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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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Monday, July 28, 2003
Black Sea

The Knorr arrives at site 82, off Sinop, at about 8:30 am. The seas are a little rough. At 6 am. the sky is dark with thunderclouds and lightning. I watched squalls about a mile from us. Were the ancient god's disturbed by our presence? Nobody started working on the deck equipment. It rains periodically, but, it's the incredible lightning, striking the water nearby, that causes someone to remark, "one strike could really ruin your day, and all this equipment on deck! (Hercules, Little Herc, Argo, Echo, etc)

The ship's movement feels strange due to its dynamic positioning system used to keep it in place over a site. I'm used to rolling and pitching, but with the dynamic positioning there is a side movement added.

After the storm passed I worked with Cathie Offinger, Mark Deroche, Martin Bowen and Doug Ballard putting together the "elevators". These creations are lowered to the seafloor and used to gently raise artifacts, which will have been placed in it by Hercules, to the surface.

The elevator has floats on it for lift, counter-buoyed by steel weights, which are dropped when it is to return to the surface. A sonar responder and a 12-volt battery are built into one of the floats. When the responder receives the signal the battery sends current through a 'burn' wire in the elevator, which melts causing the weights to drop. The elevator rises to the surface and is recovered by a crew in an inflatable outboard.

Elevators are used for two reasons. One is that they do not have cables to the surface that could become tangled with the rov's (two rov's are usually in operation at a time). Secondly, the rov's have very limited lifting capacity because their buoyancy is designed so near neutral, that, any added mass would through them off.

During the afternoon, Dr. Ballard learns from the Turkish representative that he is supposed to meet the governor in Sinop for a press conference at 3 pm. (It's 2:45). During supper we learn that we cannot launch Herc. The Knorr must proceed to the port of Sinop. No one is happy about this.

We get to Sinop after sunset and find a crowd of people, paparazzi, reporters, TV cameramen, government officials and others waiting for us. For a while it's like a circus on the wharf.

The Turkish officials confiscated all our passports and demand six photos of each person on board. Cathy Offinger remembered that I had my 'who's who on the Knorr' photo list. Suddenly the list has a new purpose. We quickly gathered anyone I hadn't taken a picture of yet and start clicking away. Dr. Ballard is not happy about this declaring, "nobody smile for them!" He didn't, but not everyone could keep a straight face for the camera!

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