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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Happy 30th Anniversary, Nauticos!

untitled-001On September 30, 1986, thirty years ago today, Meridian Sciences, Inc. was founded by Joe Crabtree, Dan Schoenberger, and Dave Jourdan. The company was formed to provide technical analysis and special software in support of Navy underwater programs. In 1995, Meridian received international recognition for its leadership in the discovery of I-52, a historic World War II deep-water shipwreck of a Japanese submarine found at a depth of 17,000 feet. In 1998, the company was rebranded Nauticos as part of an initiative to expand our ocean technology services to government, science and industry.

In 1998, Nauticos managed the operations for Titanic Live, a live broadcast from the bottom of the ocean, for the Discovery Channel and NBC’s Dateline. The following year the company again gained worldwide recognition for the discovery of Dakar, an Israeli submarine lost in the Mediterranean Sea in 1968, and for locating wreckage from the Japanese aircraft carriers sunk at the World War II Battle of Midway in 1942. The company has found deep sea ancient wrecks over 2,000 years old, has recovered artifacts for memorials of lost sailors, has built sonar and video systems to operate to depths of 20,000 feet, has appeared on National Geographic, and has led expeditions in the deep sea quest to find Amelia Earhart’s lost Electra. Nauticos also supports educational and scientific initiatives though the non-profit SeaWord Foundation, formed in 1999. Dave Jourdan continues to lead Nauticos in a diverse program that has included the use of deep-ocean water, historical shipwreck searches, and stratospheric exploration.


Under the Ice Cap

Nautilus in Bergen, Norway
Nautilus in Bergen, Norway

Trivia Question: Which was the first submarine to travel under the arctic ice cap? Answer: USS Nautilus … WRONG! “Nautilus” is correct, but it was NOT the nuclear powered USS Nautilus (SSN-571) of fame. Yes, USS Nautilus was the first submarine to transit the ice cap and visit the North Pole. But an earlier submarine, USS O-12 (SS-73) has the distinction of being the first to dive under the ice cap. This vessel, launched in 1917, was a post World War I vintage O-Class submarine, displacing 500 tons and able to dive to 200 feet. It was decommissioned in 1924, then leased for $1 per year to Hubert Wilkins’s and Lincoln Ellsworth’s Arctic Expedition. The vessel was re-christened “Nautilus” (sans the military moniker “USS”) and baptized with a bucket of ice cubes (champagne forbidden under Prohibition laws at the time). With funding promised by William Randolph Hearst, the boat got underway for Arctic waters in June, 1931 with a plan to rendezvous at the North Pole with the German airship Graf Zeppelin. A series of mishaps, storms, and equipment failures thwarted all attempts until August, when under pressure from Hearst the damaged submarine managed to submerge under the ice. Unable to travel far, and with malfunctioning radios, the ship was presumed lost. However, she had managed to surface through a polynya (area of open water within an ice pack) and was able to return safely. The crew carried out investigations and published scientific papers; however, Hearst considered the venture a failure and refused to pay for the expedition. I learned this bit of history through a re-reading of Rachel Carson’s 1950 book The Sea Around Us.