The Last Frontier

Posted on: 26 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Go on a real adventure on two unique diving expeditions.

Specialist tour operator, WildWings, has been representing the unique underwater experiences designed and developed by Deep Ocean Expeditions (DOE) since 1998, when DOE undertook the first-ever diving expedition to the wreck of the RMS Titanic, at a depth of almost 4,000 metres.

Now Wild Wings are offering another first, the chance for travellers to participate in the first ever submersible dives in Bikini Atoll. Part of The Marshall Islands in the central Pacific, Bikini Atoll - is home to over 800 species of reef fish, 160 species of flourishing coral, and a myriad of sharks, turtles, rays, and clams. In addition there are 21 WWII wrecks including an aircraft carrier, two submarines, two attack transports, a battleship and two destroyers.

These unmanned navy vessels were not sunk as an act of war but as sacrificial victims whilst observing the effects of a nuclear test programme in the 1950’s. Bikini Atoll opened its waters to tourists in mid-1996 and is considered an adventurous dive destination with a breathtaking marine environment and turquoise green atolls.

Pacific Diving

In February 2006, expeditioners are being offered a unique ‘world-first’ opportunity - to dive the waters and wrecks of Bikini Atoll in a Deep Rover submersible. Free of the restrictions of bottom time and decompression, the submersible will introduce divers (and non-divers) to the amazing undersea topography and an unsurpassed collection of World War II warships that inhabit this part of the ocean below scuba depths. The entirely transparent acrylic pressure hull of the two-man Deep Rover gives an unprecedented 320-degree view of the outside environment and has been likened to flying in a helicopter underwater.

The Bikini Atoll tour lasts 11 days and begins in February 2006. Participants meet in Honolulu, Hawaii and the trip costs £5,565 per person on a share basis, excluding flights.

Submersible Dives

The Akademik Keldysh - one of the best-known deep diving support vessels in the world, used for James Cameron’s epic motion picture Titanic – will take a 12-day expedition in May 2005 to the wreck of the German battleship, Bismarck, before returning to the world’s most famous shipwreck, RMS Titanic, for 10-day and 13-day expeditions in July 2005.

Discovery Channel are planning to broadcast a major live documentary on July 24 from 3,800 metres alongside the RMS Titanic wreck using state of the art fibre optic technology currently being developed.

Both journeys down to the wrecks will be aboard the MIR submersible, capable of dives to depths as great as 6,000 metres. The dives will take approximately 11-12 hours. On the RMS Titanic expedition, the powerful lights of the submersible will pick up the huge anchors, larger than the submersible, the bridge and the famous grand staircase.

The ship’s telemotor, the massive boilers, the propellers and the Marconi Room, from which the world’s very first SOS was broadcast, will all be seen. And amongst thousands of tonnes of twisted and corroding metal there may be glimpses of articles of a personal nature, such as ships bags or small ladies shoes, graphic and solemn reminders of the human loss.

Operation Bismarck visits the battleship at her final resting place, an area on the seafloor surrounded by a massive group of underwater volcanoes. The main section of the Bismarck is surprisingly intact, although showing signs of the large-scale damage wrought by the pounding of the British shells. Part of the main stern section has broken away and the main gun turrets are missing although many of the smaller guns, including the anti-aircraft guns are still in place.

All expeditions take a team of experts and lecturers onboard to assist participants in understanding the submersibles and the seas around them. And it wouldn’t be unusual to travel alongside scientists, filmmakers and adventurers all working together to record the flow of daily events and findings.

For more information on diving holidays visit: www.wildwings.co.uk

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