Saturday, August 4, 2001

Bering wreck survey slated

Associated Press

SEATTLE >> The Coast Guard will return to the Bering Sea site of the Arctic Rose sinking in about two weeks for another look at the submerged wreckage, a venture expected to bring the cost of one of the agency's most expensive maritime investigations to more than $450,000.

The Coast Guard has already spent more than $300,000 investigating the 92-foot vessel's sudden sinking April 2 with 15 men aboard.

There were no survivors.

Would-be rescuers reached the scene hours later to find only the body of the skipper, David Rundall, who was a part-time resident of Hilo.

On July 18, Coast Guard investigators deployed a remote-controlled underwater camera at the site.

They got about 12 minutes of videotape before cable holding the $100,000 camera got snarled in lines from the sunken ship and snapped, losing the camera in 450 feet of water.

Investigators are prepared to spend $150,000 to return to the site, about 775 miles southwest of Anchorage, aboard the Ocean Explorer on Aug. 18.

This time, they are taking two cameras and a mechanical arm to cut any entangling lines.

Investigators also hope to explore a second site about four miles from the Arctic Rose, where satellites first picked up signals from the vessel's emergency locator beacon.

Coast Guard investigators had expressed concern about funding for a second expedition, but officials in Alaska and Washington, D.C., quickly approved the money required.

"They said that we started this and we've got to finish the job," said Lt. Cmdr. James Robertson, a member of the Coast Guard's three-man Board of Investigation looking into the sinking.

"The public expects us to have some answers."

The first video, shown to crew members' relatives last month, showed the vessel resting upright on the sea floor.

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