2013 BentProp Progress Report # 05

P-MAN XV Update #5 - Meet & greet, and a trip to Peleliu.

21 March

Not every day can be out on the water or in the jungle. Sometimes we have to put on our grownup clothes (again) and meet people. We traveled to The Big Island (Babelthuap) to meet the Officer in Charge (O.I.C.) of the CAT (Civic Action Team), The President of Palau, and the Governor of Ngeremlengui.

This CAT Team is the last of the old SeaBee stations that were set up around the Pacific after the war. Their mission is to do civil projects from construction of fire houses to upkeep of U.S. monuments to fitness programs and construction apprenticeships for youth in Palau. CATs were originally Navy SeaBee units but because the one in Palau is the last one in existence, the powers that be decided to rotate the unit between the SeaBees, The Army and The Air Force. But locally, they are always called The SeaBees. We've added AirBees and MudBees to the lexicon.

Then we went up to the Capitol in Melekeok to meet the President.

Dan, Flip, President Remengesau, Pat and Derek

President Tommy Remengasau has always been helpful to us and even dove with Tommy Doyle on his father's B-24 that we found in 2004. He recently won re-election and so is now going through the transition process. But he made time for us. We even have a tentative date for him to meet the Stockbridge High School robotics team out on the water rather than in his office. I think everyone will like this change.

We got to the Capitol early so while waiting for our appointment with the President, we went to the gallery in The Senate as it was in session. Well, almost in session. They were still waiting for their morning agenda to appear. But we recognized some faces and were able to say hello to Senator Mason Whipps (who loans us a van each year) and President of the Senate Elias Chin (retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Vice President of Palau). Then we headed over to Ngeremlengui to meet with Governor Wilson Ongos.

Pat, Governor Ongos, Dan and Derek

We may do a little work in, or over, the mangroves in Ngeremlengui State. Scripps not only works under the water, but over as well. They have a small, remotely controlled helicopter. This might be useful to look down upon the mangroves and see if any more pieces of a known crash site have been lifted up into the mangrove tops. We have done a few helicopter missions over the years to look this area over, but the helicopter business ceased operations last year.

Down to The Bridge for our first Bem Ermii burgers and shakes. I think we've been pretty disciplined in our food consumption as this was our first stop for these tasty treats. In the old days, maybe a stop every other day.

The view from under The Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge
(also known as the Koror-Babelthuap or "K-B" bridge),
looking west toward the southwest corner of Aimeliik State
in southern Babelthuap .

The rest of the day was spent reviewing side scanning sonar images and photography. We're still trying to narrow down targets of interest in Western Lagoon. There are approximately seven U.S. airplanes that SHOULD be in Western Lagoon.

That night we found a new Thai restaurant that is very, very good. Mingles So Thai. Margie and Dave ordered a feast for us as they are doing an advertising campaign for the owner. Wonderful food and great companionship. Now they want to make us media stars at a restaurant that serves a five pound hamburger! We're handing off this assignment to The Stockbridge team.

22 March

Headed down to Peleliu with The Scripps team. They were working with some of their ocean monitoring equipment along with Pat Colin's Coral Reef Research Foundation. But also trying to do survey work both underwater and with the airborne ROV.

Enroute to Peleliu

Both REMUS fish ready for action

Aerial ROV getting ready

Although the east side of Peleliu was heavily damaged from the typhoon that came through last December, the west side isn't too bad. What we did notice is that a lot of sand has been moved underwater. Although a previous find of a LVT (a tracked landing craft with a tank-like turret) is still mostly covered in coral and sand, the turret has been emptied of sand. So much so that you can see the turret from the surface even though it is in 75 feet of water.

Two views of the turret

We went down to Peleliu in calm waters but the east side on the return was pretty rough. I missed getting my camera back into a dry bag by 30 seconds. Good news, most of it is working properly. Canon likes my annual maintenance visits.

We got back to home base, cleaned up and brought Lew out to dinner with the Scripps crew. This was Billy Middleton's last night before going home. Nice little sendoff. Since we were going to the airport to meet the Stockbridge Team, we gave Billy a ride out.

Pat, Shannon Scott and Billy Middleton

Bob Richards, Stockbridge Team Leader

Buck, Stockbridge Engineering Leader

Jenny, Stockbridge Marketing Leader

We took them all out for a welcome Bem Ermii milkshake and everyone was all smiles even though they had been traveling for 24 hours.

The kids will be breaking out all of their equipment tomorrow and testing it all in salt water, but from a dock. We will be reviewing SSS images as well as video from the AUVs. And our last team member, Casey Doyle will be arriving tomorrow night.

- Flip Colmer

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