Jacques Cousteau's 'Search for the Britannic'


Status
Not open for further replies.
Feb 6, 2009
8
0
71
I stumbled across a series of Jacques Cousteau DVD's in a store recently for $5 (bargain). I was wondering if anybody else had seen it?

There is some excellent footage of the wreck and interviews with survivors that were fascinating. I haven't actually seen any other documentaries on the Britannic wreck so this was a good starting off point for me.

Although, there was one part when they knocked some tiles down and I got a little irritated. They were doing some salvaging and I'm still undecided as to how I feel about salvaging shipwrecks.

Still, it was interesting.
 
Jun 10, 1999
1,284
21
313
Felicity, I fairly recall seeing the original TV airing of the Jacques Cousteau Britannic exploration...they did in-fact penetrate at the grand staircase opening, correct? Could you please share the title of the DVD, perhaps it is available on-line. Thank you.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
Feb 6, 2009
8
0
71
They may have done an exploration of the grand staircase but I'm having a mental blank at the moment. They did quite a few explorations into the wreck.

The title of the DVD is "Calypso's Search for the Britannic/Diving for Plunder" and I've a couple of links for you:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/re...58f9e50e40a71a5414c6]Amazon.co.uk : Britannic (Amazon)

Hope this helps.

And Jeff, I was surprised to see them using an actual decompression chamber. They could only spend 15 minutes on the wreck at a time and then had to spend a couple of hours decompressing.

It was really interesting.
 
Feb 6, 2009
8
0
71
I'm sorry, I don't think I phrased my statement properly. I'm new to the world of diving and it was interesting for me to see them use an actual decompression chamber. It was the first time I'd ever seen one.
 
J

Jeff Brebner

Guest
The depth at which Britannic lies is accessible to tech divers, breathing mixtures of gases. At the same depth, a diver on air would be dealing with SERIOUS nitrogen narcosis, which begins to kick in at around 100 feet. Either way a diver would expect to spend hours decompressing (either in a chamber or hanging on to a rope at various depths, which can be a lot of fun if the current is bad and/or the water is cold) in return for a few minutes of bottom time.

I wouldn't want to try and find my way around something as big as Britannic narced half out of my mind!
 
Jun 10, 1999
1,284
21
313
Unfortunately, three divers lost their lives during the Chatteron & Kohler led, many years expedition to identify Hitler's lost sub, off the New Jersey coast. A father and his son both succumbed to the bends, when panic ensued at the wrecks depth...if I recall 230'.

The 2 hr. documentary aired on PBS's NOVA in 2000 and is well worth watching time and again.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
J

Jeff Brebner

Guest
The book The Last Dive covers the father/son pair killed on that U-Boat. The son got stuck and the father went to help him. Both came up without decompressing. There are a couple books in which Chatterton and Kohler figure prominently. My favorite is Shadow Divers.
 
Jun 10, 1999
1,284
21
313
Jeff thanks for infor regarding The Last Dive.
I will be sure and get that one. Everytime I view the VHS "Hitler's Last Dive" I am touched by the dedication of the tech divers.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
69
398
Unfortunately, diving at depth doesn't allow for many errors. I think the original Cousteau expedition dived on air? These days you use a mixed gas set up (and often a rebreather, which is much less harmful to surrounding hull structure on penetration dives than open-circuit scuba), but it still involves limited bottom times and in-water decompression.

Just to clarify for the non-divers, Nitrogen Narcosis is not the same as Decompression Illness (DCI). Narcosis is caused by breathing elevated gasses at pressure. The effect is similar to intoxication - I've heard it called "the martini effect", as after it kicks in it feels like you've slammed down a martini for every 10 metres or so you descend - although that's not a hard and fast rule, as it effects different divers at different depths. One of its other names is "raptures of the deep", because it usually gives you a feeling of well being (although some people can hallucinate in extreme cases). It acts like Nitrous Oxide - laughing gass. Problem is, it impairs judgement and can give you inflated confidence and a sense of well-being. I've had it kick in on open-circuit air big time at around 40 metres - the world was just absolutely fabulous, and it was all good. Fortunately, most divers recognise the symptoms and respond - it can easily be counteracted by moving to a shallower depth. Unlike alcohol, its effects come on suddenly and can be almost immediately alleviated by going shallower. One of the things tested for in advanced recreational diving courses is the impact of nitrogen narcosis - divers are given a slate at depth and asked to do simple sums and see how long it takes them. I've heard some hair raising stories about what people can get up to when they're "narked" and of course it can be a major contributor to accidents as it hinders judgement.

DCI is far, far more serious (I've been narked, but I've never had DCI - and hope never to experience it). Simplistically explained, it's a form of baramtrauma, or pressure injury, and is caused by the expansion of gasses that accumulate in body tissues at depth. As we ascend, these gasses expand, form bubbles and cause damage to the tissues. There is a range of severity, from mild to extreme. People, again, react differently, and the exact perameters for getting a "hit" are still being studied.

This is why divers at depth have limited bottom times according to how deep they go (the longer and deeper you are, the more nitrogen is accumulating in your tissues), and have to stage their ascent to the surface to off-gas slowly. It is also why a diver suffering from DCI will be put in a decompression chamber that will return them to the pressure at which they absorbed the nitrogen, and then gradually bring them back to the surface atmospheric pressure, or some commercial and other divers who can't spend time in-water decompressing will use a chamber.

The "bends" is one manifestation of DCI - it is when the bubbles formed on ascent are near joints. The term is used more widely, though - even divers who did not experience this joint pain but who had other forms of DCI are often said to have been "bent" in colloquial dive-speak.

Divers keep a close eye out for symptoms - one warning sign is a tingling or cracking under the skin, an indication of microbubbles forming. Left untreated, there is increasing chance of injury or even death. It takes some time even after surfacing to completely off-gas - multiple dives on successive days will increasingly limit your depth and the amount of bottom time you have, and divers wait at least 24 hours after their last dive before flying, as the sudden change of pressure can bring on DCI. You have to be on watch for potential DCI symptoms for a couple of days after a dive.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,668
881
563
Easley South Carolina
>>I think the original Cousteau expedition dived on air? <<

I think you're right. Not much else was available at the time. I saw this documentary back when it first premiered and there was no hint that they were using exotic gas mixtures of any kind.
 
J

Jeff Brebner

Guest
I had just the opposite experience the one time I was narced. I was jumpy as a cat in a room full of Pitbulls and I was sucking air like mad. Intellectually I knew I should get my breathing under control, but couldn't. My first instinct was to head for the big air supply up top, but I wasn't so narced as to abandon my buddy in 100 feet of water. Instead I grabbed him and conveyed my problem via hand signals, and he (who felt fine) led us safely to shallower water.

I seem to remember Cousteau describing a diver in one of his books as chasing a tremendous Grouper, trying to share air with it. Nitrogen Narcosis definitely does odd stuff to your judgement.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
69
398
Alarming, Jeff! I've heard of people responding badly - I was always concerned that I'd become paranoid or even suffer hallucinations, but fortunately so far, just as some people are happy drunks, I'm a happy narkee.

Had friends who worked as dive masters on a boat in the Coral Sea. Years after they left the operation, they told me of how they would go out to Flinders Cay, drop down to 100 metres plus, and *take their fins off and try to run up the sandy sides of the wall*.

I like groupers - particularly the blue groupers we get around Sydney and the enormous Potato "cod" that we see up north in Queensland...so I can imagine that if my judgement became impaired I'd want to do some buddy breathing with one.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads