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THIRD INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE ON UNDERWATER MUNITIONS

Mar 24, 2011

Aqua Survey’s Dr. Jon Doi will be a platform speaker on Friday April 15th at the THIRD INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE ON UNDERWATER MUNITIONS held in Sopot, Poland.  The title of Jon’s presentation is Environmental Risks of UXO/MEC Contaminants in Sediment Addressed by Laboratory Toxicity Testing.  As excited as we are to see Dr. Doi and the other speakers present, being in country with as rich a cultural history as Poland also has a charm to it.  Take for instance, the castle in the nearby town of Malbork, the construction of which was begun in the late 1200’s by the Teutonic Order.  Having endured everything from medieval siege warfare to WWII bombing the Castle of Malbork has stood the test of time.  Many claim that Malbrok Castle is the largest Gothic fortification in Europe.  At one point it held more than 3,000 troops within its walls.  To read more about the history of this castle click here.

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Introducing the R/V Tesla

Jan 17, 2011

R/V Tesla Jetboat

Specialized Sampling and Surveying in Challenging Environments

Aqua Survey has just acquired its first landing craft-style jet-boat.  This shallow-draft vessel will be able to work at sea and also be able to land personnel and heavy equipment, such as all-terrain vehicles and vibracoring equipment, right on a beach.  We have named the 30-foot research vessel The R/V Tesla to honor the inventor Nicola Tesla who gave the world electric motors, electromagnetic coils, fluorescent lighting and radio-controlled electric boats.  Tesla was awarded over 700 patents.  His electromagnetic coils paved the way for the time-domain metal detection coil arrays we will be using from this vessel to map submerged pipelines, locate unexploded bombs and find Spanish treasure.  Maybe Tesla would have not appreciated the vessel’s two 450 cubic inch internal combustion engines, but we are quite sure he would have approved of the advanced geophysical remote sensing equipment and our Rossfelder alternating current electro-vibracoring systems.  Interestingly, the builder of this vessel has built the high-performance stunt boats used in recent James Bond movies.  Tesla would have enjoyed the gadgets in Bond films.

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UXO Found Near Major NYC Bridge

Oct 24, 2010

USS Bennington

If you were to ask the nearly 200,000 people that go over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge each day about what their biggest concern was about their commute, probably very few of them would mention anything about a lost barge-load of military munitions tucked neatly under the world’s eighth largest suspension bridge.

It wouldn’t have been on my list of concerns either, until last Saturday night when I received a call from commercial diver Gene Ritter who had made an alarming discovery underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: a stockpile of abandoned military munitions ranging in size from five foot shells designed to take down aircraft to over a thousand large caliber machine gun shells engineered to explode upon impact.  Intrigued, but also reminded of the 3 R’s of UXO encounters (Recognize, Retreat, Report), I cautioned Gene to discontinue diving on the targets and to alert the proper authorities.  I also offered to have Aqua Survey, from a safe distance, perform a side scan sonar survey of the area as a public service.  We did so last Sunday and provided a report to the authorities.

The recently discovered munitions are believed by some to be part of a cache of nearly 15,000 pieces lost in a barge accident after being off-loaded from the USS Bennington in 1954.

Further investigation, recovery and disposal of these munitions should be left to the proper authorities. Absolutely no one else should attempt to dive or anchor in this area.

-Ken Hayes

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Aqua Survey Staff Member Presents at the Franklin

Oct 16, 2010

Eric Wartenweiler Smith

Saturday, October 16th, Philadelphia, PA - over a hundred people jammed into the Franklin Institute’s auditorium to hear Aqua Survey captain and marine archeologist Eric Wartenweiler Smith present on his work with world-renowned archeologist Franck Goddio.  Smith, who divides his time between Aqua Survey and Goddio, has been a member of Goddio’s dive team for over a decade, most notably diving on Cleopatra’s sunken palace off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt.

The event’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect as the Franklin is currently displaying an exhibit entitled Cleopatra: the Search for the Last Queen of Egypt, which displays many artifacts discovered by Goddio and his team, including a man-sized sphinx (pictured above) discovered by Smith himself.

After giving an hour presentation in which he discussed what it is like to dive on a sunken Egyptian city, as well as going into detail on several of his other globe-trotting archeological adventures, Smith was gracious enough to give a guided tour of the exhibit where he could spend one-on-one time with attendees answering their questions.

Smith had this to say about the event, “I really enjoyed sharing my excitement for exploration on the sea and hope that everyone enjoyed the presentation.”

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World War II bomb ignites off Okinawa beach

Aug 13, 2010

September 1921, Air burst of a white phosphorus bomb over the USS Alabama during a test exercise.

By David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida
Stars and Stripes

YOMITAN, Okinawa - A large plume of white smoke spotted about 875 yards off the beach at Torii Station turned out to be a rare spontaneous detonation of a World War II-era explosive, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spokesman said Friday.

“The bomb just happened to wash up onto the reef by the forces of nature, exposing the content to air, which led to ignition,” 1st Lt. Masakazu Karimata, spokesman for the JMSDF base at White Beach, said of the Wednesday phosphorus-bomb explosion. “This is the first such case in our recorded ordnance disposal operations on Okinawa since the reversion to Japan in 1972.”
A second unexploded bomb was discovered Thursday during a search of the marine area.

The beach, on Okinawa’s central west coast, was one of the main landing sites U.S. troops used during the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945. The discovery of unexploded ordnance dating from the battle, referred to locally as the “Typhoon of Steel,” is a common occurrence.

During a search of the area, a JMSDF explosive ordnance disposal team also discovered and removed an unexploded 105 mm artillery shell about 65 feet away from where the phosphorous bomb exploded, according to JMSDF Lt. Commander Akihito Matsunaga. Because of deterioration, it was unclear whether the ordnance was Japanese or American.

The U.S. Army is cooperating in the investigation, said Chip Steitz, spokesman for the 10th Support Group.

“It is not unusual to find such rubble of war in Yomitan,” said Hitoshi Yonaha, spokesman for Yomitan Village. “There are probably more various things to surface around here. Experts tell us it will take another 70 years to dispose all of such remnants of the war.”

Yonaha urged beachgoers to be on the lookout for such items whenever they enter the water.

For more information regarding Aqua Survey’s unexploded bomb and munitions and explosives of concern underwater surveying capabilities please visit our web site or call Ken Hayes (908-347-4144).

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Oil Spill Response: Back from the Frontlines

Jul 01, 2010

Oil Boon

The challenge of oil speculation in the gulf has changed tack recently. The focus now is not only where oil is surfacing, but predicting where the huge submerged plume will end up. Some of the impacted sites like Mobile Bay, Pascagoula, Plaquemines Parish, Pensacola might not be tomorrow’s hot spots. The options are vast and are weather and current driven. Where next and what can be done?

In cooperation with DEC Environmental, Aqua Survey, Inc. is offering to provide modular floating soil cleaning services on barges that can be strategically deployed and shifted to follow the oil slick combined with early warning detection. The equipment will consist of oily water separators to handle excess water and sand washing equipment to handle the contaminated soils that can no longer be legally disposed of in landfills.

Aqua Survey’s Director of Engineering, Dave Morgan, just returned from visiting affected areas in the Gulf with DEC personnel.  DEC has extensive experience in oil skimming and sediment/soil treatment and has a plant that has just become available after its tour of duty to decontaminate soils at the future London Olympic site. We believe just as in warfare, the mobility of DEC’s proposed barge-based plant will be key to meeting the challenge and overcoming obstacles presented by the plume’s mobility. 

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ASI Captain Returns from Egypt to Work on Philadelphia-area Drilling Project

Jun 17, 2010

ASI Captain Eric W. Smith Returns from Egypt to Work on Philadelphia-area Drilling Project

It’s funny how life works sometimes.  Earlier this month an exhibit entitled “Cleopatra: the Search for the Lost Queen of Egypt” made its American debut at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute.  The exhibit details much of the work renowned underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio has conducted on the sunken city of Heracleion.  Aqua Survey employee Eric Wartenweiler Smith has worked as part of Goddio’s international team for the past ten years and recently returned from Egypt after a month long diving expedition with Goddio.  Smith is also headed to Philadelphia.  He’ll be captaining the R/V Hayes which is currently in its sixth week of a drilling project on the Delaware River.  Too see a video detailing the work the R/V Hayes has been doing in Philadelphia, including aerial footage, Click Here.

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