Always Another Shipwreck
by Ellsworth Boyd (View More)
The SS Byron D. Benson is more than just another tanker sunk off North Carolina in the early stages of WW II. The 7,953-ton, 465-foot Tidewater Oil Company ship did her best to avoid sinking in Torpedo Junction where so many other American and Allied vessels were victimized by German U-boats.
Most people enjoy a banquet where they savor each delight from start to finish. For me, diving with the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Audio-Visual Command was an undersea smorgasbord that served the best courses from beginning to end.
Actually, we know what happened to the 356-foot-long, 2,500-ton Japanese submarine. It sank during a surprise attack by an Avenger bomber launched from the aircraft carrier USS Bogue, June 23, 1944. Faced with naval and air blockades that threatened to stifle Germany in WW II, Japan launched its secret C-3 type cargo submarine for transporting wartime raw materials to a naval base in Nazi occupied Lorient, France. Oh, and the gold? We’ll get to that in a moment.
How would you like to suit up on shore, walk out 20 feet on a marina dock, jump into 12 feet of water, and explore the remains of the Jefferson, a 20-gun brig built during the War of 1812? That’s what Kevin Crisman and Art Cohn did on three different occasions spanning six weeks of archaeological excavation.
In 1506, when Portugal navigator Tristan da Cunha discovered a remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean, he gave his name to it and planned to return and go ashore at a later date. He kept a log where he recounted a desire to explore “his” isle and three others: Nightingale, Gough and Inaccessible (named for difficulty in going ashore) islands that later became Tristan Archipelago.
Hattie Wells image provided by SeaView Systems