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Archive for the ‘Maritime’ Category

SCUBAPRO SUNDAY – Diving with a Helmet

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

Over the past ten years or so, more and more divers have started wearing helmets when they dive. It is done for a lot of different reasons. For example, when using a Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) to help protect your head if you run into something; wearing your Night Optical Devices (NOD) so when you get out of the water, you can take your mask off and pull your NODs down; for protecting your head when working around piers or doing a ship attack. You want to be ready to fight when you get out of the water, so you have your helmet on and, for some reason, people like to wear GoPros for everything they do now. But the main reason is protection for your head.

There are some things you should take into consideration before you jump into the water with your helmet on. How much protection do you need? Is it just for bump protection? If so, can you just use a thicker dive hood or do you really need something more? Let’s say you and your dive buddy are swimming along, he has his head down looking at the attack board and you are along for the ride, thinking about what you need to buy at home depot to add to your new deck you want to finish up this weekend, and then BAM!! KaPOW!! He runs into the pier cutting his head open. Now you have to buy him a steak dinner and/or lots of beer to make up for him hitting his head.

Any time you will be around piers, rocks or ships, you should have something covering your head, even if it’s just a thin dive hood. If you choose to wear a helmet, you have a few choices. Start with its physical components: does it need to be Ballistic, Non-Ballistic (glass-filled nylon or carbon fiber), or can it just be something just used for mounting gear, like the Ops Core Skull Crusher/ Head-mounted system.

Almost all helmets can be used in the water, but like everything you bring into the water, it needs to be adequately cleaned. Some companies make very cheap knock offs of different helmets. Please don’t be fooled if you pay $100 for something that would normally cost $1000. There is a good chance it won’t last that long and please for the love of god don’t do that with a ballistic helmet and then use it in war. I know looking cool is rule one, but a very close second is” don’t go dying on me” because you wanted to look cool.

All helmets used by U.S. SOCOM (sorry, bought by U.S. SOCOM) can be used in the water. If you are planning on getting out of the water and you might get in a gunfight, you might want to wear your ballistic helmet. If you are using a DPV or just need bump and scratch protection, then a non-ballistic helmet should work. If you just want to look around with your NODs when you get out of the water, a Skull Crusher works excellent. If you’re going to add lights or again you want/need to record something, then any of the above will work.

One of the issues you can have when diving a helmet is getting your mask to fit under or over. Once you have it where you want it, you can’t take it off and put it back on quickly. However, with the SCUBAPRO Odin helmet mask strap, you can attach your mask to your helmet for quick donning and doffing, when done with your dive or working around saltwater.

If you need to use a Full-Face Mask like the OTS guardian or even have a thin dive hood on, sometimes this makes buckling the chin strap a little hard. You should consider adding a chin strap extension. The extension will truly make it easier to dive your helmet; it will also help you adjust and remove it, if needed, above and below the water. Most companies make chin strap extensions for use with gas masks or other reasons.

I have had numerous inquiries about the nuts and bolts used on Ops-Core helmets and “why don’t they use stainless steel bolts so that they won’t rust?” Stainless steel does rust; it is just more rust resistant than most metals. The nuts and bolts on your ballistic helmet are ballistic bolts; they are designed not to break apart as easily if shot or blown up. So proper maintenance is required for anything you bring into the water. If you bring it into saltwater, it needs to be soaked, not just rinsed, in freshwater to get the salt crystals out. If the salt crystals are not rinsed out, they will slowly start to cut through the nylon fabric and cut it apart. This is also true for climbing ropes, harnesses, and armor carriers used in the water — make sure to clean them well. Also, always take the pads out of the helmet and make sure they are soaked in freshwater then dried.

You don’t have to take the chin strap off. Just make sure it’s dry, as well, before you store your helmet. Do not leave your helmet in the sun to dry; the sun is not suitable for anything. It is the one thing that is bad for nylon and other material like that.  Leave it in a cool, dry place with air moving around and, if you can, with a dehumidifier or Damp-Rid to help pull the water out of all the webbing. Once it is dry, you can wipe the bolts with a little (a little, not a lot) of WD-40 or another type of water displacement film. Once all of this is done, you can put your helmet away or hang it in your locker. Make sure if you do put it in a helmet bag or your locker, try and have some Damp-Rid or Desiccant packs in there to help pull the moister out of your gear, as it is tough to get all the moisture out completely.

SCUBAPRO has also just launched their Professional Services webpage. It’s just a start but we hope this well show our commitment to Working divers, the Military and Public Safety Divers.

SCUBAPRO Professional Services

Schiebel Camcopter S-100 Performs Maritime Surveillance for Romanian Border Police

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

Vienna, 8 April 2021 – The Romanian Border Police operates the CAMCOPTER® S-100 for maritime surveillance purposes. The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is delivered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and is also extended to Bulgaria.

Stationed in Mangalia, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 supports the Romanian authorities in carrying out general Coast Guard functions, conducting day-to-day monitoring and surveillance of all shipping including port security, as well as responding to any search and rescue, accident and disaster needs. The S-100 executes these various tasks equipped with an L3 Wescam Electro-Optical / Infra-Red (EO/IR) camera gimbal, an Overwatch Imaging PT-8 Oceanwatch, a Becker Avionics BD406 Emergency Beacon Locator and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver.

Operations in Romania and Bulgaria are part of the EMSA awarded multi-year maritime surveillance contract for a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) RPAS, awarded to Schiebel in November 2018. In the execution of this contract, Schiebel provides simultaneous maritime surveillance services to several EU member states and EU bodies. Most recently, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 was operational in France, Denmark, Finland and Croatia.

Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said: “Once more, we are supporting local authorities with our ‘eye in the sky’. The CAMCOPTER® S-100 has proven its outstanding capabilities numerous times and we are proud to be working with EMSA on supporting EU member states with these vital tasks.”

Team Wendy Makes Waves With New Maritime Helmet Liner

Monday, March 29th, 2021

New EXFIL® Maritime Liner System Offers Water-Resistant Protection for Coastal Operators

CLEVELAND, OH (March 29, 2021) – Cleveland-based Team Wendy®, a leading global provider of exceptional head protection systems, announced today the launch of its EXFIL® Maritime Liner System. The liner features sealed pads made from Team Wendy’s patented Zorbium® foam optimized to dry quickly after routine exposure to water.

The EXFIL Maritime Liner System is a drop-in system offered in two configurations: one for the Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic and EXFIL Ballistic SL, and one for the EXFIL Carbon and EXFIL LTP bump helmets. Designed specifically for Team Wendy’s EXFIL shell geometry, the liner is available as an aftermarket retrofit system for these four Team Wendy helmets. Each system contains front, crown and rear impact pads, as well as a fit adjustment pack with four (4) shim pads.

“Wet helmet pads negatively impact comfort and add weight, and every minute they take to dry makes a difference for coastal and underseas operators,” said Mike Romanchek, director of sales and business development for Team Wendy. “The EXFIL Maritime Liner doesn’t absorb water and dries quickly while still maintaining the protective integrity our Zorbium pads are known for.”

Both configurations of the EXFIL Maritime Liner retail for $99.95 and are available for purchase on and through authorized Team Wendy dealers.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Split Fins vs Paddles Fins

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

When you first went thru dive school, you were giving a set of fins, and that’s what you used. When you got to your command after, you were giving a set of fins, and that’s what you used (most of the time). But as you started to see other guys at the team using different fins and you would ask, “Hey, where did you get those, and do you like them?” You would hear “they use to issue them” or “I bought them at Lynnhaven Dive” (or insect local dive store name). My point is sometimes you never know what else is out there, and I see a lot of people using gear they don’t like, but it is what they were issued.

In the big picture of dive fins, there are two basic blade types paddles and split. Both fins help you move underwater quicker and smoother, although there are distinct advantages and disadvantages of each kind of dive fin. So how do you choose what is the right fin for you? Well, the easiest way is to try different ones out. Remember also that gone are the days that one fin does it all, or I should say one fin needs to do it all. Many people love Jet fins, but there is no point in carrying them with you in the jungle for river and stream crossing or try and put them on over combat boots for an OTB.

In propulsion capacity and air conservation, split and blade fins often vary.

Split fins are based off of a whale’s tail with a slit down the middle, a relatively new choice for divers. When they came out. Instead of only moving them forward, this slit produces a vortex that lets divers get optimum thrusts and pace underwater.

Split fins act much like a propeller: the slit allows water to flow smoothly from both sides of the blade on the upward fin stroke, resulting in a foil shape. By creating the right lift, this shape helps you to step forward through the water. Split fins do not allow you to move fast in the water, and if you are a slow swimmer, there is a good chance you still will be. Their flow-through nature becomes less effective the harder you kick. Their design also provides less movement if you are pushing a lot of weight thru the water.

Paddle fins force the water back to help you move forward through the water, and they are more effective than split fins. Paddle fins often differ in length and stiffness, two factors contributing to speed and the kicking force required. Greater stiffness provides you with more forward momentum. Depending on the stiffness, this will make it harder to kick and lead to leg cramps. On the other hand, split fins do not have the rigidity of blade fins since they are relatively light and flexible.

Split fins channel any surface water in and out of their opening rather than over their arms. A spring-like movement is produced by this method, which provides a more robust and solid kick. Usually, you are using a flutter-type kick. It also decreases drag and effort, resulting in greater performance.

On most paddle fins, you will get spills of water over the sides of their blades. These fins are less powerful than split fins because of this reaction. It also results in more drag, and to go forward; you’ll need to kick more. That being said, many blade fins have ridges and stiffer sides to help fix that problem. The SCUBAPRO SeaWing’s and the Go Sport fins are just a couple of examples of that. I say those two because they are my go-to fins.

Split fins are said to be good for people with ankle or knee issues and divers who easily get cramps. Again, we say the same thing about the SCUBAPRO SeaWing’s  They are good for divers who only go straight without turns or moving in tight spaces. With the proper technique, the split fins can provide less joint pressure and pain because your strokes will feel less effective. I have found that they don’t give as much power for bigger divers, and if you have a lot of gear on, like a Dräger, a limpet, and your swim buddy, you have been pulling for two hours because he is “not a strong swimmer”. But they do have a place and a lot of people like them. The downside is. There are only two types, open or closed heal. There have not been any new break through’s when it comes to them.

Paddle fins are like the swiss army knife of fins. There are so many different ones to choose from that you can almost always find the right one for the job. They are ideal for use in strong currents or swimming against the tide. They allow you to use different kick styles in more technical dives, like the frog, scissor, reverse, or dolphin, to name a few. Those types of kicks are more effective with paddle-type fins. If you have to pull a lot of weight, like going over the beach with a ruck or have to perform a buddy rescue, blade fins are going to be the best for this. Paddles are also suitable for doing a hook and climb; if you are the guy with the pole doing the hook, paddles are the way to go.

To summarize, split fins have more efficient thrusts and oxygen conservation. They, however, have some drawbacks such as decreased speed and kicking ability. Paddle fins excel in both departments because they give you more strength underwater. Paddle fins may be used in a variety of situations, from combat swimmer to over the beach.

Although split fins have some advantages over paddle fins, it’s difficult to say if they’re better. One of the biggest advantages over the split fins is that there are so many types of paddle fins. It comes down to trying both types of fins out and decide for yourself. I like to look at fins like shoes (I was going to say running shoes, but I do not run, everyone knows it breads cowardness). You are not going to wear the same shoes in the jungle that you would in the mountains. So, if you look at fins like that; you might be able to use just one set but having more than one opens up many more options and helps you do the job better and posable easier.

The fins have the Matbock Skins for SCUBAPRO, Jet fins, Seawing and Go Sport fins.

SCUBAPRO SUNDAY – The Battle of Hampton Roads

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

The Battle of Hampton Roads took place in March 1862 in Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle is considered historically significant, although it did not yield a definitive outcome, as it was the first time that ironclad warships met head-to-head. This battle effectively made all wooden naval ships obsolete, especially those of Great Britain and France, and forced them to shift towards an all-ironclad fleet.

President Lincoln ordered a blockade in the spring of 1861, shortly after the war outbreak, of the ports of those states that had declared their secession from the Union. By the end of April, the blockade had been extended to the anchorage near the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads in Virginia. This was of great strategic significance because it marked the Nansemond and Elizabeth Rivers’ confluence with the James River. Due to their base at Norfolk and the Portsmouth navy yard, Confederate forces occupied the south side of the river.

To protect the navy yard, the Confederacy installed two batteries at Craney Island and Sewell’s Point. However, Fort Monroe, and thus the closest part of the Virginia Peninsula, remained in the Union’s hands. The Confederate forces were almost entirely stopped from traveling between Richmond and Norfolk and the ocean until the blockade began to be enforced. The siege was strengthened by the strong ships of the Union, strategically put beyond the range of the Confederate batteries but under the protection of those of the Union. This standstill when on for almost a year

The US was far behind other countries when it came to updating their Navy. Several ironclads were built during the Crimean War, primarily designed to fight forts. In 1859 the French made an “ironclad frigate” called La Gloire. It was 250 feet long, carried 38 cannons, was covered in over 4 inches of iron, and could travel 12 knots. To keep up with France, Britain built the HMS Warrior (picture above) in 1860, the largest Ironclad. By 1862 Britain and France had 16 ironclads completed or under construction, and Austria, Italy, Russia, and Spain were building them. It was generally recognized that ironclad warships would be the future of naval warfare.

While France and Britain already had ironclad warships, the United States Navy was unconvinced of the armored ships’ value. Therefore, the Confederacy was the first to begin construction on their Ironclad (CSS Virginia). It was not designed from scratch, which would have taken almost a year because of the need to operate quickly, but instead made up from the ruined hull of the sunken USS Merrimack. The ship’s bow was mounted with an iron ram, while it was armed with ten guns. Two-inch thick armor plates, an improvement from the initial one-inch specification, were introduced. Called CSS Virginia, in February 1862, the vessel was eventually commissioned.

Meanwhile, the Union command had received news that the Confederacy wanted to build an ironclad ship. This caused serious concern, and the Union’s Ironclad’s construction, the USS Monitor, was approved by Congress. The most noteworthy feature of this vessel was that it had only two large-caliber guns, mounted in a large cylindrical turret that could rotate thanks to a steam engine’s control. This greatly reduced the manpower required for the armaments of the ship.   Eight-inch-thick iron plates coated the entire turret. The USS Monitor was commissioned just a few days after the CSS Virginia. 

The battle of Hampton roads lasted two days, with Virginia commanded by Franklin Buchanan and Monitor captain John L. Worden, although neither man was officially in overall command. Intending to mount a direct assault, Buchanan sent Virginia into Hampton Roads early on March 8. Five more ships followed the ship’s route. In the meantime, the Union also had five ships, accompanied by some support vessels, into the bay. Near Fort Monroe, several other ships were moored; one of these was the Roanoke, which ran aground as the USS Virginia approached and two additional vessels. Two of the three were taken out of the battle; the third, Minnesota’s frigate, later returned to action.

Virginia struck the USS Cumberland after a very small skirmish early in the day, ramming the ship and creating a hole below the waterline. With the loss of more than 120 lives, the ship sank rapidly. However, despite this success, Virginia herself was lucky not to go down because the ram of the ship had been stuck in the Cumberland hull. Virginia then advanced on the USS Congress, whose captain had told her to run aground to prevent the Cumberland’s fate from being repeated. The condition of the USS Congress, however, was hopeless after an hour, and Smith surrendered. Buchanan, who wanted to fire on the USS Congress with red-hot cannonballs, was enraged by Union shore guns. The ship caught fire, burning fiercely until it blew up that night as the flames entered its gunpowder store.

By now, Virginia herself had suffered some damage, making the already slow ship even more sluggish, while Buchanan was injured when a rifle shot hit his thigh. Meanwhile, the James River Squadron invaded Minnesota, and now Virginia joined the assault, but its deep draft made it difficult to get near, and as night fell, the attack was called off. Virginia instead returned to the Confederacy-controlled waters, hoping to return the next morning. The Union forces had lost 400 men and two ships at this point, with three more on the ground; the Confederacy had suffered two casualties and had maintained all its ships.

This was the worst loss the United States ever experienced. Before the Second World War, the Navy Secretary of War Edwin Stanton warned that Virginia could even manage to fire shells at the White House, but he was told that this would not happen because the ship was too huge for the river Potomac. Nevertheless, to secure Union ships and avoid Monitor from attacking its towns, Monitor was transferred to Hampton Roads as soon as possible. Captain Worden was ordered to defend Minnesota, and he took over the nearby station. On March 9, Virginia arrived at daybreak and assaulted the Monitor.

The Confederate commanders, who initially thought the ship was simply a boiler being towed down the river for repairs, were startled by the peculiar nature of the Monitor. However, once the ship’s true nature became apparent, a long war began, lasting several hours. Virginia opened with a shot toward Monitor; Minnesota was missing and struck, causing the ship to fire in response to a broadside. Since both ironclad ships were more robust in their defense than they were offensively and were capable of completely piercing the armor plating of the opposing ship without ammunition, neither side could make a decisive breakthrough.

After a few hours, a freak occurrence ended the battle: a wayward shell from Virginia hit the pilothouse of the Monitor, exploding. Worden was temporarily blinded by the debris, which forced Monitor to draw back before the executive officer, Lieutenant Samuel Dana Greene, could take over command. While Monitor returned to the fray then, Virginia’s crew was under the impression that she had withdrawn entirely. Jones chose to take her back to Norfolk because of this, along with the fact that Virginia herself had suffered considerable damage. To find her opponent going away, Monitor returned to the scene, and Greene misinterpreted the move as a retreat.

Virginia spent several weeks doing repairs to a dry dock. The blockade of the Union, meanwhile, was strengthened, with some new ironclads taking part. There was a standoff in which both the CSS Virginia captains and the USS Monitor refused to engage the other ship in action. The decision to leave Norfolk was made by Major General Benjamin Huger of the Confederacy on May 9, as it is now of limited strategic significance. Since Virginia was too big to travel upriver, she was intentionally sunk on her side to avoid causing her to be captured. The fate of the Monitor was different: she sank in a storm in December after being sent to North Carolina.

The fight, overall, was a draw. There were considerably more men and ships lost by the Union, but the vital blockade remained intact. The war of the Ironclads captured the attention of many other navies on a global scale. In particular, Russia, Britain, and France hurried to build ironclads, many of which were highly inspired by the USS Monitor in their designs. Rams were also used in several such ships. However, this innovation was something of a dead-end, as naval guns were sufficiently powerful by 1900 to make it almost impossible for close encounters between ships.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – The Frameless Mask

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

SCUBAPRO’s FRAMELESS mask is diving’s original frameless mask. The Frameless was the first mask to use the lens as its structural support, which significantly increased the field of vision for divers. Over twenty years later, it is still the first choice for military and technical divers worldwide.

Its distinctive rectangular single-lens shape is classic, providing an excellent field of view on the periphery as well as straight ahead. By eliminating the frame, you create a mask that sits closer to your eyes. This provides a broader field of view to better take in the underwater sights, plus it reduces volume, which makes it easier to clear. Since there is no frame, the buckles attach to flexible tabs on the skirt; this optimizes strap angle when dialing in the fit. This also enables the mask to fold relatively flat for packing; it will even sit well into a cargo pocket or a pouch. The soft silicone skirt on the Frameless is comfortable yet durable, and the double-edge seal that helps to give you a great fit. The push-button buckle system is easy to use and allows for quick adjustments. Buckles attach to flexible tabs on the skirt; this optimizes strap angle when dialing in fit. The wide headband spreads the load on the back of the head, greatly enhancing comfort.

SCUBAPRO has a family of Frameless masks, it’s a small family, but nevertheless, it is. There are three Frameless masks. First is the original mask; you can tell these because the mask has a little bit of a shine to the silicon skirt, and it is available in three different colors, Black, Green, and White. The Frameless Gorilla is a little bigger (not by much), and it comes in a flat black color. Last is the mini frameless. This one doesn’t look like the other ones, but it has frameless in its name, so it’s in the family.

SCUBAPRO is always trying to innovate for the working divers and set the standard for new gear. With this in mind, they came up with an adapter for the Frameless and Frameless Gorilla mask that allows them to use the SCUBAPRO comfort strap (QR kit Part Number 24.340.039). It can be added to existing masks and enable the user to add several new features to one of the most iconic masks ever made. SCUBAPRO’s comfort straps are basically like ski goggle straps for dive masks. SCUBAPRO was the first company to come out with the comfort strap idea, and they wanted the frameless masks to be able to use them also. There are a few benefits to using the comfort strap. First, it is a lot less likely to break mid-dive as it is a nylon strap; all rubber and silicone will break down after time. Most of the time, it is at the beginning of a dive or when you are putting your mask on.

The other thing this does is takes all the medal away from the mask, making it non-magnetic, so for EOD use or any other time; you might need a non-magnetic mask. Lastly, it allows you to use the SCUBAPRO Odin mask strap; this enables you to attach your mask directly to your helmet by connecting it to the Ops-Core ARC Rail and the Team Wendy rail. The Odin straps are perfect when you have to wear a helmet when diving or in the water. Like using a DPV, Wearing Jet-boots, Search and Rescue Operations, or working in Fast Moving Water. The Comfort Strap is similar to a ski goggle strap in design. It clips right into the mask buckle adapter and offers a wide adjustment range.

SCUBAPRO wanted a way for the Frameless mask to work with their latest dive computer, the Galileo HUD. There is a Frameless mask that has a hole added before it is tempered. This allows them to add a mount for it can be used with the HUD. We have new accessories for the classic Frameless mask. The latest version of the Frameless is available with an integrated HUD Arm that allows you to mount the SCUBAPRO HUD hands-free dive compute.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Shackleton

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

On 5 December 1914, the HMS Endurance left South Georgia for Antarctica, carrying 27 men (plus one stowaway who became the ship’s steward), 69 puppies, and a tomcat named, Mrs. Chippy. The goal of expedition leader Shackleton, who had once agonizingly fallen short of reaching the South Pole twice, was to establish a base on Antarctica’s Weddell Sea coast.

From there, on the first crossing of the continent, a small party, including himself, would eventually arrive at the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand, where another group would be waiting for them, having set up food and fuel depots along the way. Endurance joined the pack ice two days after leaving South Georgia, the barrier of dense sea ice standing guard across the Antarctic continent. The ship pushed its way through leads in the ice for several weeks, gingerly working its way south, but on 18 January, a northern gale jammed the pack hard against the ground and tightly squeezed the floes against each other. There was suddenly no way forward, nor any way back.

They were sailing from their landing place within a day; now, with each passing day, the ice’s drift was slowly moving them farther south. Nothing else could’ve been done but to create a routine and wait for the winter.

The crew saved as many provisions as they could in the time that passed between abandoning Resilience and watching the ice swallow it up entirely while sacrificing anything and anything that added weight or consumed valuable resources, including bibles, books, clothes, instruments, and keepsakes.

The original plan was to march toward the land through the ice, but that was abandoned after the men accomplished just seven and a half miles in seven days. There was no alternative,” Shackleton wrote, “except to camp on the floe again and to possess our souls with what patience we could until conditions would become more favorable for a revival of the attempt to escape.” The ice drifted further north slowly and steadily, and the snow-capped peaks of Clarence and Elephant Islands came into view on 7 April 1916, flooding them with hope.”

“The floe was a good friend to us,” Shackleton wrote in his diary, “but it has reached the end of its journey and is now obliged to break up at any moment.”

It did precisely that on 9 April, breaking with an almighty crack underneath them. Shackleton gave the order to break camp and launch the ships, and all of a sudden, they were finally free of the ice that had alternately surrounded them and supported them.

Now they had to deal with a new foe: the open ocean. It poured icy spray on their faces and threw cold water over them, beating the boats from side to side, and as they fought the elements and seasickness, it took brave men to the fetal position.

Captain Worsley navigated through the spray and the squalls through all of it before Clarence and Elephant Islands emerged just 30 miles ahead after six days at sea. The men had become tired. Worsley had not slept for 80 hours by that time. And although some have been crippled by seasickness, some have been wracked by dysentery. Frank Wild, the second-in-command of Shackleton, wrote that “at least half the party was insane.” But they rowed resolutely toward their target, and they clambered ashore on Elephant Island on 15 April.

They were on dry land for the first time since leaving South Georgia 497 days ago. Their ordeal was far from over, however. After nine days of healing and training, Shackleton, Worsley, and four others set out on one of the lifeboats, the James Caird, to seek aid from a whaling station in South Georgia, more than 800 miles away. The chance of someone coming across them was vanishingly slight.

They fought monstrous swells and furious winds for 16 days, blowing water out of the ships and beating ice out of the sails. Shackleton recorded, “The boat tossed endlessly at the great waves under grey, threatening skies.” Each surge of the sea was an adversary to be watched and circumvented.” The elements hurled their worst at them even as they were within touching distance of their goal: “The wind  screamed as it ripped the tops off the waves,” Shackleton wrote.” “Our little boat swung down into valleys, up to tossing heights, straining till her seams opened.”

The wind eased off the next day, and they made it ashore. Help was nearly at hand, but this was not the end, either. The winds had driven the James Caird off course, and from the whaling station, they had landed on the other side of the island. And so Shackleton, Worsley, and Tom Crean set out to reach it by foot, scrambling over mountains and sliding down glaciers, forging a route that no human being had ever forged before they stumbled into the station at Stromness after 36 hours of desperate hiking.

In no possible circumstances could three strangers possibly arrive at the whaling station from nowhere, definitely not from the mountains’ direction. And yet here they were: their stringy and matted hair and beards, their faces blackened with blubber stove soot, and creased from almost two years of tension and deprivation.

And the old Norwegian whaler remembered the scene when the three men stood in front of Thoralf Sørlle, the station manager:

The boss would say, “Who the hell are you?” ‘And in the middle of the three, the awful bearded man says very quietly:’ My name is Shackleton.’ I turn away and weep.’

Once the other three James Caird members were rescued, attention turned to the rescue of the remaining 22 men on Elephant Island. Yet, despite all that had gone before, this final mission proved to be the most challenging and time-consuming of all in many respects. Although attempting to cross the pack ice, the first ship on which Shackleton set out ran dangerously low on fuel and was forced to turn back to the Falkland Islands. The government of Uruguay provided a vessel that came within 100 miles of Elephant Island before being beaten back by the ice.

Every morning on Elephant Island, Frank Wild, left in charge by Shackleton, issued an appeal for everyone to “lash up and stow up” their belongings. Might the boss come today! “He proclaimed every day. His friends became increasingly bleak and questionable. Macklin reported on 16 August 1916, “Eagerly on the lookout for the relief ship.” “The hope of her coming was quite abandoned by some of the party.” Orde-Lees was one of them. “There is no longer any good in deceiving ourselves,” he wrote.

But Shackleton acquired from Chile a third ship, the Yelcho; eventually, on 30 August 1916, the Endurance saga and its crew came to an end. When they spied the Yelcho just off the shore, the men on the island were settling down to a lunch of boiled seal’s backbone. It had been 128 days since James Caird’s departure; everyone ashore had broken camp within an hour of the Yelcho emerging and left Elephant Island behind. Every one of the Endurance crew was alive and healthy twenty months after setting out for the Antarctic.

Never did Ernest Shackleton reach the South Pole or traverse the Antarctic. Another expedition to the Antarctic was initiated, but the Endurance veterans who accompanied him found that he seemed smaller, more timid, drained from the spirit that kept them alive. On 5 January 1922, he had a heart attack on a ship in South Georgia and died in his bunk. He was a mere 47.

Wild took the ship to Antarctica with his death, but it proved inadequate to the task, and he set course for Elephant Island after a month spent futilely trying to penetrate the pack. He and his comrades, from the safety of the deck, peered through binoculars at the beach where so many of them had been living in fear and hope.

“Once again, I see old faces and hear old voices, old friends scattered all over,” Macklin wrote. “It is impossible, however, to express all I feel.”

And with that, one last time, they turned north and went home.

Lifeline Tactical Rescue Tools – JAWZ Titanium

Friday, February 12th, 2021

The JAWZ Titanium from Lifeline is a maritime tool designed for underwater and surface emergencies. The tool features easy one-handed access for low visibility and restricted movement emergency situations. The device effectively cuts rope, monofilament line, netting, webbing, and other materials encountered underwater. The tool is made from Grade 38 ATI 425 Titanium Alloy with handles and sheath made from the latest in phosphorescent technology to dramatically increase underwater visibility with its glow-in-the-dark properties.