2011 BentProp Progress Report # 22

P-MAN XIII Update #22 - Dan broke what?

27 March

So far, P-MAN 13b has involved diplomatic runs all over Palau to meet with governors and chiefs, visiting old sites in unremitting mangrove and mud jungle, finding new sites in ghostly caves and beautiful coral reefs, and diving on targets in strong currents with nearly unlimited visibility. There is one thing we haven’t done yet on P-MAN 13b - using the Side Scan Sonar.

Casey at the Dixon wing.

The upside-down right wing of B-24 # '603, in which all members
of the Dixon crew perished.

Since none of us had attended P-MAN 13a where the SSS procedures and techniques had been refined to a new and advanced level, we waited for the arrival of the one and only Dan O’Brien. With his arrival to Palau, he brings all of the current knowledge picked up from PMAN 13a and we were ready to capitalize on it...until we couldn’t.

This morning started like most of the others with breakfast, a mission brief, a little herding the cats, and then we headed down to NECO to get the boat ready. The only thing different today was that we were attacking a potential target with the SSS. This required a little setup at the dock and it was here we had our first sign that things were not going to go well today. The mouse on the SSS didn’t work, nor did the backup mouse. After some thoughtful troubleshooting, we worked it out and got the system fired up and did an operational check – all set. We pushed off and arrived at our target thirty minutes later. Another twenty minutes, and we had the fish in the water and we were zeroing in on our target. Then the SSS, for reasons we still don’t know, decided that it was done operating for today and possibly longer. We troubleshot until some of our troubleshooting equipment decided it no longer wanted to play either. On the water with a broken SSS, not sure where the target was exactly, and a healthy rainstorm rapidly closing in on us, Joe took us in to safe harbor and found an uninhabited (and covered) cabana to regroup, eat lunch, and come up with a new game plan.

With no SSS, not much time left in the day to hit another target, and six divers and 12 tanks on board, we decided to suit up and do a dive where we thought the target might be. We donned our gear and headed downwards…. only to head back directly upwards! The tide had turned to outgoing and the visibility in the water had decreased dramatically making a useful search practically impossible. That was all she wrote for 27 March 2011 P-MAN 13a: no SSS, and a safe and effective dive not possible. Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you (quoting The Big Lebowski)!

Although, the day did end well, with fine sashimi, a trip to pick up Wesley Abbey (Derek’s son) from the airport, and of course, the SOP trip to Bem Ermii afterwards for hamburgers and shakes.

Derek Abbey's son Wesley arrives in Palau.

The van is getting crowded, so the boss has to ride
in the jump seat.

Semper Gumby!

- Warren


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