Divers Find Product Aboard Sunken WWII Tanker

By David Cleary | ENVIRO FOCUS | JUNE 2009 | www.pacmar.com

In 2007, Associated Underwater Services (AUS) completed a detailed underwater investigation of the USS Chehalis (AOG-48), a WWII-era navel gasoline tanker resting on the bottom of Pago Pago harbor in American Samoa, and discovered a large quantity of product still aboard. Now the company wants the contract to salvage the vintage high-octane aviation fuel, but several obstacles stand in the diving company’s way.

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Deep Courage


Commercial diver Kerry Donohue rides a tugboat to the eastern caisson – or foundation – of the new Tacoma Narrows bridge. Donohue, vice president of Associated Underwater Services of Spokane, is one of 16 divers working on the bridge. They are removing roofs from 30 airtight chambers at the caisson’s base.

Just hearing about Kerry Donohue’s job is enough to make some people queasy.

He’s a commercial construction diver, working at the bottom of the two foundations of the new Tacoma Narrows bridge. He works alone, inside spaces that are a lot like elevator shafts, with 15 stories of concrete and salt water above him. At that depth, no natural light penetrates. The only illumination comes from his headlamp.

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