On Sunday, February 18, 2001, a team of SCRET divers conducted an exploration dive on the remains of the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge, nicknamed "Galloping Gertie." The purpose of the dive was to explore and obtain video documentation of the sections of the wreckage lying in deeper water that have not previously been documented.
Mixed Gas Diver & videographer Andrew Georgitsis prepares to descend under the reflection of the new Narrows bridge.
The team launched from the Tacoma Narrows Marina around 11:00 AM after loading the boats. After a short ride to the dive site, the group enjoyed the beautiful weather while waiting for slack. By approximately 12:45 PM, the current had begun to slow enough to allow the divers to get into the water and start their dive. Conditions looked to be excellent, with little wind or surface chop, and what appeared to be outstanding visibility.
Kurt Kauth gears up on the boat.
All four divers descended as a team. Once on the bottom, Andrew and Nick set up the video while Kurt and Mark freed the grappel and sent it to the surface via lift bag. Once the hook was off the bottom, the team began to explore and video the wreckage. The team did not run a line and planned a free-hang deco. This allowed them to cover a greater distance and explore more of the wreckage.
Visibility on the dive was incredible - It was at least as far as the lights could reach - easily 30' - 40'. From 40' underwater you could see the bridge above!!! The current was still running on the bottom, but was easily manageable with the Gavin scooters. The team was able to cover a significant area and obtained some AWESOME video. As we approached the end of our bottom time, the intensity and pace began to pick up as we tried to get as much of the wreckage on tape as possible. It was hard to pull Andrew off the bottom when our 25 minutes was up, but we managed to convince him it was time to leave. Average depth was 215' and bottom time was 25 min.
Nick Foster riding a good friend's scooter along the bridge wreckage.
Everyone left the bottom as a team and proceeded up to the required deco stops. At 70' Andrew and Nick shot a bag for our free floating deco. Our safety diver, Miranda, met the team at 70’, confirmed that they were OK, and reported back to the surface. She helped clean up the divers and then hung out with them while they finished their decompression. At the end of the dive, everyone climbed out into the sunshine and viewed the video on a monitor on the boat.
On a second dive, Miranda and Jim dropped down into shallower water with a mission to video the existing bridge while coming up from the bottom and breaking the surface. They were able to obtain a beautiful shot of the bridge, and then did a drift dive as the current picked up.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the dive including:
• Bob Mester and Andrew Georgitsis for providing the boats, Delphini and Sav I
Special thanks to Bob Mester of Underwater Atmospheric Systems, Inc. for surface support, coordination, and background information.