Bismarck Expeditions

James Cameron's Expedition: Bismarck May - June 2002

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Expedition Diary
Commemorations

Friday 24. May 2002:

I got out of bed at 05:00.

We were now in the English Channel.

Exactly 61 years ago to the day, on 24 May 1941, the British battlecruiser HMS Hood was sunk.

Photo: These photos show you the amazing light that appeared shortly before the HMS Hood commemoration. It disappeared again right after the ceremony. It was almost like a sign from above.

I participated in a commemoration (at the exact time it happened) for the victims from the sinking of HMS Hood. Shortly before the ceremony started, the most fantastic light appeared in the sky from the sunrise. It was for me a very moving ceremony. When the ceremony was over the fantastic light disappeared (due to clouds covering the sun). It was almost like a sign and was a strong experience.

Photo: Shortly before the HMS Hood commemoration. People are preparing for the commemoration. Notice the amazing light caused by the sunrise.
Photo: John Asmussen after the HMS Hood commemoration. Not one of the most joyful moments. Notice that the amazing light from earlier now had disappeared.

The official time on board was set back one hour at 06:15 (immediately after the ceremony).

Another meeting in Mission Control as always in the morning.

I had a new meeting regarding the material I was preparing for the Discovery Channel.

I was later dressed up as Able Seaman Newell, the lookout that first spotted the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen on the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk in the Denmark Strait on 23. May 1941 at 07:22. I should act like I spotted the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen while I was filmed. It was a tough job especially because the weather had worsened and was in a storm and heavy sea. I almost blew overboard the Keldysh and feared I would loose the binoculars at any time.

Due to the heavy storm some members of the team started to get sea sick. Our speed was between 7-9 knots.

I went to bed at 00:45 in the morning.

Saturday 25. May 2002:

At 06:00 the Keldysh made a short stop outside of Falmouth in England. This was because a pilot boat was bringing out some extra equipment and an extra man on board.

I got out of bed at 07:00.

The time was set back another hour at 09:30.

Next stop was the wreck site of the Bismarck.

I spent most of the time in Mission control watching older video recordings of the wreck of the Bismarck together with James Cameron. Our main target was to find openings where the ROV's (Remotely Operated Vehicle) could get inside the Bismarck.

The ship rolled a lot and the speed was down to about 6,5 knots.

I went to bed at 01:30 in the morning.

Sunday 26. May 2002:

I got out of bed at 06:30.

We were still on our way to the Bismarck wreck site. We expected to be at the wreck site next morning.

Photo: The Keldysh in the North Atlantic on its way to the Bismarck wreck site (fore and aft view).

The ship was still rolling a lot and several team members were sea sick.

I spent all day preparing material and information for the dives, drawings and details about the exterior and expecially the interior of the Bismarck.

I went to bed at 02:00 in the morning.

Monday 27. May 2002:

I got out of bed at 06:30.

We arrived at the Bismarck wreck site at 10:50 which sadly was 10 minutes after the exact time of the sinking of the ship 61 years ago.

At 10:55 a private commemoration for the victims of the sinking of Bismarck took place involving our two Bismarck survivors (Karl Kuhn and Walter Weintz) only.

Photo: Bismarck survivor Walter Weintz (left photo) on his way to his private Bismarck commemoration which he would hold together with Bismarck survivor Karl Kuhn (right photo).
Photo: Karl Kuhn and Walter Weintz at their private Bismarck commemoration. Here Walter Weintz makes a speech.

At 11:15 a commemoration was held involving all members of the team. Following speeches, from both James Cameron and Bismarck survivor Walter Weintz, we held one minute of silence. The Keldysh saluted by using its fog horn.

Photo: Karl Kuhn and Walter Weintz at their private Bismarck commemoration. Here Walter Weintz makes a speech. It was considered a private Bismarck commemoration but they were not alone as the film crew filmed the occasion.
Photo: Karl Kuhn and Walter Weintz here throw the wreath in the water at the location where their ship sunk together with most of their shipmates and friends 61 years earlier. An experince that forever changed their lives.
Photo: Karl Kuhn and Walter Weintz here salutes their ship and dead shipmates while the wreath drifts away from the Keldysh.

Following the commemoration the Keldysh started to sail around the wreck site to put out 4 transponders. The transponders were going to assist so the submersibles could be directed to the wreck.

I spent all day preparing material and information for the dives, drawings and details about the exterior and expecially the interior of the Bismarck. The material was going to be used in the submersibles during the dives

The weather was still rough and the ship was rolling quite a lot.

I went to bed at 05:30 in the morning.



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