Descent into Darkness: Pearl Harbor, 1941: A Navy Diver's Memoir

Descent into Darkness: Pearl Harbor, 1941: A Navy Diver's Memoir

Descent into Darkness: Pearl Harbor, 1941: A Navy Diver's Memoir

Descent into Darkness: Pearl Harbor, 1941: A Navy Diver's Memoir

Synopsis

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, a crack team of US Navy salvage divers were hurriedly flown in to rescue as many trapped sailors as possible, and resuscitate what was left of the Pacific fleet. Here, one of the divers describes the operations.

Excerpt

Descent into Darkness is a salvage diver's memoir of the raising of the sunken battleships after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The book is also a history of the salvage work performed by the USS Seminole in the South Pacific theater of war.

Navy divers and Pacific Bridge civilian divers formed one leg of a salvage triad, salvage engineers and the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard comprised the other two. One leg needed the assistance and support of the other two to be effective.

Once divers entered the interiors of sunken battleships, they experienced a world of total blackness, unable to see the face- plates in their helmets, a scant two inches from their noses. The abundance of sediment, oil, and other pollutants inside the ships rendered diving lamps useless, since the beams of light reflected into the divers' eyes, blinding them.

Navy divers using only a sense of feel groped their way hundreds of feet inside the ships to their work assignments. They developed a superior sense of touch, much as blind persons do. They also experienced an eerie phenomenon in the underwater wrecks. They could sense the presence of floating human bodies long before they felt them.

Divers also learned to cope with unseen dangers in the blackness, such as falling machinery, sharp, torn metal, jagged holes in the deck, and other hazards. Upon reaching their underwater work sites they used all types of tools to perform a multitude of tasks.

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