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P-MAN XVII Update # 10 - Not exactly April Fool, but...the Avenger!

03 April 2015

Today was another split op day. Pat had meetings to deal with so he stayed on shore and in between events, he worked on a site survey form for the Helldiver. More on that later.

Jennifer went with Stockbridge and reported that the students did everything we asked of them with their underwater ROV. Their task today was to survey the transition between the side of a Japanese ship resting on the bottom of Western Lagoon and the ocean floor. They did and discovered mooring lines, debris and some unusual parts that they took pictures of. We will analyze in a day or two to see if they are pertinent. Tomorrow, we'll have them work a site that we are still investigating.

The rest of us went back to Derek's Island to hike the western portion of it, and to finally get on the south side that has some pretty steep cliffs. We did not find a scrap of metal anywhere. Well almost everyone went hiking. Someone had to stay and guard the boat and it was my turn to do that.

Got back to port early and went diving in the afternoon. Scripps and UDEL had a couple of point targets for us to dive on. We found them all and they turned out to be either natural features or not airplane items: a BFR, a coral mound, rubber pipes, a sea fan. BFR = big fracking rock. It was nice to get in the water. A remora did try to hitch a ride on me.


Pipes.


Sea Fan.


Val during a safety stop.


It was Warren's last night here in Palau and he chose The Taj for his farewell dinner. He came for just a short period of time and now he's headed back to family and work. It was great to have him out here again.

Early turn in as we had an early get up in the morning. We want to explore deep in Malakal Harbor when the visibility is supposed to be good.

04 April

We went out early today so that the tide would be in our favor for visibility. This would be my first dive on this site. We're back on the Helldiver investigating further. The reason is that as Pat developed his site survey form, there were inconsistencies in the debris field. The visibility was so poor the days we worked the site on discovery, and our bottom time per dive was so short, it led us to hypothesis bias. Upon further investigation, including 14 dives to 112 feet, we found all the proof we needed to determine that this airplane is an Avenger, not a Helldiver.

First off, we're a bit upset with ourselves for falling into this trap. However, there is good news in that a crew of three might be starting their journey home. As to the Helldiver, all of our analysis of the reports put it near where we found the Avenger. Obviously it's not there. It must be someplace else. We all are redoubling our efforts to find it. And Pat is finalizing the site survey form with all of our updated data and analysis.


Flip's water entry.


My first look at the prop and motor. Notice the great visibility.


Back of the propeller.


A really nice dive light, on loan from Mark Moline, really changes the view.


Pat during a safety stop.


Mickaila turning on my camera.


Andy from Scripps and Megan from UDEL. Just another day in the office.

We met with Scripps and UDEL after dinner and everyone is hot to find the Helldiver. We did a lot of analysis and came up with four areas to dive tomorrow that look very promising. Of course we say that every day. Hope.

The Stockbridge Team was going to be our eyes on the Avenger today so we could save dive time. However, when they went to power up the bot prior to launching, they had power issues and the system was pulsing. They had to go back to port to effect a repair. They thought they would be back out within an hour, ready to dive. However, one problem led to another and that repair requires some epoxy to dry for 24 hours. Tomorrow, they're heading to Peleliu for a battlefield tour before the Emperor of Japan shows up. So they'll be back working with us on Monday.



The abandoned river cruiser from China with a ship from the Japan Coast Guard in the background.


A better view of the support ship for the Emperor's visit.

- Flip Colmer

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