Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wreck of the SS President Coolidge, Vanuatu

Inside the galley of the Coolidge. Depth 155 feet. Deep wreck penetrations were an adventure. Thankfully, the dive guide, Dave Cross knew the interior of the wreck by heart. I would never have found the way out!

Diving on the Main Promenade Deck. Note the ship is lying on it's port side. Depth70 feet.
Willey's military jeeps and tires in the Cargo Hold Number 2. Depth 110 feet.
6,000 troops were evacuated from the wreck in just over one hour prior to the wreck rolling over and sinking on the port side.
First Class Smoking Lounge Room during the luxury cruise days. Note "The Lady" located over the fireplace.
The icon of the Coolidge know as "The Lady" is a porcelain tapestry kept clean by the dive guides. Depth 150 feet.
Helmets, canteens, and carbines abandoned by the troops during the emergency evacuation. Orders were given to leave all gear as the troops were dropping carbines and gear on the heads of evacuating soldiers below them causing injuries to many of the troops.


Large condensers provided fresh water for the steam boilers. Steam was generated to drive turbines that powered electrical generators to power two 20,000 horsepower General Electric electrical motors that turned the twin propellers and also provided electrical power to the ship.
Dave Cross diving in the First Class Swimming Pool. Depth 170 feet.
Various electrical gauges in the Main Engine Room. Depth 155 feet.
The engine telegraph inside the Engine Room. Depth 155 feet. The test was to read the last telegraph command while experiencing nitrogen narcosis at depth. I read through blurred vision the last order as "Finished With Engines" Correct answer, but no prize!
General Motors Corporation heavy trucks, drive axles and tires in Cargo Hold Number Two.


Final minutes before the sinking. The Coolidge was sunk after striking a "friendly mine" while straying out of the safe channel during entrance to the port of Luganville, Santo Island, Vanuatu.

A 470 pound Queensland Grouper named Boris was another icon of the wreck. I took this photo in June 2001. On another passage back to Vanuatu in 2004 I made numerous dives on the Coolidge again and was told Boris passed away in 2003.
Boris made the long, boring, cold, and tiring decompression stops fun with his antics. He was huge!
Brass decorative lamp in the Main Lounge Area. Depth 85 feet.



3 comments:

strong kava said...

Brian,
We will link this to our ozzie clients. Good to hear you are into digital now. You got to get rid of those 35mm cameras and housings mate.
It's always KAVA:30 on Aore Island.

cold water wanker said...

170 feet jeez...Smitty are you still making those deep dives.

waterworks said...

I'm not at liberty to discuss this...my wife follows the blog...