USS Cooper tech record attempt

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Posted by CDNN on May 23, 2005 at 16:46:10:

Deep wreck tech diving team in Ormoc Bay for world record dive
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ORMOC, Philippines (22 May 2005) -- The deep wreck technical diving team has assembled at the Bay of Ormoc in the Leyte Gulf to deploy equipment and make final preparations for a world record dive attempt that has no margin for error.

Surface support team manager Roscoe Thompson of Action Divers in Puerto Galera, which is sponsoring the dive along with Dive VIP Seaside Resort, told CDNN the primary dive support vessel left Puerto Galera this morning for the site where the USS Cooper sank on December 3, 1944 during the Battle of Ormoc Bay after it was hit by a Japanese torpedo. Of the 359 officers and enlisted personnel aboard the American destroyer, 191 died.

Now some of the world's leading technical divers as well as survivors of the battle have gathered to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the Japanese during World War Two. If successful, on Saturday morning, May 28, the team will place a memorial plaque on the USS Cooper 60 years after the war ended.

"We are now deploying equipment, testing it and acclimating the team to local conditions with warm-up dives down to 150 meters," said Simon Birtles, Director of Technical Diver Education at Action Divers.

"Although no one has ever been this deep in the extremely demanding conditions of Ormoc Bay, we feel very positive and confident about the dive," added Birtles. "We've all put a lot of work into organising the whole dive and going over and over the dive runs, mixed gasses and all of the myriad details required to reach the USS Cooper and get everybody safely back to the dive platform."

The current deep wreck dive record of 177 meters is held by Mark Ellyatt who also made the world's deepest dive on open circuit scuba in December 2003.

Ellyatt told CDNN he and the late John Bennett, who died last year on a commercial wreck diving job in South Korea, had been planning similar extreme dives deeper than 200 meters to other Japanese war wrecks in the same area.

"The water at depth will likely be very cold and visibility severely compromised," Ellyatt said. "When I dived the deepest wreck (SS BADEN) at 177m in the English Channel in 1999 and 2000, the conditions were very poor with strong current also--the Leyte Gulf area (Ormoc Bay) will also likely have unpredictable currents due to streams and eddys at depth."

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