Back in May of 2003, Captain Kujo received a call that took him on a quest for history, for renewal, and for knowledge. As a member of the Submerged Cultural Resource Unit within the National Parks Service, the Captain has had many opportunities in the past to dive some of the richest cultural sites in the country. Lake Powell. Lake Mead. The Amistad. Dry Tortugas. The Everglades. You name the place, and the Captain has probably been there with his dry suit on. This time it was the folks at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii who made the call.
Oil Leaks from the USS Arizona
Ever since the ship was sunk in the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, oil has been leaking from the USS Arizona. For the longest time, until the 1980s in fact, nothing was done about it. But as times changed and as people became more conscious of the environment, efforts began to examine the leaks with the ultimate goal to put an end to them. But first they had to study what was going on, find out where the oil was coming from and how much of it was leaking per day.
That’s where the Captain came in.
“They wanted me to build a unit that could trap the oil as it leaked from the ship,” says the Captain. “I put together a nylon structure that had a wetsuit sleeve at the end of it. When submerged, the whole thing stood up like a tent so it could capture the oil for further inspection.”
Thanks to the Captain’s work, they now know that the Arizona is leaking from 2 to 9 quarts of oil each day, depending on conditions.
The Captain didn’t just go straight to the ship and start diving. He first went through the whole memorial experience on the beach, and then took the solemn boat ride to the monument on the water. “You could tell you were at a cemetery,” he said. “You get the sense of the sacredness of the place. It’s hallowed ground.”
To this day, the USS Arizona houses over 1100 sailors and marines who were killed in the massive explosion that sunk the ship. The site is also an active cemetery. Veterans who served on the ship and survived the attack have the option to be buried there after they pass. Some survivors have their ashes spread over the water. Some choose to have their cremains taken under water by Navy divers to be placed in the ship’s gun turret #4.
It’s a touching reminder of the horrors of war, and the unthinkable sacrifice that the men and women of the US military made to give us the freedoms we hold dear.
The Captain says he was honored to be a part of the exploratory mission in 2003 and still holds a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that his efforts aided to solve at least a small puzzle in relation to the USS Arizona. The Captain and USIA are always ready to help, because, as we say, it’s not just equipment, it’s a lifestyle.
Sources: nysfda.org | wikipedia.org | nps.gov