During the winter Clive indicated that this year might possibly be the last year he supports a search for the Bonhomme Richard, in his own words he indicated that "there is only so much ground one can cover". During past expeditions the charter boat has been out of port for anything up to a week during each search leg (weather permitting) 24 hours a day so as to maximise the available time and cover more ground.
Having ran expeditions each year since 2003, there is no doubt whatsoever that his endeavours have covered a vast swathe of of the seabed down off Flamborough. This will have come at quite a high price but one has to consider how long anyone can make it financially viable adding such vast sums year in year out? The photograph to the left is a more recent one of Clive, presented here courtesy of the Clive Cussler Collector's Society (CCCS).
Each year the results of the expedition are poured over in great detail hoping to unearth that vital clue. Last year produced more than one positive search result, with the need for a dive team on one occasion. This is a wreck site that Clive holds close to his heart and is one that he has always hoped to locate. I keep hoping that he will come across it after having expended so much time and effort throughout his expeditions. Each year I hope that the wreck site be located even if it means that I no longer have my yearly reunions with Clive, Dirk and Ralph, perhaps this might be the year!
Ocean Technology Foundation
It had been rumoured that the Ocean Technology Foundation was expected back again in 2010. In the past they have functioned differently to Clive, working from a day boat travelling to and from the search area each day. It is confirmation of the Bonhomme Richard's unique importance. This year though they had the unparallel use of the USNS Henson (T-AGS-63) a large Pathfinder class oceanographic survey ship.
The survey crew was composed of oceanographers from the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) who planned and coordinated the U.S. Navy's participation in the search. Representatives from the U.S. Naval Academy, Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval History and Heritage Command were also onboard the Henson to assist in the search and identification of found artifacts.
2010 is the fifth expedition organized by the OTF in which the Navy has participated and marks the largest collaboration to date with the most substantial support by U.S. Navy assets. The discovery of the Bonhomme Richard would be one of the most important archeological discoveries in U.S. Naval history. The following link presents a third party web page detailing the ships endeavours. that makes interesting reading.
In March I received an e-mail from Clive informing me that the charter vessel Ocean Dancer had been sold, my first fear was that this might add to Clive's concerns about supporting this year's expedition. I knew that the boat's owners John Mayo and Gary Goodyear had considered selling the boat in the past but had not done so, a listing on the Capital Boats website now though displayed it as having been sold. The ship was recently charted as being in the Mediterranean Sea, around the Bay of Algiers.
The e-mail, went on to explain that Dirk and Clive had agreed to ask if I might have a contact who could perhaps look around for a suitable replacement boat. I had some colleagues who could possibly help and gave them a 'shopping list' based on the criteria I knew of, namely a good work compartment, sleeping quarters and be equipped to run 24 hours. I started looking myself at what might be available and was initially surprised a charter vessel would be so difficult to find, especially since so many boats are laid up in port as a result of the recession lack of charters.
I returned Clive's e-mail with some suggestions of my own including a boat (Togo) that been berthed in Whitby at the same time as the Ocean Dancer. The boat ticked many of the criteria selections, however I could not find any contact details for the boat.
I also included another boat that was a possible option, it was a commercial boat in every sense and pretty much had everything needed for Clive to continue his expedition. With the e-mail sent, I awaited more feedback from Clive and Dirk although I did follow up with some more suggestions a little later. Dirk informed me that they had secured a boat and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was the one I suggested in my first response. I am not taking credit for sourcing a boat as Clive and Dirk might have already been negotiating with the owner, I take comfort though knowing that I was looking for a vessel that would have met with Clive's satisfaction.
Use the link below to open the first in a series of planned pages to learn about the replacement charter vessel.
To learn about this years expedition and a new book from the Cussler stable use the link below.