Under the Sea (off New Jersey)

On Memorial Day weekend, my brother-in-law HR invited me to tour the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, CT. The centerpiece of the Museum is the submarine Nautilus, America’s first nuclear submarine. HR was in the Navy and served on Seawolf, which was almost identical to Nautilus. The Nautilus tour involved scrambling through hatches and up and down steep stairs. The compact efficiency and impressive technology fascinated me. We had a great time!

Climbing through Nautilus reminded me of a favorite book, Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II, by Robert Kurson, published in 2004. I’ve lived in New Jersey for many years, and I know “wreck diving” as the hobby and obsession of people who love risk. This book tells in exciting detail about the discovery and investigation of a German U-boat (U-869) from WW II. It was the kind of adventure divers dream about, stumbling onto something complex, improbable and historically significant. Shadow Divers is so well written that I couldn’t put it down.

While checking Amazon.com for publication date, etc., I learned of two other books on the finding of U-869 – Shadow Divers Exposed: the Real Saga of the U-869 by Gary Gentile, published in 2006, and The Last Dive: A Father and Son’s Fatal Descent in the Ocean’s Depths by Bernie Chowdhury (2012). The later examines one of the crucial events described in Shadow Divers, the terrible day when the father and son team of Chris and Chrisy Rouse goaded each other into diving in poor conditions, and both perished. You wish you could grab them and scream “Don’t do it!”

So now there are two more books for me to read. I’ll put them on my Kindle for my next vacation. Thanks, HR, for reminding me how exciting undersea adventure can be.

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