How electronics technology has revolutionized shipwreck hunting and exploration.
“In the old days” finding a shipwreck was done by dragging an anchor to see what it would snag, and diving the finds was limited to shallow water, using open circuit diving gear breathing air, and with decompression conducted using US Navy decompression tables. These days shipwreck hunters use state of the art sidescan sonar systems, electronically controlled rebreather life support systems, and rely on computerized tools to calculate decompression schedules using a variety of breathing gasses. Listen to Capt’s Jitka Hanáková and Dave Sutton describe the evolution of technology for shipwreck hunting and exploration; and enjoy Jitka’s photographs of wrecks being explored using state of the art systems.
About the Presenters
Captain Jitka Hanáková is the owner of Shipwreck Explorers LLC, and Owner/Captain of the charter boat Molly V, based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shipwreck Explorers offer recreational and technical scuba diving trips throughout the Western Great Lakes, operating Molly V seasonally from remote sites in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. Jitka is an avid Great Lakes diver, underwater photographer, and also enjoys free-diving, cave diving, and ocean wreck diving. She has dived waters ranging from the Great Lakes to caves in Florida and salt water wrecks in the Atlantic Ocean including the wreck of the Andrea Doria.
Jitka has been diving since 2000, has been using rebreathers (closed circuit) mixed-gas technology since 2008, and has successfully used this technology to gain access to cold water shipwrecks at depths approaching 400 feet. A US Coast Guard Licensed Captain, she has been working and diving aboard Molly V since 2007 and has been Molly’s Owner and Captain since 2008. Jitka has been active in both terrestrial research and on-water searching for new discoveries for many years. Her first discovery was the steamer M.H. Stuart in 2009, then the historic discovery of the steamship L.R. Doty in the spring of 2010. This world-class discovery resulted in a National Geographic documentary the “Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes”, which has aired on national television.
Jitka was most recently the keynote speaker at the Ghost Ships Festival in 2011, where she shared her experiences finding and diving the wreck of the L.R. Doty. Captain Hanáková and her team have plans for many more discoveries using a recently acquired Klein 3000 sidescan sonar system, judged by many to be the most sophisticated wreck- searching sonar system available in the world. Jitka works as a Business Analyst / Systems Consultant for local firms when the lakes are frozen.
A diver since 1966, when he first took to the cold waters of Rhode Island with his father, Dave Sutton has been cold water wreck diving since 1974. Obtaining a degree in Underwater Technology from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1979, he worked as a Commercial Diver using air, surface supplied mixed gas, and saturation diving methods in support of offshore oil field construction in the Gulf of Mexico for several years before heading to Antarctica, where he worked for two seasons as a marine science technician and cold weather survival instructor for the United Stated Antarctic Research Program.
Returning to the USA, he continued to work as a Commercial Diver while wreck diving for recreation. He holds a USCG 100 Ton Master License, and has worked aboard well known East Coast dive boats including SEEKER and WAHOO as a Mate and Captain. In 2005 he purchased his own offshore dive boat, EXPLORER, and has captained her on several successful expeditions to dive the wreck of the Andrea Doria, among other locations. He has dived many of the major cold water wrecks in the USA, including in addition to the Andrea Doria such locations as the USS Monitor. An early adopter to rebreathers, he has been diving rebreathers since 1978, and has consulted as an expert to several major manufacturers of rebreathers as well as having built over fifty of them in his own shop.
These days he spends summers in the Great Lakes aboard MOLLY V, and winters “someplace down south” aboard EXPLORER, shipwreck hunting, running charters, and teaching rebreathers and technical diving techniques. He is a recipient of the Antarctica Service Medal, and is a Member of the Explorers Club and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. When he’s not diving, he is likely out in the desert someplace at his “Day Job”, flying Russian MiG’s for the Department of Defense as a Contract Instructor for the USN and USAF Test Pilot Schools.