Posted by: mcjangles | August 15, 2008

So you want to be a deep sea diver?

“Dive! Dive! Dive!”

After an all night boat ride and spending some time by the bottom finder carefully picking the mark, the command to dive seemed to come pretty quickly… considering the boys were dropping down to nearly 400 fsw!

Yesterday a team of New Jersey divers on the Independence II ventured nearly 100 miles off the coast in search of long lost shipwrecks resting in deep water, hidden from daylight and human eyes for years, decades, and perhaps centuries. The bottom divers, Richie Kohler, Evan Kovacs, and Frankie Pellegrino are no strangers to deep expedition level diving and were pooling together their combined decades of experience to turn the dial on Northeast diving to 11 (yes, one louder).

I was honored to be invited along as support diver and crew on what was an incredible team effort. This is my version of how I saw things.

It was clear from the start that this was not a group of cowboys only looking for the “extreme” factor. Every detail and contingency was planned in case of emergency, and the bailout gas alone took up half the boat. The plan was to shot the wreck and live boat the entire operation to minimize stress on the divers during decompression. Three safety divers (Steve “the scab” Lombardi, Dan Martinez, and myself) were available and ready to splash at any time to ferry tanks and assist the bottom divers. Bill Trent was acting as dive marshal and would be running the show.

Capt Dan Bartone had several sets of numbers to investigate in 350-400 fsw and we spent some time checking a couple out to determine the best site to splash on. There were interesting bottom features on both numbers but the excitement mounted when a big showing came 30 feet off the bottom on the second and it was decided to hit that. After deploying the shot and nearly 500 feet of line, and checking the current, the three bottom divers splashed into a deep blue sea of anticipation.

I will leave the details of the dive to the guys who did it (hint: look for an article in a upcoming Advanced Diver Magazine), but I will say that things went without a hitch and the guys did find a wreck and had a great dive. They reported relatively warm (51F) conditions on the bottom with water 70+ near the surface. Support divers were used to swap out bottles and check on divers starting at about 120 feet. A support diver was in the water with the decompressing divers at all times from ~40 feet to the surface to monitor for any signs of oxygen toxicity. The entire team was CCR with nearly every major manufacturer represented (Evolution, Prism, Ouroboris, 2 Megs, and an Optima)

For me this was a great learning experience, and to see how expedition dives of this magnitude can be conducted safely in a dynamic environment using a team approach was eye opening. I will say that we did not find what we hoped, which means it’s still out there, along with countless other lost vessels waiting to be discovered. The adventure continues, and when working with friends like these guys, I can’t wait!

Many thanks to Fourth Element, TDI, and OMS for supporting this effort.


  1. Brandon,

    Awesome effort! You guys rock. I am really jealous I wasn’t there. I would have loved to witness it and be a part of, even as a Peg Boy.

    In the next day or so I will be posting an article about two recent cave dives to 300ffw+ and 350ffw+ here in Mexico. Patrick and I are working on a deep project at The Pit here with the Megs. We have another dive scheduled for the 24th. I will be thinking about you.


  2. Cooooool – though just thinking about the ride makes me want to hurl. Was hoping you’d be on the boat Saturday so you could tell me more in person! Glad you had an exciting day.

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