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BIKINI 2008

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					       email divers@divequest.co.uk                                                        Divequest 2008–2009 137


BIKINI ATOLL,                                                                             atmosphere was detonated and a fireball
                                                                                          of intense heat measuring millions of
                                                                                          degrees shot into the sky at over 300
MARSHALL ISLANDS                                                                          miles per hour. Millions of tons of coral,
                                                                                          sand, sea-life and sea water from the
                                                                                          lagoon were sent high into the air. Today
An awesome ‘Ghost Armada’                                                                 the Bikinians still wait to return to their
                                                                                          island home, but the soil remains full of
                                                                                          toxins and it is still not possible for them
                                                                                          to eat the coconuts and coconut crabs
                                                                                          that used to feature in their diet.

                                                                                          For the wreck diver, the devastating Able
                                                                                          and Baker bombs achieved something
                                                                                          positive. Bikini is simply the finest and
                                                                                          best – the ultimate in wreck diving.
                                                                                          Unlike Truk, this is a fleet of fighting
                                                                                          vessels, not freighters. These boats were
                                                                                          armed and ready for action at the instant
                                                                                          of the sea’s final embrace.

                                                                                          Fifty years after the first bomb Bikini was
                                                                                          declared safe for visitors and May 1996
                                                                                          saw the first divers visiting the island.




                                                                                                                                         Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
                                                                                          The diving is deep, some of the wrecks
                                                                                          are below the recognized recreational
                                                                                          limits, and stage decompression can be
                                                                                          expected, but only air is used to dive
                                                                                          and Nitrox is used for decompression
                                                                                          purposes. The sea bed within the lagoon
                                                                                          is at 56 metres and dives in the morning
                                                                                          are usually to depths of between 30
                                                                                          and 40 metres, but increase throughout
                                                                                          the week so that it should be possible
                                                                                          to descend to 52 metres for a full dive
                                                                                          on the stern of USS Saratoga (subject
                                                                                          to local conditions). Subject to divers’
                                                          USS Apogon (Rico Oldfield)       profiles, shallower afternoon dives may
                                                                                          be available. None of the wrecks have
                                                                                          been salvaged. They lie as they sank,
                                                                                          complete with all that floated through
Season: March-November                        The 167 Bikini Island residents had been    the sea with them on their last journey,
Visibility: 25-50 metres                      moved out by March 1945 in preparation      creating the world’s most amazing wreck
Water temperature: 27-29°C                    for Operation Crossroads (they are yet      diving.
                                              to move back) and between 1946 and
Bikini Atoll, just about as isolated a        1958 America’s army and navy tested         USS Saratoga, launched in 1925 was,
place as it is possible to be, is one of 29   atomic and hydrogen bombs following         at the time of her sinking, one of the
atolls and five islands that comprise the      a directive from President Harry S.         world’s biggest aircraft carriers, longer
Marshall Islands, which are scattered         Truman indicating that it was necessary     than the Titanic. She had been hit by five
over 357,000 square miles of the Pacific       “to determine the effect of atomic bombs    kamikaze attacks and had seen action
Ocean, north of the equator. Seriously        on American warships”. The first bomb        in WWII throughout the Pacific. As the
remote, and with some seriously               missed the target ship by half a mile       world’s only diveable aircraft carrier, she
incredible wrecks, this holy grail for        and sank only vessels within a hundred      holds the limelight as the star of Bikini.
wreck divers is well worth the effort.        metres. The second bomb exploded 25         With over 1000 watertight compartments
There is simply nothing to match it,          metres below the surface and was far        and in spite of being moored a mere
anywhere in the world.                        more destructive, sending two million       300 metres from the Baker blast, it took
                                              tons of water over a mile high. Many        over 8 hours for her to sink. She now
By 1946 the Americans had amassed an          more vessels sank. Others were scuttled     sits upright on the seabed at 40 metres.
incredible assortment of vessels in Bikini    in deep water, and the biggest ghost fleet   Saratoga is enormous and divers will
Atoll: submarines, landing craft, a WWI       in the world was formed. More than half     normally carry out their first, check-
Dreadnought Battleship, a German battle-      the world’s supply of motion picture film    out dive to inspect the flight deck
cruiser, the battleship Nagato (Japanese      was used to record the two bombs, Able      and bridge, 25 metres above the sea
Admiral Yamamoto’s flagship) and the           and Baker, and the exile of the Bikini      bed. Throughout the week divers will
immense USS Saratoga (an aircraft carrier     people.                                     gradually explore deeper levels including
with the capacity to carry 90 aircraft).                                                  the aircraft hanger deck (where you can
Eighty four vessels were gathered to form     More was to come. In 1954 the biggest       explore three ‘Helldiver’ single-engine
this impressive but doomed fleet.              nuclear device ever exploded in the         dive bombers and an ‘Avenger’ torpedo
                                  138 Divequest 2008–2009                                      For reservations or enquiries call 01254 826322

                                 bomber), the torpedo room (with rows of        to the bottom by Baker. It took four days     learn is all that is needed.
                                 500 pound bombs), the bow and storage          for her to sink.
                                 quarters and eventually, the stern on the                                                    There is no rental diving equipment
                                 sea bed at 52 metres.                          USS Anderson is a 349-foot destroyer          available (other than computers suitable
                                                                                which now lies on her side in 50 metres       for decompression diving) and the
                                 USS Lamson, a 341-foot destroyer, was          of water. She saw active service in the       following is a list of recommended
                                 capable of 36.5 knots and was armed            Pacific, having acted as a screen for          equipment in addition to mask, fins,
                                 with five 5-inch guns, three 21-inch            battleships at the Battle of the Coral Sea    gloves and boots: • Primary regulator
                                 torpedo tubes and four 50-calibre              and at Midway. She was damaged by             – first stage, low pressure hose, second
                                 machine guns. She now sits upright on          grounding on a coral reef and was sent        stage, BC inflator hose, high pressure
                                 the seabed at around 50 metres, having         to Pearl Harbour for repair, but ended        hose, submersible pressure gauge
                                 been sunk on to her side by Able, and          her days as one of the few ships sunk by      • Secondary regulator: first stage,
                                 turned upright by the Baker blast. During      Able.                                         low pressure hose, second stage •
                                 her active life, USS Lamson spent a                                                          BC/harness: back inflation preferred•
                                 month searching for Amelia Earhart after       On the last day there will be a trip to       Snorkel if desired (not used for the
                                 she vanished on her trans-Pacific flight         Bikini’s Shark Pass where a remarkable        deep dives) • Wet suit: 3 mm or 5 mm
                                 and saw active service at the battle of        population of sharks, including Grey          and a hood • Primary light • Back-
                                 Guadalcanal. With her impressive array         Reef and Silvertip, can be found where        up light (bring two if you are going to
                                 of guns and torpedoes, this is a very          the lagoon opens into the Pacific. The         do extensive penetrations – only for
                                 photogenic wreck and a great favourite         sharks are protected from the ravages of      qualified divers) • Cutting tool • Dive-
                                 with underwater photographers. Though          shark-finning fleets as the boats ceased        Alert and safety marker buoy (sausage
                                 her superstructure is badly damaged,           coming to this area after the crew of one     style – can be substituted by a lift bag)
                                 the lines of the destroyer are still plain     boat was killed by the nuclear fallout in     • Dive computer (few computers are
                                 to see. The ghostly outline appears to be      1954.                                         suitable for decompression diving: please
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands




                                 steaming along the sea bed, guns ready                                                       check with us if you are uncertain) •
                                 for action.                                                                                  Back up dive computer/ depth gauge and
                                                                                DIVING NOTES                                  tables • Safety reel and lift bag.
                                 USS Apogon is a 311-foot Balao class
                                 submarine, which carried a crew of 6           Bikini’s remote site is served only once a    On Bikini they provide twin steel tanks
                                 officers and 60 enlisted men. In active         week by a commuter flight and therefore        with isolation manifolds and the tank
                                 service Apogon sank two Japanese               strict weight restrictions apply. The free    bands in place. They also have single 15
                                 vessels, three were unconfirmed                 baggage allowance on the flight is only        litre tanks with an H-valve for those who
                                 ‘sinkings’ and she caused damage to two        30 pounds with an excess charge of            do not have BCs suited for double tank
                                 others. At one stage she was on sentry         US $1.50 per pound (subject to space          setups. Either setup is acceptable.
                                 duty outside Truk Lagoon. She was armed        availability).
                                 with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, one                                                          There is no decompression chamber
                                 5-inch deck gun and anti-aircraft guns.        Before each dive a full briefing gives         on Bikini. The nearest chamber is at
                                 Unaffected by Able, Baker succeeded in         divers the vessel’s history and unique        Kwajalein.
                                 sinking her, and she now rests upright on      characteristics. A very comprehensive
                                 the seabed in 54 metres, looking for all       dive plan is delivered. On the ascent         Divers visiting Bikini are required to have
                                 the world as if she is ready to lift off and   divers normally make a stop at 25             a medical evaluation by their own doctor
                                 continue her journey once again. Her           metres, and another at 15 metres. A           and are also required to read a copy of
                                 hatches are closed. The aft torpedoes are      three level decompression trapeze             W L Robinson’s radiological status report
                                 loaded and primed ready for use. It is         is attached to the dive boat offering         (which we will supply).
                                 possible to enter the hull. As one of the      stages at 9, 6 and 3 metes. Nitrox is
                                 deeper dives, Apogon is usually dived          supplied to divers at these stages to
                                 towards the end of the week.                   enhance decompression. The maximum
                                                                                depth of dives is 53 metres. Divers do        BIKINI ATOLL DIVERS
                                 HIJMS Nagato, a Japanese battleship,           not need to be ‘tech’ divers to dive
                                 was once the pride of the Japanese Fleet       Bikini’s wrecks, but a minimum of 50          Up to 11 divers can be accommodated
                                 and Admiral Yamamoto’s flagship and             dives is recommended so that you              in basic but comfortable air-conditioned
                                 played her part in the attack on Pearl         are comfortable with buoyancy and             rooms (there are some rooms with ceiling
                                 Harbour. On her bridge the plans for           ascent rate control. IANTD courses            fans) with en-suite bathrooms. There is
                                 the attack were developed by Admiral           are available on the island: Advanced         24 hour electricity and hot water. Buffet-
                                 Yamamoto. From here the orders were            Nitrox, Technical Diver, EANx Wreck           style meals are offered for breakfast,
                                 sent forward for the attack that caught        Diver (Wreck Penetrations) and Nitrox         lunch and dinner. All food is imported
                                 Pearl Harbour unawares. Nagato was             Blender courses are available. For those      from Hawaii, California or New Zealand.
                                 armed with eight 45-calibre guns, twenty       who wish to extensively penetrate the         Water is made in the reverse osmosis
                                 50-calibre guns, three machine guns,           wrecks, it is essential that you have a       plant. There is a pool table, table tennis
                                 eight torpedo tubes and four anti-aircraft     cave diver qualification. We can make          table, a weights room and a large screen
                                 guns. She was launched in 1919 and             arrangements for you to book on weeks         TV video room plus a DVD player.
                                 rebuilt around 1935. She saw active            that have the same skill level.
                                 service at the Battle of Midway and Leyte                                                    Bikini Atoll Divers offer 7 nights
                                 Gulf. She now lies upside down with the        Advanced Open Water divers with no            packages commencing every Wednesday
                                 infamous bridge on the seabed by the           previous knowledge of technical diving        from March to November.
                                 side of the main superstructure. She lies      or decompression have dived Bikini and
                                 in 51 metres of water, having been sent        really enjoyed their trip. A willingness to   £1536 (non-divers: £885)
       email divers@divequest.co.uk                                                      Divequest 2008–2009 139

Includes:                                    £1678 for departures March to April        to Bikini Atoll into perspective. Pearl
• Airport transfers in Bikini.               (excluding Easter), November               Harbour is home to the battleship USS
• 7 nights full board (breakfast, lunch      £1824 for departures May to June,          Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial.
and dinner) on a twin/share basis at         September to October                       It was on board the 01 veranda deck
Bikini Atoll.                                £1846 for departures at Easter             of the Missouri that General Douglas
• 12 decompression dives, dive guide,        £1924 for departures early July, late      MacArthur and Fleet Admiral Chester
cylinders and weights, air fills and deco     August                                     Nimitz, along with other US and
Nitrox.                                      £1992 for departures mid-July to mid-      Allied officers, accepted the formal and
                                             August                                     unconditional surrender of the Japanese
Important: Single occupancy is not                                                      in 1945. Walk around the decks and
available at Bikini and divers travelling    Weekend Supplement: £10 each way for       superstructure and you will soon begin
alone must book on a willing to share        departures from London or Honolulu on      to realize the scale of the underwater
basis.                                       Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.             treasures awaiting you in Bikini. The
                                                                                        USS Arizona is the final resting place for
Group Reductions: There is a reduction       Includes:                                  many of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who
of £182 per person for a group of 8          • Scheduled flights London (Heathrow)/      lost their lives on 7th December 1941
divers and a reduction of £339 per           Los Angeles/London (Heathrow) by           when at 0810 she exploded, having been
person for a group of 11 divers (plus a      United Airlines.                           hit by a 1,760 pound armour-piercing
free place for a 12th diver).                • Scheduled flights Honolulu/Majuro/        bomb that slammed through her deck
                                             Honolulu by Continental Micronesia         and ignited the forward ammunition
Deposit: £300 per person                     Airlines.                                  magazine. It took less than 9 minutes
                                             • Scheduled flights Majuro/Bikini/Majuro    for this huge battleship to sink with
                                             by Air Marshall Islands.                   the tragic loss of so many seamen. The
                                                                                        56-metre memorial structure spans the




                                                                                                                                     Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
FLIGHTS                                      Sample Itinerary (including 1 night        mid-portion of the sunken battleship and
                                             Honolulu, 1 night Majuro and 7 nights      consists of three main sections: the entry
The airfares shown here were typical         Bikini)                                    and assembly rooms, a central area and
economy fares available at the time of       Day 1 (Sunday): Depart London              the shrine room, where the names of
going to press. We will quote you the        (Heathrow) in the afternoon. Arrive        those killed on the Arizona are engraved
airfare applicable, based on current fare    Honolulu in the evening. Stay overnight.   in marble. A shuttle bus to Pearl Harbour
levels and booking class availability,       Day 2 (Monday): Depart Honolulu in         is available from Best Western The Plaza
at the time of booking. Our quote,           the morning. Day 3 (Tuesday): Arrive       Hotel at a cost of US$5.
which will include all taxes and fuel        Majuro in the morning, after having
supplements applicable at the time of        crossed the International Dateline. Stay
quotation, as well as our service charge,    overnight. Day 4 (Wednesday): Depart       OVERNIGHTS IN MAJURO
may be higher or lower than the airfares     Majuro in the morning. Arrive Bikini
indicated here. The usual airfare deposit    in the afternoon. Afternoon check out      The Marshall Islands Resort is a pleasant
is £250.                                     dive. Days 5-10 (Thursday-Tuesday):        ‘island style’ hotel with air-conditioned
                                             Six days diving in Bikini Atoll. Day       rooms with en-suite bathrooms,
                                             11 (Wednesday): Depart Bikini in           restaurant and bar. Transfers from the
UNITED AIRLINES                              the afternoon. Arrive Honolulu early       airport are included. The cost is £33 per
                                             the same day, having re-crossed the        night on a twin/share, room-only basis.
Midday departure on United Airlines          International Dateline. Depart Honolulu    A single occupancy supplement of £30
from London (Heathrow) on Sunday,            that same morning. Day 12 (Thursday).      per night applies.
arriving in Honolulu in the evening,         Midday arrival at London (Heathrow).
after a change of aircraft in Los Angeles.
After an overnight stay in Honolulu                                                     COMBINING BIKINI WITH TRUK
depart on Monday morning for                 OVERNIGHTS IN HONOLULU
Majuro, arriving on Tuesday morning                                                     Why not extend your holiday in Bikini
(after having crossed the International      We can reserve rooms at the                Atoll with a visit to Truk Lagoon.
Dateline) for an overnight stay.             Best Western The Plaza Hotel for           Explore Truk’s fascinating wrecks for
Wednesday morning flight from Majuro          approximately £45 per person per night,    the wreck treat of a lifetime. Following
arriving in Bikini in the afternoon.         payable locally in US$, on a twin/share,   a Wednesday departure from Bikini
Return flights leave Bikini via Majuro        room-only basis. The single occupancy      and an overnight stay in Majuro, the
on Wednesday afternoons, arriving in         rate is double. The hotel is very          flight departs from Majuro on Thursday
Honolulu very early the same day (after      conveniently situated at the entrance to   morning and arrives in Truk in the
re-crossing the International Dateline!)     Honolulu International Airport and has     afternoon. Return flights depart from
in time to connect with a Wednesday          a free shuttle bust service.               Truk on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday
morning flight to London (Heathrow),                                                     morning and arrive in Honolulu, via
arriving at midday on Thursday.                                                         Majuro, early the same day (after you
                                             HONOLULU STOP-OVERS: PEARL                 re-cross the International Dateline)
Concessionary rates are available for        HARBOUR, THE USS ARIZONA                   in time to connect with a Monday,
connecting flights between Leeds/             MEMORIAL AND THE BATTLESHIP                Wednesday or Friday morning flight to
Bradford, Manchester, Teesside,              USS MISSOURI                               London (Heathrow), arriving at midday
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and                                                         the following day. Contact us for cost
London. Please contact our office for         A day in Honolulu and a visit to Pearl     and itinerary details, which depend on
details.                                     Harbour will help to put your visit        length of stay in Truk.

				
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