Connect with us
background

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review – Submerged: Adventures of America’s Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team

Published

on

Some of us will have dived in Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia, and marvelled at the remains of massive WWII warships. Others may have ventured into the dark, cold depths of the Great Lakes in America where countless vessels have foundered or explored the labyrinth of submerged caves in Florida.

Few of us, if any, will have made dozens of dives to inspect and map the USS Arizona, sunk in Pearl Harbour, or surveyed the Prinz Eugen, a German cruiser devasted by a nuclear test and sunk at Bikini Atoll. Similarly, few will have braved a dive to the wreck of the Confederate ship, CSS Alabama, resting in 65 metres of water, and in treacherous currents, off the coast of Cherbourg, France. (What was it doing in the English Channel?) However, for Daniel Lenihan, as an American Park Ranger and Head of the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit (SCRU) these tasks have been a job and a passion.

Submerged: Adventures of America’s Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team by Daniel Lenihan is “a collection of adventures, triumphs, failures and close calls” (p.11) within some of the most challenging dive sites in the world. What emerges from the book is that shipwrecks and underwater sites are seldom benign. They are places where simple, cumulative misjudgements can end in tragedy.

The 22 chapters present both an autobiography and a chronology of how Daniel developed as a diver. From a devil-may-care cave diver to representing the USA on the International Committee of the Underwater Cultural Heritage of ICOMOS; a UNESCO affiliated body. However, the book is more than a series of tales about locating and mapping wrecks, preserving and documenting underwater sites. Daniel Lenihan takes you to these places. You can almost feel the teeth chattering cold of Lake Superior, the smell of fuel oil in Pearl Harbour and see the entanglements waiting for you inside the submerged powerhouse at the bottom of the Amistad Dam, Texas.

However, I suspect Daniel regards one of his greatest achievements has been in the protection now given to submerged sites. He states:

“Scientific, legal and ethical standards that apply to archaeological sites on land should also apply to archaeology under water. Archaeology for gain, by selling gold and other materials taken from wrecks for personal or corporate profit, is not acceptable. Nor is any indirect involvement by archaeologists in activities that foster a market in such antiquities” (p. 161.)

If I have a criticism of Submerged it is minor. Often Daniel Lenihan appears to be speaking to the initiated – to those familiar with the people and places, organisations and technical procedures he describes. However, this is dwarfed by the insights and commitment he displays. The book is well worth reading.


  • Submerged: Adventures of America’s Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team (2002)
  • New York: Newmarket Press
  • By Daniel Lenihan
  • ISBN      1557045054                         287 pages

About Daniel Lenihan:

Daniel obtained his MA in Anthropology from Florida State University in 1973. He led the US National Parks Service Submerged Cultural Resources Unit (SCRU) for 25 years from 1980. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Barbara.

Daniel has co-authored three books with the actor Gene Hackman:

Justice for None (2004) St Martin’s Press, Escape from Andersonville (2008) St Martin’s Press,             Wake of the Perdido (2012) William Morrow.


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

Dr Fred Lockwood is Emeritus Professor of Learning and Teaching, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. He is also a PADI Master Scuba Diver and dived in the waters of Central America and Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands. Follow Fred at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

Comments

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Fire in the Night – The Piper Alpha Disaster (2008)

Published

on

At 10.00 pm on 6th July 1988 liquid gases, under high pressure, exploded in a fireball on the Piper Alpha oil production platform. All in its path were enveloped in super heated air and flame. The light from the explosion was seen by a diver working 50 feet below the surface; those onboard felt the violent vibration. Shrapnel from the explosion ruptured gas and crude oil pipelines that immediately fed the blaze. It also cut all electrical power and fire fighting water supplies on the platform. Within the space of two hours a two billion pound oil platform, “the most expensive real estate on the planet,” (p. 23) was destroyed and one hundred and sixty one men died. The blaze was visible from seventy miles away. Paint blistered on boats that tried to approach; rescue helicopters could not get closer than one mile.

Stephen McGinty, the author of Fire in the Night: The Piper Alpha Disaster, has drawn upon interviews with survivors, witness statements and official testimony from the Public Enquiry led by Lord Cullen. However, it is more than a painstaking, forensic account of the events surrounding that night. His account describes the heroism and fear, leadership and confusion, professionalism and complacency surrounding those on the platform. It is all part of the human story of those who survived as well as those who perished.

Piper Alpha was a multi-level labyrinth of gangways and staircases, modules and gantries, pipelines and tanks. His account, of battling through searing heat and acrid smoke as workers searched for an escape route, is detailed, emotional and harrowing. However, it is an account that would benefit from a diagram of the platform and key landmarks included in his account. Also, in his attempt to be comprehensive McGinty includes the names and responsibilities of many who were on the platform that night. This includes accounts of their conversations and reflections. However, they are so numerous there is a danger they become bewildering and detract from the main story. Sometimes less information can provide a clearer picture.

Fire in the Night: The Piper Alpha Disaster is a compelling book to read even though the content does not make it the most enjoyable. It does serve to illustrate that when we fail to follow procedures and cut corners it can be at a cost. Perhaps the final comment on the disaster should end with an extract from Lord Cullen’s damning report in which he describes:

“… a culture of complacency at Occidental where the monitoring of work was inadequate in an environment where mistakes proved lethal” (p. 259)


  • Fire in the Night: The Piper Alpha Disaster (2008)
  • By Stephen McGinty
  • ISBN 9780230708068
  • 290 pages

About Stephen McGinty

Stephen McGinty is an award-winning journalist with the Scotsman newspaper. He has worked with the Glasgow Herald and the Sunday Times. His other books include:

            This Turbulent Priest: The Life of Cardinal Winning (2003)

            Churchill’s Cigar 2007)

            Camp Z: the Secret Life of Rudolf Hess (2011)


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

Continue Reading

Dive Training Blogs

Jeff chats to… Jim Elliott and Tinamarie Hernandez of Diveheart (Watch Video)

Published

on

In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jim Elliott, Founder and President of Diveheart, and Tinamarie Hernandez who is the organization’s Executive Director.

Diveheart is a US-based, nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization which aims to provide and support educational scuba diving programs that are open to any child, adult or veteran with a disability, with the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value to that person.

In their own words:

We’ve discovered the forgiving, weightless wonder of the water column provides the perfect gravity-free environment for those who might otherwise struggle on land. Underwater, we’re all equal.

Diveheart works with individuals who have a variety of disabilities, including physical and developmental disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more. Diveheart seeks to help its participants “Imagine the Possibilities” in their lives.

 

Find out more about Diveheart and their valuable work at www.diveheart.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular