The First Loss: USCG Alexander Hamilton

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Team Blue Immersion, a team of technical divers based in Dahab Egypt, along with the cooperation of Ocean Reef Inc., has successfully applied a plaque to the USCG Alexander Hamilton in memorial of the 26 soldiers who were lost on January 29, 1942.

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Due to its high speed, long range, and good sea-keeping abilities, the 327-foot Coast Guard vessel served a prominent role in the protection of the US/Allied forces in the Northern Atlantic area.

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On Dec 27, only 3 weeks after Pearl Harbor, USCG Alexander Hamilton was towing the disabled store ship Yukon, which was, passed off to a British rescue tug Frisky where Alexander Hamilton moved forward to accompany the destroyed USS Gwinn. Unaware of a German U-132 submarine had moved into position and fired numerous torpedoes, Alexander Hamilton was struck between the Engine and Fire room killing a total of 26 men. Crippled and motionless, the crew began to abandon ship in anticipation of a second attack, later to be picked up by Icelandic fishing boats. A recue mission of the vessel was hindered by bad weather and at 7:57 the U.S.S Ericksson sunk the cutter to the seafloor. The USCG Alexander Hamilton is 28 miles off the coast of Iceland and was the first vessel to be sunk in the Atlantic during WWII.

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“It’s an amazing story and something our team is very proud to be apart of,” says Aron Arngrimsson. The location of Alexander Hamilton was a mystery until recently, when the Icelandic Coast Guard spotted an oil leak from the vessel during a routine training operation. With the Help of Gavia, creators of a highly sophisticated autonomous underwater vehicle, it was positively identified as USCG Alexander Hamilton.

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The team conducted some preliminary dives two years ago and was the first divers to visit the site. The increased connection with the families brought to fruition a new expedition, with the sole purpose of applying a memorial plaque to those lost.

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“Dives to a depth of 95 m/311 feet presents dangerous challenges. Extreme environmental condition’s, a complex task of carrying and applying the memorial, and film equipment complicates this tenfold,” explains Erik Brown. The use of highly specialized equipment, Ocean Reef Integrated Diving Masks, camera gear, and varying gas mixtures are essential. After overcoming some of the logistical issues while conducting a dive in such a remote area with the help of many in the Icelandic diving community, the dive was an overwhelming success.

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“I don’t think it could have gone better. The weather cooperated with us and everyone on the team performed their duties as planned. We had great support in the water and on the surface,” states Chris Haslam “I think it is important closure to such an important story, not only in historical contexts but also for the people who were left behind from such a tragedy,” adds Jonas Samuelsson.

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Video: https://vimeo.com/76280458

Categories: News

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