EXPEDITION ALEXANDER HAMILTON 2011-2013.
The phone rang. It was Sigurdur “Sigge” Harlsson on the other line who told me that he got marks for a ship that sank 28 miles outside Reykjavik. He was very excited and updated me that the Icelandic Coast Guard managed to identify the ship as US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton using a Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV). Sigge’s words were “we have to dive this ship”. This was the start of an amazing adventure that lasted over three years and brought us all memories for a lifetime.
US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton | Promote your Page too
From Expedition Hamilton 2011.
The attacks on Peal Harbor happened just a month before. US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton, named after the Treasure Secretary with the same name, was on a mission to guide ships safely to destinations in the northern Atlantic. The German type VIIC Submarine U-132 came in silently and was undetected. The torpedo hit the starboard side that instantly killed seven crew members onboard Hamilton and many more got injured. Salvage attempts were made without success and the American Destroyer USS Ericsson fired upon the wreck three times to send her to the bottom of the sea.
All the gear is packed and ready, all 220 kg of it. We were on our way. We were four divers on the expedition. Aron and I flew in from Egypt and Sigge and Valgeir “Valle” Petursson was already based on Iceland. Our expedition mission statement was simply to see if a dive on Alexander Hamilton was possible and to open way for a second expedition where we together with the support of the related family members of the crew were to attach a memorial plaque to honor those brave men who sacrificed their life for our freedom.
The two weeks prior to the dive on Hamilton was spent training and preparing. Gisli Arnar Gudmundsson, owner of the dive center “Dive the North”, showed us the giant submarine looking cones called Strytan in Eyjafjordur. These geothermal chimneys are unique in the sense that they are the only ones of its kind shallow enough to dive without a submarine. According to many scientists it was at chimneys similar to these, who support life through chemosynthesis rather than sunlight, where life once started. We also dived the British steamship El Grillo at Seyoisfjordur, who sank in 1944 as a result of an attack by the German Air force who came in from Norway. The training between the tectonic plates in Silfra, apart from having perhaps best visibility in the world and being a spectacular dive, prepared us for the cold water environment we were about to encounter. We also did some deep dives at Lake Kleifarvatin where something very interesting occurred. Valle said this after the dive “We were at 75 meters and I was thinking that Jonas, who was the dive leader, was lost. He was swimming in circles without any real direction. Jonas looked at me with a smile and a bit of a confused facial expression”. After we came up I explained that the compass needle was suddenly pointing in the opposite direction. We talked to a few scientists on Iceland who explained to us that 700,000 years ago the magnetic field was opposite to each other. By diving in areas exposed to rocks from that time the compass actually got a reading where north was pointing south and vice versa. Sigge later stated that “always trust your compass, except when diving on Iceland” as a joke referring to diving organizations text books that teach the divers to “always trust their compass’.
From Expedition Hamilton by OceanReef 2013. Trailer.
We boarded the ship with its crew: Sigurjon, Veigar Pordarson, his father, safety divers and surface support from the “Sport Diving Club of Iceland”. The journey took over five hours, but the sea was as friendly as the Icelandic Sea gets. We constantly looked at the sonar and suddenly there was something. At the exact coordinates that we had received from the Icelandic Coast Guard, there was a shape of a large ship. We descended down. At 80 meters I still could not see anything, but there was no current to talk about. I remember thinking “could we have done a mistake, did we see a ghost on the Sonar”. At 90 meters and still nothing. Suddenly there she was, at 95 meters lying peaceful on the side. The proud US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton at her final resting place.
Hope to see you all at the DEMA Show for the full video of Expedition Hamilton by OceanReef.
More about Expedition Hamilton by OceanReef…
Media Introduction: The US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton became the first US loss after the Pearl Harbor in December 1941. A.H. was attacked by an VII Class German Submarine, resulting in the death of 26 men serving on the cutter, while escorting a convoy to Iceland and within sight of land at the end of January 1942.
12th August, 2013
WE DID IT! Thanks to Ocean Reef for making it happen!! We attached the memorial plaque to Alexander Hamilton. Was a challenging dive, 95m deep, low visibility and 5 degree water with 100min run time. Through the collaboration of many people and a good team spirit we where able to make this dream become a reality. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all that was involved. From the TBI Team, Jonas, Erik, Aron and Chris.
A change in the weather has moved the dive of USCG Alexander Hamilton forward a day. Today the team prepared for diving Alexander Hamilton. We mixed our gases, worked out final logistics including the best way to take the plaque to the wreck and visited the yacht we would be diving from, loaded our equipment and discussed the best way to dive from it. Everything ran smooth and helped create a less stressful diving day. Tomorrow morning we leave for the big dive. The team is super excited that after 2 years the day has finally arrived.
10th August, 2013
Today the team was lucky enough to be invited to dive Tordenskjold wreck. Erlendur Gudmundsson discovered the wreck which it’s location is still kept secret for protective purposes till local gov’t and historical interests can be accomplished. Great day and fit perfect into the expedition theme of diving virgin wrecks.
9th August, 2013
The Team headed north after yesterday’s dives to a town called Strýtan. It is here, in the middle of Hjalteyri we dove the geothermal chimneys – a truly unique dive site! Hot springs have been releasing fresh hot water into the ocean. As soon as the dissolved minerals in the hot fresh water get in contact with the cold ocean water, they coagulate. Throughout the last approx. 10.000 years this process has created chimney’s up to 55 meter tall made of limestone.
It is the only known place in the world recreational divers can explore this phenomenon and the flora and fauna that have developed and settled under these special circumstances. In the cooler waters its nice to feel the hot water (75degrees) that wells out of the chimmney’s.
8th August, 2013
Today the team went back to explore more of Silfra. There are many passages, overhangs and caves at this site, however there are strict rules to be followed here including not going deeper the 18m and not entering the over head sections. Our team has asked for a special pass to allow us access to some of these off bound areas. So I guess its another reason to come back to Silfra towards the end of the trip. Even with these rules in place there is still plenty to see and be inspired by.
7th August, 2013
Helium and Oxygen arrived today. Took months of organising due to the shortage in Iceland. So glad to see the aga truck pulling up in the drive way. Bring on the diving tomorrow. Finally after 2 years we received the plaque from the families which honors the people that died on the USGC Alexander Hamilton. Thanks to Audinn chief of operations at Icelandic Coast Guard for keeping it for us.
6th August, 2013
Another great dive at Silfra today. Hard to get over how good the visibility is here. The Integrated Diving Mask’s by Ocean Reef worked a treat to defend the 3 degree temperatures and the ease of underwater communication was an added benefit for Erik when directing today’s underwater footage. After the dive we were drawn in by Icelandic’s natural beauty and went to visit Gullfoss Waterfall and Strokkur Geysir.
5th August 2013
After a long anticipated wait, we finally got in the water today to test out various equipment including Ocean Reef’s Integrated Diving Mask, Communication Systems and Camera Gear. The dive site today was Silfra with over 80m visibility is was breath taking. The cool temperatures of 3 degrees was also a little breathing taking at the start . Today’s test dive was important to test out our equipment, make minor adjustments and to fix issues before we move onto the next stage of the expedition.
3rd August, 2013
After years of planning we are finally back in Iceland to finish off what we started in 2011. Today we met up with fellow team member Chris Haslam who flew in from Sweden for the expedition. With all the team together we have been going through logistics and making final preparations for the days to come. Above the surface the scenery in Iceland is breathtaking and has really set the mood for the adventure to come.
20th of July, 2013
Expedition Alexander Hamilton / OceanReef is going to be published on the online diving community Scuba Diver Life so make sure you follow latest development there as well.
19th of July, 2013
First newspaper article coming out about Expedition Alexander Hamilton by OceanReef. The article is published in the largest Icelandic paper called Morgunbladid. Read article from this morning here.
July 18th, 2013
So its all set. Tickets booked (3rd of August), boat, house, car organized. We are going to use the following schedule. Changes might occur but the dates for Hamilton 13-14 is set due to logistics.
Media statement from: Sergio Gamberini, President OceanReef Group.
“We are proud to announce our full sponsorship of the Alexander Hamilton Expedition by OCEAN REEF
The Expedition will be handled during August 2013 by Team Blue Immersion :
Jonas Samuelsson – Dive leader (Sweden)
Aron Arngrimsson – Attaching plaque (Iceland)
Erik Brown – Video (Canada)
Chris Haslam – Safety Diver (Australia)
4th of August: Arrive on Iceland
5th- 6th of August: Preparation
7-10th of August: 70-95 meter dives in Lake Kleifarvatn
11-12th of August: Preparing logistics for the Hamilton dives
13th of August (weather dependant): Attach the memorial plaque on Hamilton.
15th of August: departure.
Our mission is to honor the crew members of the US Coast Guard Ship”
Sergio Gamberini, President, OCEAN REEF Group
So planning for Expedition Hamilton 2013 started. The family members of the brave men that fought and died on Hamilton produced a memorial plaque in the United States and its already in the Icelandic Coast Guards HQ in Reykjavik. We are going to attach that plaque during our dives in June 2013. So its started…
“Team Blue Immersion would like to thank Dave Michigan and the rest of the families related to the US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton who kindly produced this beautiful and dignified plaque. Its an honor to be the team to place this memorial on the hull of US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton in June”
From the Captain of the EAGLE, Captain Eric Jones:
“Sailing large under topsails at 1525Z, EAGLE today passed over the final resting location of the cruising cutter ALEXANDER HAMILTON in Faxe Bay, Iceland. With the crew at quarters and the National Ensign at the dip, a wreath was laid on the site and taps was played. The National Ensign was then hauled up and struck, and folded by an honor guard. After presenting the folded Ensign to EAGLE’s junior crewmember, all hands sang “Semper Paratus” before the XO dismissed the crew. The Ensign will be delivered to the Coast Guard Historian upon our return to homeport. An Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter hovered overhead throughout the ceremony. Aboard were the U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, the Honorable Luis Arreaga, and the Acting Director of the Icelandic Coast Guard, CDR Asgrimur Asgrimsson (USCGA ’87).”
News, 12th January 2012: Team Blue Immersion would like to thank
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Coast Guard
Regional Advisor for Europe
for his support to Expedition Hamilton 2012. It means the world to us to have your support. The pictures show the ceremony the US Coast Guard had a few days after our dives on the US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton in June 2011. Pictures provided by the US Coast Guard.
From Ora Stone: “Thank you so much Jonas and the rest of the team for doing such a wonderful thing for my uncle Livingston Brooks and all the other men who lost their lives on the…Alexander Hamilton you are a wonderful team…”
“Jonas,, Your crew is in our thoughts and prayers.
Our hearts are gladdened. We are the Family of Michael T. Vas.
He was one of the young men who lost their lives on The USCGC Alexander
As men of the Sea you know what your work means to us.
We are looking forward to June 18-30, 2012
Expedition Iceland – Project Hamilton, 12.06.11-27.06.11
———————————— Television / Radio ———————————————————-
———————————— Expedition Blogger ———————————————————–
————————————Partners and Sponsors—————————————————-
THANKS TO ALL OUR SPONSORS – WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT THIS TRIP WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE