SHIPS TO REEFS
The Sustainable Solution
for a Healthier Ecology and Economy
SHIPS AS REEFS: THE MAGIC AND THE SCIENCE
Whether it’s the little tug boat reefed in 25 feet of water in Curacao or a newly discovered German U-Boat being explored by a tech team, the allure of sunken ships is irresistible.
On a shallow wreck frequented by cruise ship scuba divers in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, I once found a full set of dentures. No doubt some rapturous geezer ran out of hose trying to get as close as possible.
Earlier that day and just a few miles away I penetrated the Greek freighter Stavronokita forward of the propeller. I then had my own “religious experience” working my way up, deck by deck, videoing the amazing interplay of light, life and forms, eventually to deco on the mast-- a psychedelic forest of invertebrates and fish.
Let me ask you a couple of questions.
If you’ve been diving for decades, what do you notice about the changing conditions under that choppy surface? Depleted fish and invertebrate resources, damaged and bleached coral, invasive species and pollution are a few of the “crimes” to which we as divers are eye witnesses.
On the other hand, if you’ve been diving any of the growing number of ships intentionally sunk as man-made reefs—from the Spiegel Grove in Florida, or the Yukon in California, or the McKenzie in British Columbia, what have you witnessed? Over a period of ten years or less, these ships begin resembling parade floats through an incredible explosion of life. Here on the left coast, and to the North, white plumose anemones, sea fans, and even kelp become home for all sorts of critters. On the east coast and to the south, sponges of all varieties spring up along with fans and invertebrate life. The reef becomes home to a density of critters that can, literally, make your head spin.
Leave a ship open to the elements on the surface and it just rusts and becomes a toxic mess. Have you ever wondered how it is that the living ocean transforms ships with the enthusiasm of a child creating a “castle” from a large cardboard box?
The simple “science” of reefing is really nature’s way of recycling. Put a ship (or any object with a positive electrical charge) in the ocean (seawater has a negative charge) and the magic happens. That smidgen of current instantly begins encapsulating the ship with calcium carbonate and creating a fertile field for those trillions of little critters like plankton that float eternally in the abyss looking for a place to call home. What was once a home for sailors now becomes a home for marine life.
I refer to such intentional sinkings and the reefs that result as either cultured reefs or man-made reefs rather than “artificial.” There is nothing artificial about them.
The attraction of these sunken treasures is not only to our marine brethren of course. Divers flock to these ships, spending money and stimulating enormous economic benefits.
THE ECONOMICS OF REEFING
There are really only four ways to recycle the many hundreds of ocean-going vessels that are retired annually on Earth.
First, you can scrap them for razor blades or rebar, here in the US or overseas. Until recently, steel prices have been so low as to make this a losing proposition for scrappers. There aren’t any scrappers on the West Coast, for instance. Rising steel prices have made this more attractive, but the economic benefits are short lived and not as sustainable as ships to reefs.
That’s the case with domestic recycling. Ship breaking overseas such as that in Alang, India is such a human and ecological disaster that Greenpeace set off an international firestorm a few years back, and rightly so. In the US, this alternative for scrapping Navy ships is banned, though some ships with home ports in Caribbean countries and elsewhere still participate.
Secondly, you can clean the ships and use them for sink exercises in the deep ocean, which has zero economic upside other than disposing of the problem quickly and giving sailors target practice. The downside is that the ships still have to be cleaned, though not to the standards they are for reefing and thus there are possible toxins and spread of invasive species.
The third alternative, and what the government has done which has resulted in a PR and legal nightmare for them in Suisun Bay, is to warehouse the ships for decades. Uncleaned, exposed to the elements, the deteriorating ships become a toxic time bomb. Economically, the cost for mere storage has risen to billions over the years. This is not a solution at all. It is the avoidance of a solution and it’s come back to bite them in the butt with a lawsuit from Arc Ecology this past year.
The fourth and only truly sustainable alternative, with benefits for both the ecology and the economy, is to clean the ships of all toxic substances and to strategically sink them as man-made reefs. Many sinkings are within recreational diving depths, though some (like aircraft carriers) can be sunk in deep waters.
Pioneering provinces like British Columbia and countries like New Zealand attract millions annually and states like Florida with just under 300 artificial reefs realize billions of dollars in underwater tourism. This is all to the benefit not only of the dive community, but to economic interests like transportation, tourism, hotels and restaurants.
The government, sitting atop this economic chain, benefits through increased tax revenues. Tax consumers become tax payers.
All good, eh? You may well ask, as many of us have, what’s the “down side” to reefing ships? Why is it that this process isn’t embraced by everyone? Why do some even oppose it?
THE POLITICS OF REEFING
My daughter was watching an episode of The Simpson’s recently when I passed through the living room. Homer, asked to participate in a community project, paused to worry over the proposition, then asked, “Do I have to do anything?”
We’re going to discuss the current impasse with getting retired naval ships under reasonable terms from the Federal government, but before we shift blame to the Feds, let’s not be Homer Simpson.
The downside is that somebody, driven by purpose and willing to put their butt on the line, has to do it. “Doh!”
It seems for every one person willing to actually do something, there are at lest 283 bureaucrats and nay-sayers determined that you’re not going to do something, and about 2,830,000 among even those who stand to benefit from reefing, that are caught in the “Homer effect.”
However, as a result of the sweat and determination of a few good men and women, over the last decade, ships have gone down. For every one that turns out to be an economic success, the momentum grows to the point where even governments start jumping on board as they are in British Columbia and Florida.
Each successful sinking has a common denominator—some one who put on the boots and started leading the cause, supported by a tenacious team determined to plow through wall after wall, permit after permit, ego meltdown after ego meltdown, financial crisis after financial crisis.
All that sweat, blood and money leading to that one day--weightless and accompanied only by the sounds of our own breathing--we behold our ship on the bottom on the first day of its evolution as a flourishing reef.
What fuels such individuals? Purpose first, and then tenacity.
Dick Long, founder of Diving Unlimited International, was prime mover behind the sinking of the Canadian destroyer escort Yukon in San Diego. He is chief advisor to California Ships to Reefs, and is now one of two founding members, with Jay Straith of British Columbia, of Ships to Reefs International.
The interview that follows is a study in such purpose and tenacity. Anyone crazed enough to put the boots on to begin the journey to reefing and those who hope to benefit from this movement will do well to listen to his words.
I first met Dick, like many divers do, through his products. My CLX 450 dry suit became a constant companion, followed by a CF 200 model. You build a certain affinity for the man through the quality of his products and the many adventures they make possible, even without meeting him.
But, one day four years ago, I saw an announcement for a Ships to Reefs meeting in San Diego and made my way down from LA to a meeting which had attracted about 50 others.
Frankly, there was a lot of enthusiasm and noise in that room, desire and confusion, opinions and disagreements—a lot more heat than light.
And then Dick took the floor.
When Dick speaks people listen and things can settle down. Not because he’s such a “calming influence”; he is very direct and expects the best from those who work with him. I personally appreciate it and am likeminded. The reason people listen is because it becomes apparent that the man has forgotten more about ships to reefs than the rest of us—collectively—will probably ever know.
Ships to Reefs are the future of diving.
Whether you embrace the movement for its ecological benefits and to take pressure off of natural reefs, or for the enormous economic benefits it holds, do something.
Whether you want to put the boots on and lead or take the journey as crew, jump on board.
Whether you are in the dive industry and stand to make a more prosperous future for the profession, or you are a diver who simply wants to explore the sunken treasures when the job’s done, work with us.
No matter your motivation, we can all learn from what Dick has to say in the following interview.
For more information on Ships to Reefs: www.cs2r.org
INTERVIEW WITH DICK LONG
Harvey Schmiedeke: You’ve devoted a very large part of your “retirement” and your fortune to the ships to reefs effort. What got you started and what keeps you going?
Purpose: It’s not about us. It’s about the ocean.
I joined the San Diego Oceans Foundation because they had a line that said no matter what you do, military and industrial or recreational, we must assume stewardship of the ocean—for what happens and what doesn’t happen. That means taking personal responsibility. Far more important than trying to “preserve” our oceans is stewardship. We can not sit by and watch the ocean deteriorate. We must become activists.
I suspect all these guys who “don’t want us to put stuff in the ocean” go home and flush their toilets.
Not long after I joined SDOF a retired admiral approached me saying we had concrete in San Diego to make artificial reefs. The concrete was left over from experiments being done by University of California to determine how to make freeways more earthquake proof.
I researched all over the nation including into Canada about AR’s and got back all kinds of info including stuff from British Columbia about ships being used as reefs.
At first I said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m into concrete, not ships.”
Then I got call form Canada and they said, “We have an extra destroyer, would you want one? It’s called the Yukon.” I asked my buddy, who was Senior Program Manager for Raytheon, and he said “hell yes.”
It was one of those things that you decide to do, not having a clue what you’re getting into, and if you did know, you might not even get started. But, we started.
What got me going, and everyone who persisted to sink the Yukon going is a powerful purpose to do something for the ocean, and then pure tenacity. We are divers believing in the ocean, not just “caring about it,” and taking responsibility for it, not just “protecting” it.
Harvey Schmiedeke: So, you held your nose and jumped into the deep end. What support did you get, and what opposition?
Support for the idea came in two phases:
- During the “honeymoon” phase, people thought it was a “great idea,” bought T-shirts, we raised a bit of money, and SDOF thought it was a great idea.
- After that, when the hard work started, support slowed down. It became clear to me that until people SAW the Yukon, right here in our own back yard, they wouldn’t get on board.
We had to bring it down.
I had one guy give me $50,000 on promise of anonymity. If his name came out, I had to give the money back. He’s the guy who made it happen because I was committed but didn’t feel I had enough money and it was like an invisible wall in front of me.
Later, I started off to donate $10,000 and loan of $10,000. I ended up just under half a million dollars, about a quarter of my personal net worth at a time when I was “retiring” and this was to be my future.
Honestly, it was a horrible time for me. But I decided that little people like me can rarely have an opportunity like this, to do something really, really valuable for the ocean. I had it within my power and ability if I were willing to spend personal fortune on it.
I made the decision and went to sleep and never turned over since then. I’ve never looked back; quite the opposite. I don’t get why others don’t get it. One thing is, they never dove on the Yukon.
Other people picked up the ball and got the import documents to bring it down. It was simpler than we’d thought. The guns couldn’t be operational, but other than that it was simple. I honestly think that was because either people really didn’t know what the hell this was or what we were doing or—if they did suspect—they were dead certain we’d never pull it off. So, they didn’t object. Their ignorance, in this case, was bliss for our cause.
Two other people came on who were indispensable.
Bob Watts was my right arm and handled permitting and other legal issues. He had dealt with the California Coastal Commission before and so had some valuable experience we would benefit from.
Doug Geopfert was a retired Naval officer and engineering officer on a steam powered destroyer. He agreed to be our “consultant” but then spent better part of two years, almost every waking hour on the Yukon as the chief person in charge. He ran all crews, did all the planning and was magnificent. This was done over the top of some real challenges in his personal life and it is ironic that the project provided a focus and channel for him to move forward with his life. Also ironic, Doug met his new wife Ellen on the project.
Several other people spent a lot of time and effort on it.
Once the ship was here and people could see, touch, feel it—it wasn’t “mine” anymore. They took “ownership” and responsibility for it. It was “their” ship.
People were coming out of the woodwork and all kinds of help and support poured out. We got loaned a forklift “for a few days” and gave it back a year later. Trash services provided big roll-offs. The guy who supplied cutting gases like many others were not in the diving business at all.
No question, having the ship here made every difference.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) is noted for its opposition to everything. It’s justly deserved—they’re all political appointees.
Senator Dee Dee Alpert knew the head of CCC and helped us by putting out the word not to just say “no” out of hand to our proposal. They sent down their top permitting and marine biology people. They said we must do a full Environmental Impact Report.
It took a year and a half to do the EIR. We had a firm here in town volunteer $180,000 of work for free. Without this magnificent help, we couldn’t have done it.
We did not play games with the CCC.
Their staff people would call us up and ask reasonable questions and we didn’t try to do anything other than deal with them in the most straightforward way possible. They have a legislative mandate to protect the environment and WE want the same thing—we addressed all of their issues directly and dealt with them honestly. They’d call us back and we would do the same with them on every issue raised. Their reputation depended on doing the right thing.
When the time came to recommend “for” our proposal, “neutral” or “against,” they said as long as we concentrated on being an economic development and stayed away from ecological development they were in favor.
This blew away the liberal-leaning commissioners who hadn’t even read the reports but were “opposed” anyway. Give the CCC credit. They had to step out in traffic and they did.
There’s a big point here to understand for any of us who want to get ships down: Always talk ECONOMIC benefit, not ecological. We may all know and can see with our own eyes and through studies like the Scripps Institute has done on the Yukon that the ocean benefits. But the folks we’re trying to “sell” this idea to, for the most part, will understand the economic up-side.
Harvey Schmiedeke: Recently there have been some real “ups and downs” for the Ships to Reefs effort, most recently the Arc Ecology suit on the West Cost and the Vandenberg problem in the East. Why is this and what can we do to move things forward to make ships to reefs the preferred solution for ship recycling?
Especially on the West Coast, people are aware that there is a major problem sitting in Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. Until the San Francisco Water Quality Control Board did what they did in exposing the aging fleet as a toxic time bomb, people could ignore it. Now they can’t.
There’s also a fair amount of unfounded bias from environmental groups many of whom have never been under the water and are clueless, but “opposed” nevertheless. There’s the false concept that when a ship goes down that it’s dirty and loaded with toxins. That might be the case if the ship sank as an act of war or natural disaster, as is the case with the tens of thousands of shipwrecks around the world. (You’ll notice the ocean has even successfully “recycled” these disasters, but that’s not the point.) In any case, because of that myth, the attitude is, “not in my back yard.”
They don’t understand that when we put a ship down, it’s been cleaned to very strict standards and opened up, and there’s absolutely no comparison to an accidental sinking. There is so much misinformation out there that people have made up their minds before they hear anything.
But while those saying "NO” to ships to reefs are controlling the situation in Suisun Bay, the Board’s report and subsequent lawsuit by Arc Ecology has forced the recognition that something must be done to get these ships out of warehousing and properly recycled. So, the stalemate a short-term problem, but this gives us the opportunity to propose a real, lasting, sustainable solution for the government.
Until the situation is resolved, we might still be able to acquire ships in another country, import it and sink it easier than getting it from the Navy. The Navy is headed by individuals with bias and as long as they can make decisions in vacuum they can get away with it.
If we bring this situation into the light, they’re in trouble. They can not intellectually defend their position. The legislation that is in place now as a result of the Yukon and Rand report clearly states that reefing is a viable alternative. The Department of Navy and Congress accepted the Rand Report and passed legislation stating that ship reefing is to be supported at the same level and manner as Sink Exercises (using ships for target practice) and scrapping. (To access the Rand Report, Scripps Institute study, etc. go to www.cs2r.org.)
Yet, the Navy won’t even talk about getting ships for reefing under reasonable terms at that this point. They won’t speak to you. MARAD, which owns the ships after the guns come off, is likewise in a freeze because of huge deficits and the cost of the war. Our boys need armor, but this is still a problem.
Harvey Schmiedeke: So, what’s the solution to the impasse at a Federal level?
We may be able to convince people through education and that has to be part of the strategy. We do have a lot of allies who can help carry the message as to what’s going on with the ocean, with these ships, and that reefing is the most sustainable and economically beneficial solution.
In addition, with the Arc Ecology lawsuit now moving forward and other possible legal pressure in the future, even from the Federal government itself, there is likely to be growing pressure to properly clean and recycle these ships. We need to be there, ready with a proven process and resources to do the job.
We can only learn by “trial and error” for so long without losing credibility. By consolidating our efforts and best practices, we actually know a lot more about how to do this right than we give ourselves credit for.
Especially after some of the errors in the management of 3 recent projects—the Vandenberg, Oriskany and Texas Clipper--we need take our experience and move to the next level.
Harvey Schmiedeke: You can always tell the pioneers in any field—they’re the ones with arrows in their back. It’s inevitable we will make mistakes, but we have to own up to them, learn from them, and move on. What are the most important lessons in your view?
My experience with the Yukon, which was done by a very small and dedicated group largely on private money can’t be repeated today for major destroyers or larger ships. We’ve learned now not to think we could do this as a small group focused on only one ship at a time.
We were able to do the Yukon—you might say the stars aligned. There was incredible dedication, the City of San Diego owned the spot where the ship was sunk, this was a new and little understood venture, and had a chemistry which we simply can not replicate.
The Vandenberg is an example of what happens when you try to follow that model of a small, even if very dedicated volunteer group, trying to do a project of this magnitude. The people who were doing the project wanted it so badly that they allowed their judgment to be clouded by people giving false information.
Only 25% of removal costs were predicted. Major overruns came as a result. They were told there were only so much PCB’s and the check the government gave for that only covered a fraction. Due to inexperience, there were a lot of things they didn’t do. The PCB’s were the biggest. Multiple permitting problems delayed the process. Government agencies were hoping they’d go away and were not expeditious in helping them to make it happen. Due to liabilities like that demonstrated in the accidents on the Spiegel Grove, the bank required them to carry so much insurance that what should have cost $40,000 cost $1.5 million on the Vandenberg. Now, if they want to move the ship, they require all new insurance.
Of course the people in Florida are very dedicated and they want to finish out the project and are doing their best. It’s in court and we have to convince the court to allow these people to finish the job.
We are making progress, but due to a failure to share and learn from each other’s experience, goofs persist. The Texas Clipper landed on its side because people didn’t want to listen to the experience of others—including ours on the Yukon.
The Oriskany never should have been put in water as shallow as it was, and we could have done a more thorough job with the wire removal. The Rand Corporation report stressed that aircraft carriers should be placed at 450 feet for very good reason.
We need to not only learn from our errors, but to codify the right way to do things and put our best PR and legislative people on the job to communicate at the federal level and abroad.
Harvey Schmiedeke: How do you see the new Ships to Reefs International (S2RI) organization helping with that effort?
S2RI’s purpose is to bring all of the knowledge , expertise and best practices that exist in the world to a convenient, available site so that anyone who’s got a ship they want to get rid of has a central resource. We will be able to show governments that reefing makes more sense than any of the other more toxic, less sustainable, and less economically beneficial alternatives. And, once approved, we’ll be able to show people how to do it properly.
The momentum for this is already happening in other countries where retired ships are instantly reefed because they are money making propositions for the government that owns them. New Zealand and Australia do that now, and momentarily two others will do it as new national policy. NATO countries are about to commit to this in next few months.
The numbers are just undeniable: The City of SD gave a one-shot $50,000 investment for the Yukon and they get back $450,000 each and every year in tax income! That’s in addition to the $4.5 million annually that comes into the city from the underwater tourism generated, as documented in the Rand Report.
On a global scale, the UN now has guidelines on how to reef ships and will be voting on it in the next session. If you want to make yourself ill, read the Atlantic Monthly article on Ship Breaking at Alang in India. (http://www.uss-bennington.org/shipbreakers/shipbreakers-1.html) You’ll see the horror of how the majority of ocean going vessels are disposed of on this planet—the devastation for the people that work on them for slave wages and for the environment.
There is a proposition to set up a ship recycling industry within the UN, to do it in a responsible and intelligent manner, bring management and workers to this country, give them the training and tools so they can recycle the ships they get but in a way that doesn’t kill and maim the workers or destroy the environment.
We need to start that here in the US to create the process.
S2RI’S immediate goal is to get this ball rolling by communicating with US government and elected representatives to educate them and their staff on the wisdom of the ships to reefs process; and how it makes them and American taxpayer money. That is our prime focus in the coming year.
Harvey Schmiedeke: How do we get the dive community itself and the public at large to see that Ships to Reefs is not just in their financial interests, but a win/win for the future of this planet? And then to get them to do something about it?
Society at large and even some of our friends in the dive community will see the dollars and sense of it and it will support it for that reason. But that is short-lived and it can cloud their judgment.
To me the most important thing is the ocean. It controls everything. It has been our cornucopia since the beginning of time on this planet. We can’t abuse it. The only chance we have is to do something positive for it for the success of the planet.
Diving is an art form in which mankind interacts with the ocean. We descend into it and become part of it. When people go diving, they fall in love with the ocean. How do you explain to someone who doesn’t’ dive why we spend our money and even risk our lives as divers? They don’t think it’s “fun”. They think it’s illogical and reckless.
The dive industry is at the bottom of this chain, and thus must support this effort if they want to see more income. But if you’re in the dive industry, there’s a whole other dimension and purpose needed if you want to see the project through and have peace of mind.
I woke up one day and said, “In theory in this world I’m the best at what we do (at DUI). So how come I’m not filthy rich?” It was a very demoralizing thought. I had to ask myself if I could leave this game and do something else and still live with myself. No—I’m a lifer.
The truth is if you’re smart and resourceful enough to make money in this industry, you can probably make twice as much somewhere else. You’re doing it because you’re crazy and love your children and love the ocean. For those of us who do it, we make enough money to take care of our children.
But, when I’m long, long, long gone my great grandkids will go diving on the Yukon and see their family name and perhaps tell their friends, “My grandfather did this. He cared about me and you and the ocean and what we’ve inherited. “
The ocean may or may not be fixed by then, but they’ll know that I bloody well tried.
Founder, Sunken Treasures Society of Los Angeles
VP for PR, California Ships to Reefs
335 North 3rd Street
Burbank, CA 91502
About the Author
Harvey Schmiedeke is the Vice President for Public Relations of California Ships to Reefs and founded the Sunken Treasures Society of Los Angeles sink group in 2005. By profession, he is the owner of a consulting company, Survival Strategies, Inc. located in Burbank, CA. But he is equally passionate recreational and technical diving, underwater photography and video, which he does around the world. He co-owns and operates a 32 foot Aluminum Chambered Boat, The Machine from LA Harbor. He is a public speaker and the author of books and many magazine articles on a wide variety of subjects. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or called at 1-800-834-0357.
(SIDE BAR #1)
CALIFORNIA SHIPS TO REEFS
Goals and Structure at a Glance
In California the long term intention is to create a “sink fleet” of ships as man-made reefs up and down the coast. Over the next ten to twenty years, the plan is to use the best practices learned world-wide for the cleaning and reefing of ships, placing them strategically in regions that can most support and benefit from underwater tourism.
To accomplish that goal, in California there is a three tier structure of affiliate organizations:
1. REGIONAL SINK GROUPS:
The local sink groups are charged with the responsibility of building support and funding in their local community, doing site investigations and preparations, environmental impact studies, and eventually receiving and “diverising” ships to sink. They then maintain the buoys and conduct on-going studies.
There are several sink groups currently: Sunken Treasures Society of Los Angeles and the Northern California Oceans Foundation are established. The CS2R Orange County, Central Coast Ships to Reefs (in Sal Luis Obispo) and a San Diego group are also making headway in obtaining support from the local community.
Currently, because of the problems with getting major ships through the Navy, the groups in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego are all working on Underwater Parks. The intention is to create both shore and boat diving opportunities from the sinking of smaller ships, tanks, pilings and underwater art, while also leveraging off of placing buoys on existing sunken ships in the vicinity of the park.
2. CALIFORNIA SHIPS TO REEFS:
Originally established as a part of the San Diego Oceans Foundation, CS2R became a separate corporation and 501(c)(3) three years ago. The Executive Director is Eleanore Rewerts and chief advisor is Dick Long. A team including a marine biologist, former law officer with extensive legislative and union experience, project manager, PR expert and representatives of all recognized sink groups make up the board.
CS2R works with both the state and federal government to assist sink groups. Because ships are released only to a designated state body—in California’s case, the Department of Fish and Game—they coordinate with the DFG as well on behalf of the sink group.
CS2R’s primary focus in the coming year, after the federal elections, will be cooperating with the 3rd group in the process—S2RI—to walk the halls in Washington, educating, building support for ships to reefs as the only really viable, sustainable alternative, and obtaining ships for the sink groups.
3. SHIPS TO REEFS INTERNATIONAL
The prime movers on the formation of S2RI are Jay Straith of the Artificial Reefs Society of British Columbia and Dick Long.
The purpose and goals of S2RI are covered in the adjacent article. In a nutshell, it will be codifying the best practices for ships to reefs learned world-wide, as well assisting in removing barriers to making the vision a reality.
You can access information on all these groups, and get or give help to this effort by logging onto www.cs2r.org
(SIDE BAR #2)
I could (and some day may) fill a book with the story and accomplishments of Dick Long who founded, owns and chairs Diving Unlimited International, Inc., San Diego, California.
He began diving in 1958 and holds NAUI instructor number 49.
Beginning as a contract diver with the US Navy in the Arctic in 1965, his commercial diving experience included working with Underwater Demolition Teams and swimmer delivery vehicles doing lockouts from submarines in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
As an equipment designer for Seal Lab II, he worked on early saturation dives. He also participated in the first dives to over 1000 feet and eventually open sea, working dives to 1400 feet.
In addition to being the prime mover behind the creation of the Yukon man made reef in San Diego, he lectures and writes extensively for publications and retail shows on the subject of ships to reefs.
He invented and holds many patents for diving equipment and suits such as his 1965 invention of the hot water suit which is still in use today.
His many awards include being in both the NAUI and ACDI Commercial Diving Hall of Fame, and he has been Chairman of numerous organizations including CS2R, DEMA and DAN to name a few.