This dive site is called the Crash site because this is the location of the wreck of a small airplane. But this airplane didn't crash. It was an OS2U Kingfisher scout plane aboard the gunship USS Erie. It fell overboard after the USS Erie was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-163. This happened in the afternoon of November 12, 1942. The wreck of the airplane is widely scattered since then because of wave actions and most of the parts are not easily recognized. One part that is clearly recognized is one of the floats of this waterplane. But being underwater for more than 60 years it started deteriorating rapidly the last few years. So in order to try to save it for the future the plan was born to salvage this part. This is what we did during this dive.
A group of 8 divers met near the crash site. After a briefing where everyone got a task assigned we headed in the direction of the part. My task was to take pictures of the whole event. The part was at a depth of 23 meters. There the group worked to get
the part free from the surrounding coral and to put it in a net. Four divers took a corner of the net each and swam towards shore. Another diver took the part that connected the float to the wing of the plane. One diver was in charge of safety under water and we had one spare diver in case some extra help was needed.
The whole operation went flawlessly and after 18 minutes we were back on shore. After a short pause on the shore we went back into the water to get rid of the nitrogen. We went to the site were some parts of the USS Erie are located in about 6 meters of water. A large piece from the hull can be found there and a lot of smaller parts and artifacts.
After the dive the salvaged part was transported to a museum at the diveshop Trunkdivers.com near the plantation house Daniel. There it will be conserved.
For more information about the USS Erie and the story of its loss look at the following links: