Project of the Graf II PARTS
Our average depth on this dive was 200’/60m with a bottom time of 20 min giving us a nice clean deco. After the dive we grabbed early lunch, some hot tea. and reviewed the video. Simply amazing dive.
We reached the far end of the super structure and turned, returning to the upline at 20 min bottom time and average depth of 240’/72m. We then started the nearly 75 min of deco ahead of us. Yahoo...... But it was worth it. I was definitely gonna feel this deco temperature-wise, as I sat in the water waiting for my team an extra 20 minutes prior to the dive, as they had camera issues. This meant I was already cold at the start of the deco and that I could look forward to my feet getting numb and losing use of my hands and fingers, as they would be numb. Of course it is always fun to try to talk after deco. Your face, lips and jaw are so numb. I could barely form a full sentence, or say words with the letter P in them. Tuesday Dive Day 3
This was our surface support day. Our wakeup call was 5:00 am to prepare the deck for the other teams. First dive is at 6:00 am and we needed to put the teams in the water and run surface support. No diving for our team unless another team bails or they get done before 5:00 pm. As the day progressed a storm built and the diving operations were ceased by the captain and we were told to breakdown the gear and stow it for the rough and windy night ahead. We stayed out, but if the weather remained bad we would return to the port in the morning.Wednesday Dive Day 4
We woke up to good weather (great weather in fact) and the seas were perfect for diving. At around 7:00am we are told by the captain that we should prepare for diving that day. But first the maritime office would need to place the down line on the Bow Section. In the meantime, as we were team one, we needed to get our gear together as quickly as possible. As we were assembling our gear, and because I got so cold the last dive, I asked Jan to borrow his passive heating vest, to see if it gave me anymore warmth or protection. It sure did look strange but we would see if it worked.
We had planned to dive the Bow of the wreck. The maritime office had laid a new down line on the bow section, therefore we could descend directly onto the bow without wasting time. Lukasz wanted to film our team descending on to the bow and then we would do some penetration into the bow section. We were not allowed to jump from the ship, so we were “air lifted” down into the water. Such a cool experience. Once we touched the water we could scooter off towards the Bow Section Down line about 300’/90m away. All went really well that morning and the three of us descended around 8:50am. We stopped at 30’/9m to allow Lukasz to square the camera away and then we continued down. This time I stopped at 170’/51m allowing Lukasz to catchup and pass me heading down to the wreck. I could almost see the wreck from my depth without Lukasz’s light but as he descended closer to the wreck his lights illuminated the bow section. Such an incredible sight. Indescribable. He then turned and put the camera on us and we then continued our decent to the wreck.
and decided to grab a hold of the chain to feel it’s enormous size and get Lukasz to take some video so the viewer could understand the sheer enormity of this chain. Each link is bigger than my hands in width and the circumference of the metal is twice that of what I can wrap my hands around. Just massive.
We then continued to explore around the anchor area looking at the massive cleats which they use to tie the ship up.
We exited the side of the wreck and started to explore the forward gun balconies with their distinctive wave shape above the guns. This was unique to the Graf Zeppelin.
Before we know it, it’s time to turn and return to the upline. The average depth for the dive was 220’/66m and 20 min bottom so we have a run of 90 min. This was one of the best dives of the project for sure. As a side note, I wasn’t cold so I guess this extra vest might of worked. Then it was time for hot tea, lunch and refill for the afternoon dives. The wind and weather started to pick up again around one and by 4:00 pm the Captain had called the dive and the project. Weather forecast and swell prediction made it impossible to dive the remainder of the day or the following day. So the captain decided to return to port. This of course was a massive shock and disappointment to the team but it was the captain's decision. As you can well imagine, the sentiment on the trip home was not unhappiness about the project being called early, but thankfulness for the 4 dives we did manage to get.Reflections
Looking back on the project I feel very lucky to have taken part of this well organized and efficiently run project. From the very beginning Sebastian P had it very well planned and organized. We all had loading and unloading duties, and each member pulled their weight to make the dives possible. The crew of the ship “Zodiak” was outstanding. They really helped and never complained about the long days of putting people in and pulling people out. The crew members were extremely enthusiastic and supported us by all means possible. In return, every evening we presented video materials from each dive. Janusz and Jacek from Marine Department provided complex sonar shoots of the wreck which were really helpful in getting more familiar with the GZ topography before hitting the water. All the sonar shoots, along with historical photos of Graf Zepelin, filled the walls of the mess giving us time each meal to study and discuss the wreck details and share our dive impressions with other teams. A most special thanks goes to Lukasz and Tymak (my fellow UTD Instructors) who diligently filled all the cylinders for every dive, every day. They sometimes worked until 2:00 am to ensure that gas was blended and ready for diving. Without their hard work and dedication I don’t think we could of done the dives we did, especially not two per day. Another special thanks to Sebastian for securing the permissions to conduct the dive and then coordinating such a well orchestrated project. Hooray Hooray to Seba.Appendix 1Pages taken from the actual Project Proposal.Organization
The project was conducted by Baltic Wreck Society in cooperation with Gdynia Marine Department and Hiperbaric Medine Institute in Gdynia. Sebastian Popek was the project manager and also came up with the idea of the expedition.The Purpose
The purpose of the diving expedition to the wreck of “ the only German aircraft carrier “Graf Zeppelin” are as follows:
a. Making detailed photographic documentation of the wreck
b. Making detailed video documentation of the wreck
c. Collecting bottom samples in the neighborhood of the wreck.
d. Checking the wreck for existence of possible dangerous materials.
e. Preparing detailed descriptive documentation of the wreck.
f. Checking if the wreck could possibly be opened for general scuba diving.Preparation of the expedition.
Maximum safety and minimum risk is the basic assumption for this deep diving expedition. This means that each person diving on the wreck should have the relevant qualifications, be properly prepared and have the experience required for this sort of diving. Since deep diving always involves a risk of decompression sickness, the divers must have ensured access to a decompression chamber with medical support.
All divers will have all necessary technical equipment required to ensure maximum safety during the dives.
Baltic Wrecks Association will provide support in form of two independent compressors for filing diving tanks and sufficient supply of gases for mixing artificial breathing mixtures for deep diving ( helium, oxygen, argon).
To make the best use of the limited time the divers will have on the wreck and carry out safely all the assigned tasks, the whole team must be very well prepared and experienced. Therefore it was assumed that each diver must have:
• Full trimix certificate from a reputable diver certification agency.
• Have the complete diving equipment suitable for conducting safe dives to the depth of 82 meters.
• own a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) and be experienced in wreck diving using a DPV.
• have a valid diver's insurance,
• Have the appropriate documented experience in wreck diving to the depths of 90 m in Baltic Sea conditions,
• Have current medical confirming physical fitness for this type of diving.
After verification it was decided that the team will consist of 12 divers:
• Sebastian Popek – diver / expedition manager
• Andrew Georgitsis – diver/ video camera
• Tomasz Stachura – diver/photography
• Robert Klein – diver
• Łukasz Piórewicz – diver/video camera
• Marek Podgórczyk – diver / lighting
• Dimitrios Stavrokakis – diver
• Clemens Schützenhofer - diver
• Oliver Ferner-Prantner – diver / video camera
• Anders Palm – diver/ video camera
• Anders Nasman - diver / video cameraDocumenting the wrec
The expedition is scheduled for the for the May 4 - 15, 2009 and will take five diving days.
The first day will be used for setting the uplines and connecting them with guidelines which will facilitate navigation on the wreck for photo/video teams during following dives and increase safety indicating quick route to the uplines.
Four uplines will be tied up to the wreck, in the following locations:
• Superstructure – front
• Superstructure – end
Furthermore on the first day dive teams will leave on the wreck near the uplines additional tanks with bottom and deco gases for emergency use.
All dives will be conducted in three men teams. This will allow creation of efficient task teams focused on performing assigned activities.
Each day 3, three men dives teams will descend to the wreck and perform planned tasks. Sixth team will be providing surface support and will rotate each day with other teams. At all time during diving operations the members of the surface support team will be ready to descent and provide support underwater.
Each diving team will consist of a person performing a specific task (taking pictures, video or collecting samples) and two assisting divers. If possible each team will make two dives during the day, however this will depend mostly on weather and sea conditions and the final decision on the number of dives will be made during the expedition.
The following gas mixes will be used to dive the wreck;
• Trimix 18/45 – dives to the deck and shallower areas of the wreck.
• Trimix 15/55 and 10/70 – dives to the deck in deeper areas of the wreck.
• Oxygen, EAN 50 and EAN 32 as decompression gases.
Use of the above mentioned diving mixtures will ensure maximum safety of all planned dives.