvas size is 8"x10" ready for framing as it is or you can add an additional matte of your own choosing. If you would like a larger picture size (11"x 14") on a 13" X 19" canvas simply choose that option. The prints are made to order. They look awesome when matted and framed.

We PERSONALIZE the print with "Name, Rank and/or Years Served" or anything else you would like it to state (NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE). It is placed just above the ships photo. After purchasing the print simply email us or indicate in the notes section of your payment what you would like printed on it. A couple of Suggestions :

United States Navy Sailor
Proudly Served Sept 1963 - Sept 1967

My Son or Daughter is presently serving in the United States Navy
Their NAME and RANK

This would make a nice gift and a great addition to any historic military collection. Would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.

The watermark "Great Naval Images" will NOT be on your print.

This photo is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high resolution printer and should last many years.

Because of its unique natural woven texture canvas offers a special and distinctive look that can only be captured on canvas. The canvas print does not need glass thereby enhancing the appearance of your print, eliminating glare and reducing your overall cost.

We guarantee you will not be disappointed with this item or your money back. In addition, We will replace the canvas print unconditionally for FREE if you damage your print. You would only be charged a nominal fee plus shipping and handling.

Notable Reclaimers

  • Captain Gries - Captain and Force Commander of the Reclaimers' expeditionary force sent to Viridia to put down the rebellion against Imperial rule.
  • Sergeant Trosque - Trosque accompanied Captain Gries to Viridia.
  • Techmarine Drumon - Drumon was a Techmarine who served aboard the Reclaimers strike cruiserRevenant in the 930s.M41, when CommissarCiaphas Cain was assigned as the strike force's liaison during its mission to Viridia and its subsequent pursuit of the space hulkSpawn of Damnation. The Reclaimers first had made Cain's acquaintance when he appeared at the other end of a Dolmen Gate, escaping the inhabitants of a NecronTomb World that the Space Marines had been about to destroy. Cain had lost two fingers to a glancing hit from a Necron Gauss Weapon, and Drumon collaborated with Apothecary Sholer to create an augmetic replacement for the fingers. This replacement served Cain faithfully for the rest of his life. Cain always found Astartes' personalities difficult to comprehend, but Drumon seemed to take a liking to him during Cain's time with the Reclaimers. Amberley Vail, Cain's biographer, echoed this belief, stating that Drumon considered Cain as close to a friend as was possible for a Space Marine with a non-Astartes. At times, Drumon chose to spar with Cain using chainswords, and Cain actually managed to hold his own, even against Drumon's transhuman physiology. Drumon was among the honour guard that escorted Cain to Serendipita after the conclusion of their mission. Encountering the Reclaimers again, in the 990s.M41, Cain was saddened to hear that Drumon had been among the Reclaimers who had boarded the Spawn of Damnation, which had disappeared into the Warp without warning and had not been seen again.
  • Apothecary Sholer - Sholer was a Reclaimers Apothecary present on the Revenant who aided Techmarine Drumon in building bionic fingers for CommissarCiaphas Cain.
  • Veren - Veren was a battle-brother of the Reclaimers who accompanied the task force to Viridia. He accompanied Captain Gries in the first assault on Fidelity as part of the squad of Sergeant Trosque.

Watch the video: USS Reclaimer ARS 42 USNavy launching LCVP 1969-1972 (May 2022).