99 years ago today - Saturday 17th October 2015 - a 'super-dreadnought' Pennsylvania-class battleship was commissioned.
Today's live dive will be broadcast via the web
16.00 Hawaii-Aleutian time
19.00 Pacific time
20.00 Mountain time
22.00 Eastern Standard time
Follow this link to watch 'The Living Arizona' live dive today
She was named after the 48th state in the United States. She is of course the USS Arizona. Today her commissioning birthday is being celebrated with a live transmitted dive on this historic wreck, conducted by key personnel from the NPS.
The NPS (National Park Service) has a dedicated underwater section called the 'Submerged Resources Section' that looks after everything underwater in the National Parks. Their 'office' varies day to day. One day it will be the geysers in Yellowstone Park or the Dry Tortugas coral reefs. The next day the team could be diving steamers sunk in the frigid waters of Isle Royale in Lake Superior, the kelp forests of the Channel Islands, or the Pacific National Monument in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.
On the 7th December 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the USS Arizona was bombed. She exploded and sank killing 1,177 officers and crewmen. Today the wreck is a memorial to all those who died during the attack.
The closest the public can get to diving this special wreck is via a very rare live dive. Brett Seymour, underwater photographer and Deputy Chief of the NPS Submerged Resources Centre, is filming the 'Live Dive' along with staff from WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument which manages the site.
We are constantly trying to connect the new generation to the shipwreck and its significant while honouring the generation that lost so many during WWII
"I have had the honour to dive this site more than any other in my career - and it is always a sobering experience. Arizona is a physical touchstone to the events on 7th December 1941, both in terms of the magnitude of war seen through in the ships destruction and the human connection as seen through the artifacts still lying on the deck. Even after hundreds of dives on the site, there is always a reverence for the nearly 1000 sailors and marines still entombed within the ship", stated Brett Seymour.
Steve Sellers, National Parks Service Diving Safety Officer, has also been privileged to dive this historic wreck.
“I always find this a mentally mixed dive because of conflicting emotions. It is always humbling to dive a war grave. You just get this feeling of overwhelming loss when you are on the wreck, knowing just how many were lost during the attack. And it is also a pretty interesting neat site because it is so well preserved. She has got some of her guns in place. As the harbour is cleaned up, the Arizona is being covered in more biological growth which is truly spectacular. Shipwrecks will always have these two aspects, the cultural and the environmental. I am fortune that my job allows me such a personal glimpse of this special place.”
Unlike the marble memorials our nation uses to symbolize the past, the Arizona is still there...still resting in silence just beneath the waters of Pearl Harbour. This ship truly is a touchstone to the past"
Today's live dive is going to be broadcast via the web and seen locally in the theater at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Centre. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/valr in the Features section. On-line registration through Adobe Connect for the webcast can be found HERE. During the dive the audience will be able to ask the dive team questions via a moderator in the theatre or social media (Facebook and Twitter) using hashtag #USSAZ99.
This event, the third time the broadcast has been done, follows the success of a live broadcast last December to four of the remaining eight USS Arizona Survivors. The National Park Service hope to do it more often.