Peter McCamley is first up in the Roots Red Sea Room on Saturday at 10am with a very interesting talk about leading a team of international divers to carry out research projects on the wreck of The Lusitania in 2019.
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Almost 107 years after its sinking, the Lusitania still carries a shroud of suspense, intrigue and whispers from the depths demanding some serious questions to be answered.
The answers to these questions lie at a depth of 93metres, 11 miles past the Old Head of Kinsale in the cold, murky waters of The Atlantic, where the wreck of The Lusitania lies patiently waiting on people with a passionate desire to discover the truth of what actually took place that day in 07th May 1915, costing the lives of 1201 souls.
At the outset it was intended that in order to find out what the physical condition of the wreck was like, we would use a previously unused photographic technique called photogrammetry. This part of the project would be headed by Finnish diving expert Kari Hyttinen, and be assisted by professional diver, Dave Gration, who also had a world of photogrammetry knowledge, having worked together with Kari on previous projects around the globe.
All dives would only be with the owners permission and under a licence issued by The Department of Culture & Heritage. Hence with the assistance of Gerry Brown, work on the licence application began.
In February 2017, a Dive Team of 8 individuals, obtained both the permission from the Lusitania Owner and the Irish Government and a Licence to undertake the work on The Lusitania was issued and so began the task of ascertaining the physical condition of the wreck and if possible carry out an ecological study of the wreck. The mission and all associated works would be called Project 17.
In 2018, the original team with an additional 7 divers acquired a second licence and returned to carry on from where we had left off.
Conditions were far from ideal, however we persevered and managed 3 days diving out of a total of 16 days on site. It was at this time, that renowned artist and Lusitania guru, Stuart Williamson joined the team. Not being a diver and relying only on dive information and photographs, Stuart had done several paintings of The Lusitania lying in situ on the seabed since 2001. With the addition of professional diver, Steve Sanders to the team, the whole expedition went into overdrive.
In Aug 2019, this time with 3 major projects the original divers from the previous two dive teams + an additional 10 divers plus Dr Ger Dooley, head of Robotics from the University of Limerick and Dr Clare Fitzsimmons, Head of Marine Studies at Newcastle University, we returned again.
This time, blessed with ideal diving conditions, where out of a total of 16 days, we achieved 9 days diving, with 6 days diving, back to back.
Needless to say the volume of information retrieved was amazing.
If you would like to find out how it all came about and see what has been happening over the past three year, please come along as we would love to share our experience, of what has been achieved and what Project 17 has yet to do.
Sponsored by Roots Red Sea and Open Ocean Science Centres