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Thread: Bikini Atoll wrecks - USS Apogon ***IMAGE INTENSIVE***

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    Default Bikini Atoll wrecks - USS Apogon ***IMAGE INTENSIVE***


    First of all my profuse apologies for the delay in this report I promised you a couple of weeks back. One new motherboard in our computer later and I'm able to get on with it finally today.

    To remind you then, back in 2006 TJ and I had a windfall so we opted to get a round the world ticket and vist both Bikini Atoll and Truk Lagoon to carry out some dives on what were at that time some of the most inviting shipwrecks in the world. Bikini Atoll was the site of many atomic bomb detoinations by the Americans commencing in 1946 and in the process of this testing many ships were sunk over the next ten years. The second bomb, known as the Baker test, was detonated underwater rather than as an air drop and a redundant submarine, the USS Apogon, was moored at a depth of some 30 metres in order to test the effects of the detonation. Quite how they managed to submerge a sub and anchor it in position at that depth then get the crew out is beyond me and rather impressive if you think about it! She lies now on a near even keel on the bottom of the atoll and is covered in a mass of whip corals so fine that even from relatively close up the shape of the submarine appears blurred. By way of comparison we dived a second submarine some time later in the Med and she looked totally different!


    Apogon had a most distinguished career. Her build commenced in 1942. Named after a species of broad bodied tropical fish, she finally left the slipway in 1943. Her first victim was a Japanese gunboat called Daido Maru which she sank on 4th. Deecember 1943.

    Things did not always go all her own way though. After a handful of further sinkings Apogon attacked a nine ship Japanese convoy off the Philippines and in the process was rammed by a frieghter which turned and attacked after spotting her periscope. About 8 feet of her main periscope together with her radio and radar installations were sheared off and the periscope supports were badly damaged. Apogon returned to Pearl Harbour for repairs and a re-fit. She left harbour again in September 1944 and soon sank a patrol craft on the 23rd off the Hunil Islands. A few days later she engaged the Japanese frieghter Hachirogata Maru and succesfully added her name to her list of successful sinkings. During her sixth patrol on the 20th November she attacked and badly damaged a tanker however her next "kill" proper was not until the 18th. June, 1945. After attacking a convoy she sank a 2,614-ton transport, Hakuai Maru and then on the 2nd. July, she severely damaged a small submarine chaser.

    Apogon began her eighth and final patrol on 7th. August, 1945 in the Marcus Islands area. She made no attacks during this patrol because the Japanese surrendered on the 15th. Augsut after the two atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese mainland. She was placed on the reserve and then decommissioned on the 1st. October, 1945, at Pearl Harbour.

    As a decommisoned boat her fate was to become part of the Baker test fleet assembled at Bikini Atoll several months later.

    Today... she is a pretty amazing dive despite the fact that you cannot get inside her. A few months before we dived her the Bikini Divers guides had managed to open the conning tower hatch and one of them almost suffered an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal uncontrolled rapid ascent in the air bubble which burst out from inside the tower. He fortunately recovered control and was none the worse for his mishap. At that time anti-aircraft ammunition for the deck guns was recovered from the conning tower and placed on the platform for visiting divers to see. What the visiting divers cannot see particularly though is any readily apparent damage from the atomic bomb being detonated within a few hundred feet! Her teak deck planking is still in relatively good condition and there are no gaping holes in the hull. It would appear then that she was not holed per se; rather the pressure wave from the blast burst open her many water tight seals and she slowly filled up and settled on the bottom. Quite remarkable!

    During our dive I filmed her with my rather ancient Hi 8 Handicam and I was so wrapped up in the viewfinder I failed to see a 10 foot long shark patrolling just below me. We are far from sure but a little while later during our long, slow ascent on the mooring line our guide started screaming at us through his regulator to turn to face a similarly sized shark making a very fast run at TJ. Apparently they like the colour yellow and she had bright yellow fins and a yellow edged buoyancy compensator! Anyhow she's still here and there are no significants bits missing! :)



    The piccies...




    The USS Apogon before her sinking...






    Descending to the wreck at 50 metres or so in rather hazy conditions due to a summer plankton bloom.






    Head stuck fast in the viewfinder, a picture of concentration!







    Whip corals festoon the wreck.









    Our American guide Jen points out the open exterior door of a bow torpedo tube.









    Swimming forward along part of the upper hull.









    Here the outerskin of the boat has gone through in a large hole where the ceasless movement of the mooring chain has acted as a kind of giant saw.
    Just as on all the Bikini Atoll lagoon wrecks artifacts have been gathered up from all around and placed here for visiting divers to see.










    This is not suspended silt in the water like you would encounter on practically every dive in UK waters, it is actually myriads of tiny, tiny fish known locally as glass fish.










    That's me with the camera and beyond is the sub's conning tower.









    A quick pose for the stills photographer! :p









    And here's those AA shells I mentioned in the write up up top. Interestingly the tarnish on the copper from contact with the
    sea water was still very light because these shells had been trapped in an air pocket in the conning tower for 60 years.










    The secondary armament.









    Divers posing on the radar array









    This amiable chap actually worked for the Americans at the uber hush hush "Star Wars" missile base on the next nearest Marshall island of Kwajalein.









    It wasn't until we looked at the film I shot that we spotted the huge shark I was swimming over at this point.
    Sadly TJ didn't spot it either or she'd have pointed it out and we'd have a piccie! She was also glued to the viewfinder of the stills camera










    At the stern now and our last look before we leave her.









    Only a few days later we stopped off on Hawaii and whilst we were in the naval museum at Pearl Harbour we found Apogon's actual battle penant which documents her kills as sewn on mini flags!

    ]




    And in the harbour Apogon's sister submarine is moored as a living monument to the US Navy's submariners.





    All credit for these photographs goes to my diving/urbex/life wifey-type partner TJ - way to go gal


    Thanks for looking...
    Last edited by TeeJF; 15th Aug 12 at 15:28.
    Veni, Vidi suum custos canis admorsus meus culus...

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  4. #2
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    Awome quite awsome
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    Great stuff, I love these reports.
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    As always fantastic,

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    Nice bud very nice...got a housing for the Canon yet?

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    Always worth waiting for! Great report Thanks
    It'll all turn to dust and we'll all fall down

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    Once again awesome pics must dust of my snorkel and flippers:)

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    Quote Originally Posted by teeheehee View Post
    Once again awesome pics must dust of my snorkel and flippers:)
    They are called Fins you heathen flipper is a dolphin ;)
    May the shadow of Murphy never darken your door."
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    As always, thank you all so much for your kind comments, it really makes it a pleasure to share these pix with you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Priority 7 View Post
    Nice bud very nice...got a housing for the Canon yet?
    No Mart I haven't. My old Sony Hi Def handycam has a housing which is brilliant and although the camera is a bit old hat now (tape format) it still produces full 1080p and I'm then able to cull still images from the video. So no point in housing the Canon yet I don't think.

    Sadly too I'm not certain if we will dive again. TJ had a bad scare in Malta the last time we dived and she's finding it difficult to face her fears and get back in the water. I think what it amounts to is the rebreather is both very demanding to operate and very heavy and it may well be that it's just a step too far for her. I am hoping we might get a SCUBA trip under our belt somewhere this winter to try to ease her back into things though. Time will tell.

    Quote Originally Posted by night crawler View Post
    They are called Fins you heathen flipper is a dolphin ;)
    Ha ha! Thus speaks a BSAC man methinx! I haven't heard that comment for years!!! Proper made me smile. :)
    Last edited by TeeJF; 16th Aug 12 at 11:52. Reason: Condensing replies.
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    Cracking detailed report &| images,well worth waiting for,Thank you.

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