MDSU1 Chief Petty Officer Tom Lauersdorf goes over a pre-dive checklist with his support
crew on Saturday morning. The Denbigh Project provided MDSU1 a training
opportunity to document a wreck site near its drill station at Galveston.
Members of MDSU1 work on the foredeck of U.S. Coast Guard Buoy Tender 643503,
which was provided by the Aids to Navigation Team at Coast Guard Base Galveston. The
buoy tender made for an excellent diving platform.
A diver from MDSU1 prepares to go over the side. Although the water is
very shallow, the Navy divers used full equipment, including surface air supply and
communications gear, for training purposes.
May 7-10, 1998
The first major fieldwork on the Denbigh wreck was scheduled for
May 7-10, 1998. The project investigators were fortunate to be able to secure the
assistance of Detachment 111 of the U.S. naval Reserve's Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit
One (MDSU1, or "Mud-zoo One"), Inshore Boat Unit One Four and the Aids to
Navigation Team at U.S. Coast Guard Base Galveston. The major events of the
fieldwork accomplished were as follows:
Wednesday, May 6,1998
Principal Investigator Arnold traveled to Galveston and relocated benchmarks at Fort
Travis for GPS survey. Planning meeting in the evening.
Thursday, May 7, 1998
Initial familiarization dives on the wreck. Marked locations for several
prospective trilateration stations. Diver support for GPS survey. One diver placed the
bottom of the range rod on the spot to be surveyed, and one diver on the surface helped
the boat crew hold the range rod vertical. Five locations on the wreck were surveyed
providing X-Y-Z coordinates accurate to 1 cm. Also began measuring and drawing paddlewheel
frames and complex machinery spaces between the paddlewheels. Noted that the bottom
sediment was soft mud.
Friday, May 8, 1998
Familiarization dives and mapping of features exposed above the bottom sediments
continued. Facilitated press coverage by the Houston Chronicle and KBTX-TV
Channel 3 in College Station.
Saturday, May 9, 1998
Mapping continued. Circle search of 30m area forward of boiler exhaust casing
showed that there was no exposed wreckage in that area. Probing followed the starboard
edge of the intact hull remains abaft the paddiewheel for 2-3m. Probing forward of the
port paddlewheel was difficult due to jumbled wreckage in that area. The buried remains of
the site are covered by about 0.5 m of soft mud.
Sunday, May 10, 1998
Drawing of profile views of all four paddlewheel frames completed. (Each
paddlewheel had an inner and an outer frame that supported the paddles between them.) just
less than half of each paddle wheel was exposed above the bottom. Tom Oertling made good
progress on drawing the machinery between the paddlewheels.