• ronaldtownsen

There Was A Time


In my younger days, I worked at a Navy Lab in San Diego. I ran mini-computers used to collect data and provide processing for scientific research on ocean acoustics. The above is a shot from the bridge of a typical deployment. We used rented 180' "Mud Boats", a flat deck that we loaded with communications, towed acoustic arrays and trailers loaded with computers and electronic systems.

We could go to sea for 4 to 5 weeks at a shot. If longer, we would pull into a port and reload food and fuel.

My travels took me to Hawaii, the Catalina Islands, Bermuda, Florida, Spain, Italy, Mediterranean and a world tour that started in Japan, worked my way through Singapore, Pakistan, Bahrain, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, England and finally back to the U.S.A. (Greece and Europe were a personal vacation for a month+ of traveling).

On one trip, we were headed 400miles North of Hawaii. The effort started with a day's effort for the ship to calibrate its radars. At the time, I was into scuba and decided to dive off Catalina while the ship was busy with its calibration efforts. I talked two others to come with me (one to be my diving buddy).

We took a zodiac from the boat and headed over to a spot to dive for Abalone and Fish. After taking our limit, we were back in the zodiac and thought we saw the boat off in the distance (we all had our glasses off). After heading towards what we thought was our boat, we soon realized it was just a derelict and looked to around for our boat. It was at the island's dock and so we turned and head back towards the island. A few minutes later, while we were talking, we passed a large buoy and missed it by just a foot or two. We never saw it because we were busy in conversation and not paying attention.

Arriving back to the boat, the first question we heard was "Did you see that buoy?"...we we stated no, I saw one of deck hands handing money to a few others.

The cook had a large freezer for food. He wouldn't allow us to place our catch in the freezer, but there happened to be a freezer in one of the trailers. So we cleaned the fish and abalone and the cook agreed to cook it up on the way back to port after our work was done.

In this experiment, we had a turbine on board to try and remove low frequency sound from being injected into the water. About 2 weeks out, the turbine failed and we lost power to electronic vans. Approximately 2 weeks later, someone complained that every time they opened the Fridge, there was a bad smell...I then remembered the fish. The freezer had never recovered after the turbine failed and the catch had gone bad. Everyone evacuated the vans while I had to go in and clean the freezer and let the air circulate to get rid of the smell in the vans.

That was the last time I attempted to dive while on a trip.


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© 2013 by Ronald Townsen