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Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:31 am
by phillips
This post will document the June 2011 mission to document the USS Houston, a United States Navy cruiser that sank while gallantly fighting the Japanese Navy in World War II. This is the third trip utilizing VideoRay remotely operated vehicles and the support of VideoRay as well as the Houston Family is greatly appreciated. We hope to bring awareness of this brave battle to all who view this post and the trials that the survivors underwent is without parallel. We will document the current state of this vessel as she lays on the bottom of the Sunde Strait in Indonesia using the latest in VideoRay underwater robotics, Blueview sonar as well as side scan sonar. Of course, the expedition team treats this site with dignity and respect, to best preserve the sanctity of this site.

Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:36 am
by phillips
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:05 am
by phillips
The Sunde Strait northwest of Jakarta Indonesia greets the dive team with a beautiful sunrise. Now at peace, these waters cover the relics of a naval battle that occurred on March 1 , 1942, involving vessels from the Australian, Brittish, Dutch, and American allied fleet (ABDA), versus the Empire of Japan, whose military was in the process of attempting conquest of the South Pacific.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:24 am
by phillips
The boat used by the dive team is the Motor Vessel K/M Harvest whose homeport is Jakarta. The team has made a decision to stay aboard this vessel for the duration of the trip. The boat is 33 meters (100ft) and has Captain, and crew. Full dive gear and compressor are aboard as well as power for the VideoRay Pro 4 ROV.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:32 am
by phillips
Dive Team Leader Jerry Ranger places the flag of the United States on the USS Houston. This has been a tradition of the team and honors the sailors who fought here and those that lost their lives here.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:45 am
by phillips
Diver and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Operator Dave Phillips with VideoRay Pro 4 ROV. The system will be utilized for underwater video and sonar documentation of the USS Houston. The Pro 4 features a high resolution color camera, LED lighting, a KCF Smart Tether postioning System, a BlueView multi-beam sonar and a manipulator "claw". This system is very cutting-edge and features more powerful thrust than previous systems used by the team.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:03 am
by phillips
Although divers are challenged by poor visibility and the oceans tidal movements, the multi-beam sonar on the VideoRay provides unique insight of the Houston's current state. Below are images of the ship's mid-deck and fore-top areas as viewed with sonar. The Houston continues to maintain her overall recognizable features, even though almost 70 years beneath the waves have structurally taken their toll.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:59 am
by phillips
Foretop lookout station on fore-top mast of the Houston. Currently, this is located at 100 foot depth (33 meters)
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:36 am
by phillips
A fairlead on the port fore-deck of the Houston. A Lynn Hawk video enhancement system is built into the ROV's operating system.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:57 pm
by phillips
The bottom of Gun Turret 2 is exposed. While she sank, Houston listed heavily starboard and it is believed the large gun turrets fell out and on the sea floor when this happened. The Houston now rests on her starboard side.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:16 pm
by phillips
A pair of Lionfish stand sentry over the flags placed on the Houston. A Navy, Marine, Prisoner of War (POW), and American Flag fly above the hangar bay. Lionfish are a beautiful and common site on the wreck of the Houston, and are intensely curious fish. Their venomous fin-barbs appear to give them more courage than other species, and divers must watch out for where they reside.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:45 pm
by phillips
The picture below is a long-range sonar overview of the USS Houston on the bottom. Orientation is Bow: Left, Stern:Right. The large "cloud" between the fore and aft mast towers is thousands of fish. The sonar utilized is a Starfish side-scan sonar provided by Tritech,UK.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:04 pm
by phillips
Dave Phillips with Pro 4 ROV on a "safety stop" while ascending. Divers routinely stop at the 7 meter depth (20 feet) for 3-4 minutes to let built-up nitrogen leave their bodies. This is one measure to help prevent the bends.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:15 pm
by phillips
Eerie images from within the hangar bay (mid-ships) looking out.

Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:25 pm
by phillips
Jerry Ranger, son of Houston battle Survivor and POW John Ranger, tends to the ROV tether. Zip ties were used to secure the tether to the diver's down line to minimize the effect of current on the ROV.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:41 pm
by phillips
Marine growth coats a group of pipes/conduit in the hangar area. The years of salt-water corrosion are taking their toll on the structure of the wreck.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:31 pm
by phillips
A fully intact port-hole with glass and battle-cover as seen by the ROV. These are now rare on the Houston, as decades of treasure-seekers have taken many artifacts from the wreck. In the weeks following her sinking, it is believed the Japanese Navy were the first to salvage from this site.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:45 pm
by phillips
A view into the abyss from inside the large cavity left behind when turret 3 fell onto the sea floor. Here, ROV tether and a copper cable from the turret flow together in the current.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:24 pm
by phillips
Houston Team Diver Mason Logie checks gear while ascending. Mason's historical knowledge and ability to mentally "catalog" locations while diving have been strong assets on this mission.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:36 pm
by phillips
A puffer-fish, noteably alarmed, checks out the ROV's manipulator
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:42 pm
by phillips
A steel beam from one of the Houstons ceilings in remarkably good condition. The team noted that steel plating and beams in many parts of the ship are now crumbling
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:28 am
by phillips
A sailor's bunk located in its final resting position. As the Houston came to rest on her starboard side on the seafloor, lockers, bunks, and other items once on the floor, re-settled on the starboard walls of the vessel.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:45 am
by phillips
Jerry Ranger with the Captain and crew of the K/M Harvest, the vessel used for the dive. Even though there has been a language barrier, these experienced seafarers and fishermen were a valuable part of assisting with the dives and ROV tether handling.
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:20 am
by phillips
USS Houston Survivor Harry Kelly passed away recently. Mr. Kelly's family requested that the dive team place a photo and Harry's Navy cap on the Houston, a task that the team was honored to do. An article on Harry Kelly and his life can be found at the following link:

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/sep/1 ... -prisoner/

Harry Kelly as well as the other survivors of the battle of the Java Sea, and those who died there, represent perhaps America's greatest generation. We remember their lives and grieve the loss of these warriors.

Dave Phillips salutes Mr. Kelly just prior to the team placing his photo and Navy cap on the USS Houston[/attachment]
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Re: Return to the USS Houston - June 2-18, 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:22 pm
by phillips
The sun sets over the Sunde Strait leaving a trail of gold on the sea. The buoy marks the location of the Houston and her intended coarse prior to battle would have followed this golden trail.
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