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Journals 2003/2004

John Langella
East Providence High School, East Providence, Rhode Island

"Deep water excavation of ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea"
R/V Knorr, Black Sea
July 22 - 29, 2004

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Sinop, Turkey

The Turkish officials haven't given us permission to leave port. We spend the day testing and preparing Hercules and the transmission network. The decision was made to launch Hercules while at the pier. This was to test Herc's systems and capabilities and to get training time for the rov pilots.

This was Herc's maiden voyage. It had never been tested in water until today. Marc Bowen is the first pilot with Todd Gregory as his engineer and David Wright in the navigators seat. Everything worked well and we sent our first live underwater transmissions from Herc to URI and Mystic.

Once transmissions were started we were all scheduled for four-hour duty watches in the image van. We now had to change our eating and sleeping patterns to be wide awake in the low-lit image van.

Later, in the image van, Dr. Ballard showed me to use the various panels controlling the transmissions, while we worked out glitches in the system communicating with the Coastal Institute at URI and Mystic. Candidly, I told him how amazed I was at the quality of the team he had assembled, their ability to work long hour on little sleep, in close quarters and with no apparent tempers or sensitive egos. I know that many of this team has been with him on other expeditions. I asked, "What do you look for in team members?" He replied "Quiet Excellence."

By evening, we still hadn't received permission to leave the pier. Everyone was anxious to be on site. The Turkish officials seemed to have an endless list of demands and were checking everyone's papers intensely.

Our transmissions improved and the pilots have become more confident with Herc's controls and are ready for deep water.

I worked with Dr. Fredrick Hiebert (chief archeologist). We spent time going over side scan images of the sites. Jonathan Howland explained how the photo-mosaics were created. Jon was the person who created the original photo-mosaics of the Titanic, which were featured in National Geographic Magazine. It took him months to create those images. He has written software which can now do mosaic mapping in a matter of hours.

A number of times we heard that we would soon get clearance, but nothing materialized. Late in the evening, Dr. Ballard discussed the possibility of leaving Turkish waters and working only sites in international waters. Dwight Coleman, Jeremy Weirch and I plotted the sites on various charts and compared our findings. Only two of the sites were technically in international waters. The expedition was losing time and money sitting at the pier, but the risk of upsetting the Turks, and the loss of good will, wouldn't be worth it if we were to leave.

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