Historic Ships: Updates from Marine Forensics Panel (SNAME)


Gregg Bemis advised that his diving expedition planned for August-September 2010 has been deferred to 2011.  Gregg hopes to avoid the use of saturation diving techniques as a cost savings measure.  Gregg has a shell expansion drawing – he is concerned about the structure he may encounter in accessing the forward cargo holds area.


Gregg Bemis reported that he had heard from Simon Mills that there is “… not much to report Britannic-wise, but now that the summer break in Greece is well and truly over we’re looking to get things moving again this autumn.  There may be a few behind-the-scenes discussions in Athens next week, after which I hope to have a clearer idea on what next year holds.”


There was a lively discussion of claims by a granddaughter of 2nd Officer Lightoller that he colluded with other officers to cover up the fact that the helm was put over in the wrong direction due to the use of obsolete helm orders, based on the concept that dated helm comments had been given.  There was general consensus that this was nonsense and highly unlikely.  Incidentally, Harland & Wolff, the builders of Titanic, has long been out of business.  Belfast’s “Titanic Quarter” ambitious redevelopment project is intended to present a whole new face for the city of Belfast.  Refer to page 57 of the July 10th, 2010, issue of The Economist.


Kevin Denlay (an Australian diver), Bill Garzke, and Bob Dulin continue to refine and elaborate an exhaustive analysis of “A Marine Forensics Analysis of the Sinking of HMS Prince of Wales” ? combining the fruits of decades of research and analysis by Messrs. Garzke and Dulin with the unexpected discoveries resulting from 2007, 2008, and 2009 diving expeditions to the battleship wreck site.

The Prince of Wales paper will be included in the agenda for the 2012 Marine Forensics Symposium as a good example of a marine forensics investigation, including the combination of extensive historic research with sophisticated forensics examination of the wreck site by experienced divers.  The battleship is in sufficiently shallow waters that deep diving submersibles and robotics are not required.  This analysis is a classic example of the importance of on-site examination of ship wrecks to the comprehensive understanding of the causes of ship losses.


Bill Garzke and Bob Dulin continue work on their comprehensive analysis of the Bismarck saga, featuring insights from James Cameron’s several expeditions to the battleship wreck site.  Panel members Bill Jurens and Jim Cameron are also co-authors of this book.


The loss of this submarine on May 21, 1967, has long been the subject of speculation and controversy.  Recent analyses have concluded that an internal hydrogen explosion led to the destruction of this nuclear submarine.

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