1999 SS America Documentation & Preservation Projects
High winds and strong current challenged the twelve men and three boats that made up this year's SS America construction team. From September 9-12, divers worked in 38-degree water to hang pipes and stabilize walls in the galley and salon areas. They also reassembled the chief engineer's bed and cleaned silt out of the galley and stewards quarters.
According to Ken Merryman, "the work was slow, but we made progress even though the weather didn't cooperate." Divers used both service-supplied air and conventional scuba. The construction team consisted of Ken Merryman, Bob Olson, Steve Daniel, Tom Brueshaber, Dave Schmidt, Ken Knutson, Stan Braun, Paul Cording, Ron Johnson, Bob Nelson, Al Brown, and Brian Nylander.
This year, they decided to try a new system where divers divided up into two-person work teams and were assigned a specific project. Each team worked on the same project until it was completed. This allowed for improved work efficiency and reduced miscommunication caused by too many divers working on the same task. This arrangement also improved diver safety, as each person was working with same buddy for the entire time.
Some of the artifacts that were discovered included a gold men's ring with green stone, an aftershave bottle, and a metal cigar box with the brand name Between Acts: The Little Cigar. These artifacts will be preserved by the park service and put in the new America display case at the Windigo Visitor Center.
Most of the work during this year's trip was concentrated in the galley and boiler room. Measurements and sketches were produced for documentation of the current condition, so that future stabilization projects can be planned. These measurements and sketches will be transferred to a line drawing later in the year.
The trip was from 12-15 August. GLSPS team members included Ken Merryman, Tim Tamlyn, Malinda Tamlyn, Steve Daniel, Stan Braun, and Frank Cantelas from East Carolina University
. Frank is a professional underwater archeologist with the school and will help draw the layout of the galley.
Due to the depth, darkness, and chance of silting out the galley extra safety precautions were taken. For example, an egress rope was hung along the galley ceiling and an extra tank with regulator was placed near the stairs. The team also used fluorescent lights on extension cords with good success (even though one started to leak). This allowed them to see their work without having to rely just on dive lights.