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Day 3 we planned for another aggressive day of 3 dives, with some penetration and exploration on the agenda. After a detailed review of the deck plans the prior evening our dive team today consisted of Andrew Georgitsis, Gideon Liew and I. We entered the wreck at 170’ into the starboard side torpedo room hatch, formerly residing on the forecastle deck. Our journey inside took us through the forecastle deck down into the upper deck of the Captains Ward room, mess area, stewards and cooks quarters and the Ward officers pantry sitting in 185’. Along the way we were reminded of the casualties of battle as human evidence of the carnage is still prominently present. We continued through the Captains office, the chaplain’s cabin, under the torpedo tubes, past the commander’s cabin and into the ammo hoist. We attempted to document what ever evidence we could in terms of what torpedo’s were used, what tubes were full and which weren’t, and how much ammo remained in an admittedly amateurish attempt to piece together the final moments. As I often do when I swim through a wreck, I attempt to envision this time capsule of a very precise moment in history with a mindset of what were the participants thinking, feeling and wondering during this epic moment in history. Constant reminders tend to humanize the event in my mind such as when you swim through the bunk cabins, mess area and Captains quarters and you still can see ample evidence of the loss of life. The physical evidence of destruction is self-evident instantly upon the image of the wreck coming into focus upon the initial descent. The intangible evidence respecting the human component, the omnipresent time capsule of history and the historical significance of the wreck has long been my passion during wreck diving, and to that end I offer that the HMS Repulse is replete with opportunities to visit the past, chronicle her demise and take a peak into an event that took place 63 years ago that forever changed the lives of so many families, that changed the course of the war and a day that will live on in infamy.
Dive 2 that day consisted of Andrew Georgitsis, Dan Mackay, Marcel Grimm and I. Marcel and I had previously explored the stern, scoped out some targets of interest and plotted our desired photo opportunities. The rudder and a few impact points were the focal points for this dive. The current was screeching in the 4 knot range which made setting up prime photo opportunities more challenging then we would have preferred. Andrew G pulled out his A game for this effort, while the models did their best to maintain position against the current without stirring the silt, creating backscatter or detracting from the objective. The journey out took 11 minutes to reach the rudder at an average depth of 160’. We came to know this rather pronounced turtle that would call home to the fatal impact point. As usual we would meet our new found friend at about 165’ and by now he had become accustomed to our frequent visits and decided to stay put. His routine had been to relocate upon our descent; however I believe he now felt comfortable and unthreatened by our presence. On this particular dive I was more impressed then earlier with the robust marine life, the abundance of growth and the vast amount of groupers, lion fish, angel fish, marble rays, and assorted other tropical fish that have made a home there. With our dive objective accomplished, our 35 minute bottom time reached we took advantage of the current and lazily made our way back to our turtle friend to begin the 55 minute pilgrimage home. By this point on the trip we had planned to depart the HMS Repulse and navigate towards the HMS Prince of Wales, but with unanimity amongst the group we were all so enamored with the Repulse that we agreed that too many unexplored opportunities remained, and our team efforts were producing results that were beyond the scope of our initial expectations so to abandon now seemed a less then optimal idea. Accordingly, we stayed the course and planned for the next day’s quest on the Repulse, The Prince of Wales will have to wait for our more then certain return to this awesome spot.
Dive 3 we presumed the current would still be kicking so we planned once again to penetrate the area that we had been exploring around the Forecastle deck and Upper decks. We had made some nice progress previously around the Captains quarters so this time we decided to venture off a bit to find the gun room galley, the ammo hoist and the ship’s galley. Using a similar entrance to our earlier dives we were able to get inside and spend a fair amount of time exploring our desired areas. The wreck was becoming familiar to us, the penetration routes were allowing for some good exploration and we were capturing unique images that would make the evening video review session much more enjoyable. 30 minutes seemed to elapse too quickly and once again we started our journey home. We had been doing a fair amount of bottom times so we started adding some conservancy to our deco profiles so the rides home were getting longer and longer.