Tuesday, February 27, 2024


 27 February 2024: Almost two months down and only a couple left before Spring! Hang in, readers. It'll come - eventually! Last post we mentioned the possibility of Amelia Earhart's plane being discovered in the deep Pacific and promised you the story. This is pretty neat - if in fact it's true. From USA Today:


Amelia on a test flight in Oakland CA

 The disappearance of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart – so famous she could've been the Taylor Swift of her era – has captivated aviation fans and history buffs for 86 years. Now, her missing plane may have been found deep in the Pacific.

Deep Sea Vision, a marine robotics company in South Carolina, says undersea scans produced a blurry sonar image that may be Earhart's Lockheed 10-E Electra. Earhart, who was sometimes called "Lady Lindy" after Charles Lindbergh, was piloting the twin-engine craft in her attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world.

Tony Romeo, Deep Sea Vision's CEO, said the image appears to be that of a plane on the seafloor about 100 miles from Howland Island. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were heading for the island when they disappeared in July 1937.

The aircraft is at a depth of about 16,400 feet. By comparison, the Titanic is located at a depth of about 12,500 feet.

Deep Sea Vision said its 16-member crew used an an advanced underwater drone to scan more than 5,200 square miles of ocean floor in search of the aircraft.

The sonar image has intrigued archaeologists while others remain skeptical. Romeo plans another undersea visit to gather more visual evidence. A date has not been set.

US Navy searched for Earhart without success

Earhart and Noonan began their flight by leaving Oakland, California, and flying east on May 20, 1937. They landed in Australia on June 29 and left Lae, a territory of New Guinea, at about 10 a.m. on July 2, intending to refuel at Howland Island, 2,550 miles away.

At about 5 p.m. they radioed their position as being over the Pacific near Howland Island and said they were low on fuel. Earhart radioed again at about 8 p.m. It was their last transmission and they were never seen again.


The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard spent 16 days searching an area about the size of Texas for Earhart and Noonan without success. They were officially declared dead on Jan. 5, 1939.



Sure looks like a possible airplane to us, but time will tell. We will try to update when Deep Sea Vision makes another trip down to 16,000 feet below the surface! 

Until next time, 

                                       Fair Winds,

                                              Old Salt

Thursday, February 15, 2024


 15 FEBRUARY 2024: Mid-February folks and it's still winter! (well, not so much here in "winter quarters," but in lots of places here in the U.S. and abroad... Have faith, though, I have it on good authority (a buck toothed rodent) that spring is going to appear rather sooner than later! Fingers crossed! American football season is done and time can hang heavy til golf, boating, etc all get underway. Of course, the America's Cup is tuning up off the coast of Barcelona, so there's that to look forward to. Maybe we will offer an update on those activities in these pages in a month or so. Also some potentially exciting news on a story we posted a while back, on Amelia Earhart's disappearance. For today, however, the bizarre tale of the surrendered German cruiser, Prinz Eugen.  From Slash Gear Technology:



To say the end of World War II was hectic would be an understatement. Europe and a large portion of the Pacific Islands were left in shambles as Allied forces scrambled to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left to rebuild both areas of the world. On May 7th, 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered to Allied Forces in France and surrendered to Soviet forces on May 8th in Berlin. As a result of the surrender, the former Third Reich handed over tanks, guns, ships, research personnel and all manner of equipment to the Allies.

One such piece of surrendered equipment was the Prinz Eugen, a 697-foot Admiral Hipper Class German Heavy Cruiser named after Prince Eugene of Savoy, a 17th and 18th century Austrian general. When it was under command of the Nazi Kriegsmarine, the Prinz Eugen was fairly well known to the Allies. It had participated in the Battle of the North Atlantic, the naval engagement that saw the tragic loss of the British Royal Navy's HMS Hood and eventually the sinking of the German Battleship Bismarck. Additionally, the vessel fired its guns at Soviet targets in support of Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht operations At the end of the war, the Prinz Eugen had the distinction of being one of the few German warships that didn't become an artificial reef. 

Initially, the warship was foisted upon the Royal Navy right as the war ended. But it never saw combat on the Atlantic. It was destined for something much stranger.

The former Kriegsmarine vessel was put into a warship lottery of sorts. There it languished until December of 1945 when the U.S. Navy won the ship. Shortly afterwards, it was given the illustrious title of "unclassified miscellaneous vessel USS Prinz Eugen IX-300." With a fancy warship now in the possession of the U.S. Navy, you'd think it would be used to reverse engineer and build upon existing designs. But you'd be only partly correct. The sonar and fire control systems were removed for testing along with the seaplanes it carried.

But much like a Craigslist Mercedes years past its prime, the Prinz Eugen was nearly impossible to keep operational, even with a crew consisting of former members of the German Kriegsmarine who had served on the ship. The boilers that provided steam to propel the ship reportedly failed regularly and it was more pain than it was worth to keep above water. It was then that higher ups in command decided that the Prinz Eugen would end its career with a bang. It would be used for atomic testing.

Operation Crossroads was a test of nuclear weapons on a naval fleet at sea near the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific. The fleet was comprised of 90 vessels from the American Navy and captured Imperial Japanese and Kriegsmarine warships, the Prinz Eugen was inducted into the target fleet after being towed from Philadelphia. The first test was conducted on July 1st, 1946 when a 23-kiloton nuclear bomb named ABLE was detonated. Perhaps miraculously, the Prinz Eugen remained afloat.

 A second weapon named BAKER, also a 23-kiloton warhead, was detonated on July 25th, 1946. Yet, despite experiencing the not one, but two nuclear blasts with yields many times greater than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan to end the WAR, the Prinz Eugen survived, although this time damaged.

Eventually the warship succumbed to its wounds and unceremoniously capsized on December 22nd, 1946. The official cause of the Prinz Eugen's demise was getting nuked twice. But even nuclear hellfire isn't the end of the Prinz Eugen's story.

After capsizing near a coral reef near Enubui Island, part of the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands, the vessel was officially offloaded to the Marshall Islands. But the saga still isn't over. As one might expect, the citizens of the island chain weren't keen on having to deal with a nearly eight decade old battleship full of environmentally hazardous substances just sitting off their coast.

In 2010, the Republic of the Marshall Islands asked the U.S. Navy for help and it was happy to oblige. By 2018, a plan was enacted to siphon out remaining fuel from the 173 tanks onboard the Prinz Eugen. U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Tim Emge was tapped to lead the process of removing the trapped oil through a procedure known as hot tapping, essentially drilling multiple holes all over the capsized vessel.

Lt. Commander Emge said of the operation: "Hot tapping allows us to safely tie into the many tanks without leakage by creating a secure opening to place the valve, hot tap tool and pipe for pumping from the highest point on the tank. We were able to successfully, and most importantly safely, conduct over a hundred hot taps throughout the operation." Overall, around 250,000 gallons of fuel was removed from the wreck.

 Today, nearly 77 years after the Prinz Eugen rolled over in the shallow waters of the Pacific, it's still there. It is a popular site for recreational divers. 


So, should you be a diver and find yourself in the Marshall Islands and specifically, Enubui Island, take a look. Might be worth seeing! And keep a weather eye out for posts about the America's Cup run up and the news about Earhart's plane.

Until next time,

                                                  Fair Winds,

                                                       Old Salt