Deep Dive


by Lynn




“Contact Sir,”  Ski announced, satisfied that they had found the elusive shipwreck in so much water.


Captain Lee Crane rounded the Chart Table and strode to the sonar panel looking over Kowalski's shoulder.


“Dead Slow,” Lee said over his shoulder as the Skipper's order was repeated by Seaview's Executive Officer, Lt. Commander Chip Morton.


“Aye Sir, Dead Slow.”


Lee could feel the great submarine answer helm's response as Chip joined him at Sonar. 


“Should be coming into view soon,” Chip observed as Lee nodded and picked up the microphone hanging on the periscope island.


“Admiral Nelson, this is Crane,”  Lee waited for a response as he continued to scan sonar's readings.


“Nelson here.  What do you have Lee?”


“Contact Sir, we should be in position to see it in a couple of minutes.”


“Fine.  We'll be right there.”


Lee stepped away from the sonar and headed to the Admiral's Front Porch to view the World War II Merchant Marine Vessel for himself.  Chip followed as they peered through the darkness waiting for Seaview's lights to catch the great ship.


“Chip, add more flood lights,”  Lee said, it seemed that the ocean was especially dark, even for a depth of 200 feet.


“Aye Sir,” Chip moved to execute the order as Lee heard the sounds of two sets of shoes making themselves down the spiral staircase.  He turned toward the sound seeing exactly who he had expected to see, Admiral Harriman Nelson and the Underwater Archeologist, Professor Sam Westerly.  About that time additional flood lights activated and a shadowy figure of a ship could be seen up ahead.


“All Stop,”  Lee ordered.


“All Stop, Aye.”


“Good work Lee,”  Harry said with a satisfied smile as he and Sam stepped up closer to Seaview's Herculite windows.  


“When can we go out and take a look?”  Sam asked excitedly.


“We'll send out an advance team first to ascertain the dive hazards,” Harry answered and then turned to Lee, “Is your team ready Captain?”  As if I have to ask, Harry thought.


“Aye Sir,” Lee turned to leave and tapped Ski on the way out.  Ski left his station and another crewman stepped into his place as Lee and Kowalski made their exit discussing the dive.


A dive at two hundred feet was considered a “deep dive” by recreational divers, but it wasn't unusual for Seaview's divers, though the dive would require a special gas mixture.  Lee would be leading a team of three divers, with Kowalski as his dive partner.  Patterson and Rodriguez rounded out his dive team with Chief Sharkey overseeing operations from Seaview's Missile Room. 


Anytime the special gas mixture was used the dive was considered Deep, whether it was 200 feet or 1,300 feet, but at least at this depth, the atmospheric suit wasn't necessary.  Lee and Ski rounded the corner and headed into the Missile Room where Chief Sharkey had their gear ready.  Both Lee and Kowalski had been prepared for the dive and shed their clothes both wearing dive trunks, and began donning their gear.  Lee's yellow dive suit was purposely bright as the Captain of the boat, making his whereabouts easy to spot.  He was a Master Diver, which meant he held the highest diving qualification badge certified by the Navy.


Lee was just zipping up his dive jacket as Harry entered the room.  “About ready Lee?”


“Aye Sir, just about there,” Lee answered with an easy grin.  Harry knew that he enjoyed the diving and was looking forward to this particular dive as Lee had a fascination for sunken ships and their history. 


“Fine.  Don't forget to retrieve some water samples for me and remember,” he smiled warmly, “we've got an anxious archeologist who can't wait to get out there.”


Lee returned the smile, “Aye Sir, but he'll have to wait until the next dive with Chip.”  Seaview Dive Protocols called for 24 hours rest between Deep Dives, so Seaview's other Master Diver, Chip Morton would supervise the next dive out later in the day.


“Good Dive, Lee,” Harry said offering his hand, as Lee shook it warmly understanding the rest of Harry's unsaid message, Be Careful. 


* * * * *


The dive was going well, even as it was coming to a close.  Lee had sent Patterson and Rodriguez back with the Admiral's water samples as he and Ski finished their dive assessments.  The ship was lying partially on her starboard side.  The almost 40 years of sea water had deteriorated the ship.  Now she was rusty and full of holes, some a result of the battle the rest from the harsh underwater environment.  Still, even with the scars of her battles and what the sea had taken from her, the vessel still bore a proud countenance about her.  


Lee took one last look with great respect.  He never approached these wrecks without understanding that the loss of the ship was never as great as the loss of life that accompanied her.  This vessel, like all the Merchant Marines, had served a very important role in the war.  Exactly what she did was probably lost to history, still Lee saluted as was his custom when he dove wrecks, and then turned and swam back to Seaview with Ski.  As they swam back they noticed the current becoming heavier.  


“Chip, are you reading the change in current?”


“Aye Sir, we're logging it.”


“Alright, we're almost to the hatch.  See you inside.”


“Aye Skipper.” 


Lee continued swimming but heard an odd noise in his ear piece.  It sounded like static and a voice far away, though he couldn't make it out.


“Did you say something else Chip?”


“No Sir, we're waiting inside for your samples.”


Lee shook his head, it sure sounded like someone talking on a bad frequency.


* * * * *


Lee and Ski were greeted by Sharkey's post dive team as they exited the diver's hatch.  Ski was the first one out and stumbled slightly upon stepping over the hatch exit.


“Whoa, easy there Ski.  You alright?”  Sharkey looked him over helping Ski out of his tanks.


“Yeah, sure.  Just tripped there,” Ski answered, his voice confident if not tired sounding.


Lee followed behind as crew hands helped to relieve their Skipper of his dive tanks and weight belt.


“How was it Lee?”


“Great Sir!  The visibility was good with the extra lights.  The inside of the ship is off limits of course, but there's plenty to see up on deck.”  He smiled as he delivered his report.  The dive had been nice and he looked forward to going out again.


“Did you get your water samples Sir?”  Lee asked as he unzipped his dive jacket.


“Sam's already taking a look at them in my lab.”


Lee nodded as he sat on the bench to shed the rest of his dive gear.  A sigh escaped, and he shook his head.  Must be more tired than I thought, he said to himself and finished toweling off.


* * * * *


Lee took a quick shower and was back in the Nose at the conference table discussing the advance dive's findings and the parameters for subsequent dives.  The WWII Merchant Marine Vessel sat framed in Seaview's giant Herculite windows as if demonstrating the center of attention she was at the moment.


“Have you identified the vessel yet Professor?”  Chip asked curiously.


“No, and unless we can get inside the bridge, we probably won't.  I'm afraid the Navy didn't keep detailed records on the Merchant Marine Losses or her sailors during WWII.  All we know is there was a battle here, and she went down with a torpedo.”


Everyone nodded, it was a sad truth.  The Merchant Marines were a vital part of the war effort, but their effort as a civilian supply fleet was not recognized officially as a military one. 


“But if we can get to the Bridge, we may be able to take a picture of her ship's registry plaque,” Sam continued, his excitement bubbly and contagious.  This kind of research was done for the veterans and families of Merchant Marines, and not for recognition or gain.  Lee considered it an honor for Seaview to be part of this mission and had deemed it a personal honor for himself.


Without realizing it he reached over and rubbed an ache in his elbow as he listened to the interesting conversation regarding the Merchant Marines during WWII.  Seaview's CMO, Doctor Will Jamieson hadn't missed Lee's rubbing of his joint.  Jamie filed it away, Lee had dove at 200 feet but returned to Seaview where there was equal pressure, he dove with a diving mixture that wouldn't require decompression as long as they stayed at their present depth.  They would avoid the Hyperbaric Chamber altogether by adding decompression stops for the diver's sake, as Seaview surfaced.*  Still, after a deep dive it was always something to watch.


“When do we get to get out there Captain?”  Professor Westerly asked.


Lee smiled, “Mr. Morton will lead that dive as soon as we're finished here.”  Lee glanced over at Chip, he could tell he was chomping at the bit to get out as well. 


“I do want to make it clear Professor,” Lee continued, “that as Dive Master, Mr. Morton has the final say so over the dive, reporting directly to me.  If he deems any action as unsafe I'll expect you to comply immediately.”


“Of course Captain.  This is thrilling, I'm just happy to be a part of it.”  He smiled widely, not affected by the Captain's stern admonishment.  Lee returned his smile easily, Professor Westerly was easy to like.


“Anything else gentlemen?”  Harry asked, his excitement was palpable and Lee could tell that he too was looking forward to the third dive.  The idea of actually identifying the wreckage and possibly bringing closure to some families fueled them on. 


“Yes Sir.  Have you had a chance to study the log on the current change Ski and I felt swimming in?”


“Not yet, Lee.  I'll get to them along with the water samples later.”  Harry was clearly more interested in the dive, and Lee couldn't blame him.  The vessel out their window wasn't a 17th century sailing ship, but it was fascinating just the same, part of their own history, with its own story to tell.


“Very well,” Lee said with a grin as he faced Chip, “Are you ready Master Diver Morton?”


“Aye Sir,” Chip responded, catching Lee's emphasis on his title as he too held the highest qualification badge held by Navy divers.


* * * * *


Lee watched the ball float up as the hatch was flooded with sea water, a few moments later the pressure in the hatch was equalized with the sea pressure.


“They're out the hatch, Sir.”  Chief Sharkey reported from his console located on the diver's hatch cylinder.


“Very well, Chief.  I'll be back when the dive is over.”  Lee shot a small smile over to the Chief as he supervised the dive and headed to Seaview's nose to watch the dive team's progress.


Lee scanned the stations as he entered the Control Room from the aft hatch.  Everything looked good, just as he expected and he walked forward to join Harry in the nose.  Seaview's windows were displaying quite a scene right now as Chip, Professor Westerly, Riley and Prescott were already reaching the sunken vessel. 


Chip's red dive suit was easy to spot among the other black ones and Lee was pleased for his friend's chance to get out and get “his feet wet.”  Chip handed out assignments to Riley and Prescott as he and Westerly began to ascend to the bridge.


* * * * *


The ship was lying partly on her side and Chip swam up alongside of the rusty bulkhead.  He couldn't help but smile under his mask, his smile faded with his concentration as he swam with Westerly following him.  They rounded the rail and swam over the deck toward the Bridge.  If they caught the breaks the ship's registry plaque would still be mounted there.  They had some tools to clear away the barnacle and sea life, and hopefully they'd be able to identify the wreck.


The door to the bridge still sat on its hinges and was hanging permanently open as the rusty hinges were now barnacled over and held the door in position. 


Chip motioned Westerly to hold off as he advanced toward the open door.  “Let me check this out first Professor,” Chip indicated as Westerly nodded his understanding.


He raised his torch to illuminate the ceiling, the flashlight revealed an acceptable risk as Chip swept the room with the light.


“Looks good Professor,” he said motioning Westerly in to examine the ship's once proud Bridge for clues to her identity.


* * * * *


Ski's watch was over, and although he had enjoyed his dive off boat, he realized that he was feeling pretty run down.  He was tired and achy and opted for a shower before hitting the rack.  It was unfortunate, because if he was coming down with something he wouldn't be able to dive with the Skipper his next time out.


He started shedding his jumpsuit as he stood in front of his locker when Pat entered the crew's quarters.


“Some of us are getting together a game of cards, are you in Ski?” Pat asked comfortably.


Ski turned to face him as Patterson's eyes narrowed.  “What?” Ski said noticing Patterson's concerned look.


“You've got rash Ski.”


It wasn't an idle observation.  Divers looked out for one another, and a rash on the torso was a possible symptom of decompression sickness.  Ski looked down getting his first look at it, Decompression sickness?  No way! he thought.  But then, he couldn't deny the achy joints and fatigue either. 


Pat took charge, “Come on Ski.  Let's get you to sickbay and let Doc tell us what's going on.”


Ski would have argued, but really, he wasn't feeling too hot about now.


* * * * *


“Captain Crane, please report to sickbay.”


Lee lifted his eyes to the com speaker high up on the bulkhead wall.  What could Jamie want now?  Doesn't he know that we have a dive team out?  Lee walked from the window to the conference table where a mic hung on the wall under the video screen.


“This is Crane, Doc.  I'm a little busy up here.  Is it something that can wait?”


“No Sir, your presence is strongly requested.”


Lee turned around as his eyes narrowed and caught Harry's surprised look as well.  Jamie's voice was professional, but tight.  Something must be wrong.


“Very well, Jamie.  I'll be right there.”


“Go ahead Lee.  I'll keep tabs on things here,” Harry offered.


Lee nodded and headed aft, he stepped over the hatch and fought back a groan.  He was feeling pretty run down and realized that he could use some rack time after the divers came in.


Lee entered sickbay and immediately caught sight of Ski being escorted into the decompression chamber.


His eyes narrowed in concern, “What's going on Jamie?”


“Decompression Illness, Skipper.”


“But that's impossible!  We dove at 200 feet, Seaview is sitting at 200 feet.”


“I know, but I've checked his eyes.  There's no doubt about the bubbles I saw.  I've already checked Patterson and Rodriguez, they're fine.  I'd like to check you as well.”


Lee nodded and moved toward the examination gurney.  He didn't understand how it could be, but he wasn't a fool.  No diver messed around with the bends.  Lee lifted himself onto the gurney as his face registered the strain it took his body to comply.  Jamie didn't miss it either, as he raised an eyebrow and stepped forward raising his ophthalmoscope to Lee's eyes to look for nitrogen bubbles.




“Let's take a look at your chest Skipper.”


Lee unbuttoned his shirt and caught Jamie's expression right away. 


“Okay Skipper, both you and Kowalski have Type 1 Decompression Illness.  Let's get you into the Chamber and start a decompression schedule.”


Lee nodded, he didn't understand how it happened, but he knew the implications of the bends couldn't be ignored.  He walked to the wall mic and called the Control Room.


“Crane to Control Room,”


“Control Room Aye,” Bobby O'Brien answered.


“Abort the dive.  Recall all divers and have them report to sickbay immediately.”


“Aye Sir.”


Lee clicked again, “Missile Room, this is Crane.”


Sharkey's Coney Island accent rang clear over the com, “Missile Room, Aye.”


“Chief, the dive is aborted.  Check all tanks from today's dive and report to me in sickbay once the dive is secure.”


“Aye Sir.”


Lee moved to hang up the mic when he heard an obviously confused if not somewhat irritated Admiral Nelson hail him.


“Lee, this Nelson.  What's going on?”


“Admiral, I think you need to come to sickbay.  We'll explain it to you here.”  Lee was sure that Harry didn't care for the vagueness of his reply, but Harry acknowledged just the same.


“Alright, I'll be right there.”


Lee hung up the mic and leaned against the wall a moment, his fatigue taking its toll.  He felt Jamie pull him away from the wall as he talked.


“Okay Skipper, time to enter the chamber.”


Lee didn't argue.  There was no doubt in his mind that he was suffering from the bends, hopefully a mild case, he thought.


* * * * *


“Here it is!”  Professor Westerly exclaimed excitedly.


Chip swam over and barely recognized a rectangle shape of barnacles and sea life wrapped protectively against the metal plaque.  He nodded and reached for his pouch to pull out his tools to liberate the plaque from its “hosts”.


He handed a tool to Westerly as they both started trying to pry off the various sea life hanging on the plaque.  Chip took a look at his dive watch, only fifteen more minutes on this dive.


“We may have to leave it for the next dive Professor.”


Westerly nodded and continued working as their ear pieces received the call from Seaview.


“Attention all divers.  By order of the Captain, abort the dive.  I repeat abort the dive.  Proceed immediately to Seaview.”


“Acknowledged Seaview,” Chip replied in even tones, not letting his voice give way to the controlled concern he had for the aborted dive.  “Okay Team, you heard the order, abandon your samples, let's get back to Seaview.”


Chip started to turn away, but Professor Westerly delayed as he continued to work on the crustaceans that were blocking his view of the ship's registry.


“Professor.  Abandon the dive.  Now!”


Westerly looked up at Chip's insistent eyes and nodded.  They replaced the tools in their pouches on their dive belts and began to swim out of the Bridge.  As they swam over the top of the rail Chip could see Riley and Prescott already entering the Missile Room hatch.  Chip and Westerly continued their swim as a static sound filled their ears.  First it was soft and indiscernible, but then it grew louder and more distinct.


“Sir!  Torpedoes incoming!”   “Hard to Port!”  “She's gonna hit Captain!”  “All hands abandon ship.  Repeat, all hands aban....” 


Chip looked at Westerly who had stopped his swimming to tap at his ear piece. 


“No time for that, we'll figure it out on board!”  Chip urged as he hastened the Professor along.


About that time the current began to change, and Chip felt an instant warming of the water around him.  The current was too much and was getting stronger.


“Seaview this is Morton.  Have the hatch flooded and ready, we're coming in!”  This dive was getting as weird as giant sea spiders and overgrown man o' wars.  Chip sped up his diving and drug Westerly along with him until all of the sudden, the current was too strong and he could no longer see Seaview.  All he could see was bubbles of churning water around him, and then a loud noise like an explosion.  Chip felt a concussion like a shock wave and then blacked out.


* * * * *


Lee was already in the Hyperbaric Chamber when Harry arrived in sickbay, as Jamie intercepted him at the door to explain.


“What's going on Jamie?”


“Admiral, I'm treating both the Captain and Kowalski for Type 1 Decompression Illness.  Its only been three hours since their dive and I don't expect any complications once we get them recompressed.”


“Decompression Illness?”  Harry's unbelief was palpable.


“Yes Sir.  There's no mistake.  They'll be in for the next two hours.”


Harry nodded his understanding and walked toward the observation window, picking up the mic as he caught Lee's attention.  Lee had been pacing the chamber floor until he spotted Harry.




“Admiral, what about the dive team?”


“They're being recalled at this moment.”  Lee nodded, this was wild and he wouldn't be able to rest until Seaview's dive team was on-board and checked out by Jamie.


“I've ordered Sharkey to check all the tanks for today's dive Sir.  The mix should have prevented this, I looked at the tanks myself and didn't see any problems.”


Harry nodded his head, it was a mystery to him as well.  “I don't understand either Lee.  I'll start with the water samples and sea current anomaly you reported and go from there.”


“Aye Sir.  I ordered the dive team to report here when they're back in.  I'd like to talk to Chip personally.”


Harry nodded his understanding, “I'll pass it on to Jamie.  In the meantime Lee, you need to rest.  You know this will zap your energy even once you've been recompressed.”


“Yes Sir,” Lee acknowledged, but they both knew that it wasn't going to happen until Chip and the dive team were back on-board.


“Admiral Nelson, please report to the Control Room,” Lee heard O'Brien's concerned voice over the com and nodded to Harry as he left.  Calling the Admiral to the Control Room wasn't a good sign, Lee thought as his pacing picked up speed.


* * * * *


Harry entered the Control Room where the crew was operating at a level of controlled confusion. 


“Report Mr. O'Brien,” Harry asked calmly, hoping to restore some level of calmness to the crew.


“They're gone Sir.  We got Riley and Prescott aboard, but the Exec and the Professor were still out there, and now they're gone.”  O'Brien was as shaken as Harry had ever seen the young officer.  He wasn't nearly as seasoned as Lee and Chip, but he'd been around a long time aboard Seaview, and Harry knew that it would take a lot to rattle his cage this much.


“And Sir, look out the windows,” Bobby pointed toward Seaview's windows to a vast empty ocean.  Empty because the ship wreck that was once framed by Seaview's windows was no longer in sight.


Harry took several steps toward the window.  He hadn't felt Seaview move.  Harry moved purposely toward the Nav Computer and tore off the reading verifying their position.  They were right where they were supposed to be, so where was the ship wreck?


Harry turned back toward Seaview's young officer, “You say Riley and Prescott made it back on-board?”


“Yes Sir.  They're reporting to sickbay now.”


Harry strode over to sonar, standing behind the lean blond headed crewman.  “You've got no readings for Mr. Morton or Professor Westerly?”


Phillips answered, “No Sir, but something strange is going on.”  He pointed to a blip on the sonar, “This reading just appeared Sir, about the same time we lost the ship wreck.”


The reading Phillips was referring to was a surface vessel nearly directly above where the ship wreck used to lie.  Harry rubbed the back of his neck as he thought about the implications of the surface vessel just appearing at the same time the ship wreck disappeared.  He reached down and turned a few dials pulling up the computer's history of the sonar contacts verifying Crewman Phillip's observations. 


Everything checked out.  So where was the ship wreck, and more importantly...where was Chip and Sam?


* * * * *


Chip woke up lying on the deck, but it didn't take him long to realize that it wasn't Seaview's deck.  He pulled himself up and looked around for Professor Westerly.  Then something shifted, and all of the sudden Chip was treading water again with Seaview just ahead.  He looked around and saw Westerly treading water in place looking just as confused as he was.  He grabbed the Professor and started for Seaview when it happened again.  And instantly, Chip was back aboard the deck of a ship.  Not just any ship, but Chip now recognized that it was the sunken ship.  Only, it wasn't sunken, rusty, or full of barnacles. 


Chip raised his hand to his head, if something didn't start making sense soon, he was sure he would go crazy.


* * * * *


“What was that?”  Harry bellowed as he watched the sunken ship appear suddenly and then disappear again out Seaview's windows.  The phenomenon was preceded with a swirling current.  Current!


“Mr. O'Brien, get me the sea current readings starting with the Captain's dive.  Give me all the readings from then to now.”


“Aye Sir.”


Harry paced the deck in front of Seaview's windows.  It was a long shot, but it was the only clue he had. 




Harry turned to face Chief Sharkey, “Yes Chief,”


“Sir, I've checked all the tanks, including the first dive.  There's nothing wrong with the mixtures Sir.”  Sharkey was just about wringing his hands as Harry nodded.  He was beginning to think that whatever  was going on had nothing to do with oxygen mixes and everything to do with these particular waters they were now stationed in.


“Sickbay to Admiral Nelson,”


Harry reached for the mic, “Nelson here, what do you have Jamie?”


“Riley and Prescott are okay.  No signs of decompression illness.”


“Very well Jamie, how are your patients in the chamber?”


“The Skipper is pacing the floor, he's asking for Chip to report in.”


Harry hung his head for a moment, “Tell him I'll be there when I can.  Nelson out.”


Harry hung the mic back up, as Bobby handed him the report with the changes in the sea currents.  Harry took a cursory glance and then walked to the boat's log calling Sharkey over as he went.  Sharkey had supervised the dive from the Missile Room, Harry was sure that the current changes had to be a clue.


“Chief, let's correlate when the divers came aboard to the current changes.” 


“Aye Sir, I'll get my dive log.”  Sharkey returned a few minutes later and placed his dive log on the conference table next to the current report and the boat's log.


“Show me when Patterson and Rodriguez clocked back in,” Harry said as he looked over the report.


“Here Sir,” Sharkey said pointing at the chart, “and here's when we recycled the hatch for the Skipper and Kowalski.”


Harry nodded, Lee had been out when the first current anomaly was noted.  He had noticed the change and had made a point to ask Harry about it.


“Alright, now show me when Riley and Prescott came aboard.”


Chief looked over his hatch log, and pointed down at the report again, “Here Sir.”


Harry nodded, a definite pattern.  “Now, what about Chip and Sam?”


“Here Sir, Mr. Morton asked me to flood the hatch so they wouldn't have to wait.”


Harry looked down to see the same current anomaly reading that Lee had been caught up in, only considerably stronger.  Harry raised his head toward the empty sea in front of him.  So why was his Captain in the chamber being treated for decompression illness?  Where was the sunken ship, and where was Chip and Sam? He asked himself again.


Harry paced the deck as he thought and then remembered the water samples.  Sam had started working on them as soon as Patterson brought them aboard.


“Come on Chief.  Mr. O'Brien, I'll be in my lab just keep logging the crazy ocean readings and let me know if the ship appears again.”


It was the craziest order Harry had ever given, but he was beginning to get a picture of at least one possible answer. 


* * * * *


“A distortion in the space time continuum?”  Lee said incredulously.  He was nearly at the end of his decompression schedule and he hadn't rested at all, much to Jamie's distress.


“Yes Lee, it sounds crazy but it is possible,” Harry said with conviction.  “The water samples revealed elevated temperatures correlating exactly with the surface waters of this area.  You were caught in that strange current, and for those few minutes you were at sea level.”


Lee paced the deck again as Harry continued, “Chip and Sam were caught in another current, but this time they disappeared along with the ship at the same time that we got the surface reading from sonar.”


“You're saying that sunken ship is up on the surface now?”  Lee was extremely tired, and he was really having a hard time buying this one.  But then again, the alternative would be that Chip was still out in the ocean with his air running out.  He couldn't afford to miss any opportunity of getting Chip back alive, and quite frankly, this wasn't the craziest thing that had happened to him since signing on with Seaview.


“What about Chip and Westerly?”  Lee asked, his concern evident in his eyes even through the thick chamber window.


Harry breathed a sigh of relief at Lee's acceptance of his conclusions.  “Here's the sonar report when the sunken ship blinked back into our time.”  Harry held the report to the window for Lee to see two blips, obviously biologics.  Chip and the Professor.


“They've been caught up in the same space time distortion that took the ship.  They could very well be up on the surface now.”


“Which means, we've got to find them soon, or they'll be suffering significantly from the bends,”  Lee finished.


Harry nodded, as Lee continued.  “What now Sir?”


“I'm going to take FS1 up to look around.  We need to keep Seaview here, in case there's another distortion and we can retrieve our divers.”


“Alright, I'm going with you.”  Lee looked down at his watch, his decompression schedule only had a few more minutes.


“I think Jamie might have something to say about that Lee.”


“Not this time Admiral,” Lee said with determination.  There were times when the CMO overrode Lee, but not today.  Not when Chip was on the surface when he needed to be in the  Hyperbaric Chamber.


As if on cue, Jamie opened the chamber door and began issuing instructions to Lee and Kowalski about the rest they needed.


“As soon as Chip's back, Jamie.  Not before.”  Lee left without Jamie's reply and Harry followed after, shaking his head.


* * * * *


Chip was back on the ship's deck, but for a moment earlier he could see Seaview.  He might have thought he was suffering from raptures of the deep except that Professor Westerly was having the same delusion.


They watched as Merchant Marine sailors were running around the ship as a naval battle ensued.  The ship wasn't a combat ship, it carried vital supplies for the Ally war effort, but the sailors were just that -  sailors.  They had no armament and no way to protect themselves as the submarine periscope was spotted off the starboard bow. 


The sailors seemed to ignore the two men dressed in full diving gear on their deck, and from far away as if they were in a tunnel, Chip heard the same conversation he heard when they were swimming toward Seaview:


“Sir!  Torpedoes incoming!”   “Hard to Port”  “She's gonna hit Captain!”  “All hands abandon ship.  Repeat, all hands aban....” 


The torpedo hit and Chip and Westerly were rocked back and forth on the deck.  Then something blinked again and Chip found himself on the rusty deck of the ship.  Only he wasn't underwater.  He started to rise off the deck, and spotted an island off the port side.  Chip immediately writhed in exquisite pain as he fell back to the deck.  The pain in his legs and joints were excruciating and Chip recognized immediately the effects of the bends.  He looked across at Westerly, he was in the same shape.  A few more seconds and they shifted back to the ship as she sat in the water during WWII before the torpedo blast.


The pain subsided and Chip pulled himself up from the deck trying to make sense of everything.  He wasn't the Admiral, but it seemed to him that the ship was caught in three places, as they rotated from the bottom of the sea, to the sea battle that took her, to an island where the ship was beached in her rusty state.  It was at the beach that Chip felt the effects of the rapid decompression.  He wondered why they were spared the decompression illness at the battle.  He was grateful for the reprieve from the pain, he only hoped that they wouldn't make the shift back to the beach again.


* * * * *


“Status Mr. O'Brien,” Lee's voice was strong and in command as he entered the Control Room.


“The vessel just blinked in and out again Sir.  Sonar also reported two intermittent contacts, one just  top-side, the other about 10 miles to the east, it blinked in and out as well.”


“Where is she now?”  Lee asked.


“Top-side, just overhead,” the sonar man reported.


“Let's go take a look Lee.”


Lee followed Harry down the hatch to FS1.  They needed to verify the sonar reading on top.  If the ship was caught in a space time distortion, maybe she was sitting up there right now.  They broached the surface and circled over the coordinates at a low altitude, for Lee's sake, and saw nothing. 


Lee activated his throat mic, “FS1 to Seaview.”


“Seaview here, go ahead Sir.”


“Mr. O'Brien, does sonar still have the vessel just over the top of you?”  Lee asked suspecting he knew the answer.


“Aye Sir, she's still sitting there.”


Harry turned to look at Lee, “She's there Lee, just not in our time,” Lee's face registered confusion but he was beginning to get the picture.


“She's occupying the space she was in during the battle when she was sunk,” Lee stated.


“Yes, but while she's occupying the same space, she's not occupying the same time.  That's why we can't see her.”


Lee's facial expressions we're evidence of his fatigue as his hope to find Chip began to dwindle.


“But how do we get to them Admiral?”  He asked with passionate concern.


“I don't know, maybe the answer isn't getting to them.  Maybe its waiting for the time that they can come to us.” 


“You mean when the current shifts them back below the sea?”


“Yes.  Come on Lee, we can't do Chip any good up here.  And frankly, we're not doing you any good here either.”  Harry said, recognizing that flying at altitudes above sea level was not good for his recovering captain.


Lee nodded, as Harry dove FS1 to meet back up with Seaview.


* * * * *


Harry and Lee sat back at the conference table as they studied the pattern of the three sea current shifts. 


“If the pattern continues, she'll make another appearance within the hour.”  Harry's confidence was reassuring to Lee, because right now he was running on fumes. 


“But how do we snag them when they shift here?  They seem to be spending more time in the top-side shift.”  Lee's question was valid as was his concern.  There was also this third shift near the island, but the shift never lasted more than a few minutes.


Snag, the word hit Harry like the proverbial light bulb going off over someone's head.  SNAG!


Harry's face lit up in delight, “That's it Lee!  We'll snag them!” 


Lee's face registered the fact that he wasn't quite following Harry, but the Admiral's excitement was  contagious and he allowed a smile to penetrate his concern while Harry explained his plan.


“We've got to snag them from the current without risking more divers,” Harry was working through the problem with a gleam in his eye, “We'll set the net and pull them out of the current before the next shift.”


Lee nodded, it was a simple solution to an extremely complex problem, and it was also the only plan they had. 


“Very well.  Let's rig it.”  Lee's eyes met Harry's as they exchanged their hope that they could indeed bring Chip and Westerly back home.


* * * * *


The scene kept playing itself over and over again:  The last moments of the Merchant Marine vessel.  The sailors' valiant efforts to save their ship, and when that option was taken from them, to save each other.  The history lesson Chip was getting would have been even more appreciated if he had a clue of how they were going to return to their own time. 


Suddenly, the shift began again as Chip and Westerly instantly felt their buoyancy return and slid their mouth pieces back into place.  They looked up to see Seaview once again, just as quickly something fell over them entangling them and then instantly began pulling them forward. 


Westerly started fighting the net in panic as Chip found his arm, “Don't fight it, let them pull us in,” he shouted over the churning sounds of the ocean around them.  Then everything was quiet and Chip realized that they had been pulled from the strange effects of the current.  Chip looked over the top of him to see the robotic arms of FS1.  Seaview maneuvered out of the dangerous waters as Chip and Westerly were pulled carefully away by the flying sub.  Then divers descended from Seaview and soon Chip and Westerly were freed from their net.


* * * * *


Both Chip and Sam Westerly were whisked away to the Hyperbaric Chamber for an extended period of decompression.  Chip had relayed the rapid decompression they had suffered near the island, and Jamie wasn't taking any chances.  Lee and Harry visited through the mic system with Chip as Sam chose to sleep away his experience in the chamber.


“What I don't understand is why we didn't go through rapid decompression on the surface during the battle,” not that Chip wasn't grateful, he just didn't understand. 


“We can never know for sure,” Harry explained, “but I'd venture to guess that though you shared the same space with the ship in battle, the fact that you weren't from the same time shielded you.  You did say that the sailors never seemed to recognize your presence?”


Chip nodded, but it was apparent that he needed his sleep as well.  “You rest up Chip, we'll see you in another six hours.”  Harry's gentle order to sleep was welcomed by Chip about now.


“I'll come by later Chip,” Lee smiled, relieved that his best friend was going to be alright.


* * * * *


Harry and Lee headed back to the Control Room, but Lee was deep in thought.  “Admiral, I understand seeing the vessel where she sank, and the point where the battle was fought, but what I don't understand is why the ship appeared rusty and beached ten miles from here.”


Harry shook his head, “I don't know either Lee.  The question is what do we do about the fact that the ship is shifting through time to the beach.  It would be a disaster if someone decides to explore her and gets caught in the shift.”


Lee nodded, Chip had survived each shift in scuba gear.  Someone exploring from the shore wouldn't have a chance of surviving the shift to 200 feet below the surface. 


“Do you think she's there?  I mean, when she cycles to the island, is she in our time?”  Lee asked.  It was purely hypothetical, he realized that, but Harry was an incredible thinker and Lee respected even his guesses in the matter.


“I think she is, Lee.  I think that's why Chip felt the effects of decompression illness when he shifted there,” Harry reasoned out, as he and Lee stopped in the corridor considering the implications.


“Lee, I think we need to destroy the ship when she appears on the beach.”


“Is that possible Admiral?” Lee asked incredulously.


“I think that when she's beached there she exists at both the present time and space, for what purpose I don't know.  But if she is truly taking up both time and space, then yes, I think she can be destroyed.”


Lee nodded, “Alright, I'll set the charges.  And I go alone.”


Harry started to object as Lee pressed onward, “I'll go in scuba gear, and we'll keep Seaview stationed near the distortion area.  If I get caught in it, you can snag me back.”


Harry was beginning to wish that he hadn't thought of the idea in the first place.  But unless he could think of any other way, this would have to do.


* * * * *


Harry stood on the beach giving Lee last minute instructions, as the once tall and proud vessel sat beached behind them, framed by the beautiful hues of orange and pink from the setting sun.   Lee nodded his understanding as he zipped his dive jacket and prepared to don his dive tanks.  He had the charges ready, and in her weakened rusty condition it was expected that the ship would be completely destroyed, and her remains washed to sea.  They didn't know if it would change the space time continuum's cycle to this location, but at least no unsuspecting adventurer could get caught up in its deadly shifts.


Lee pulled his dive cap over his head and gave an “I'll see you later” smile, as Harry extended his hand.


“Be careful Lee.”


“I will, Sir.” 


Lee walked to the water, when he was deep enough he put on his flippers and closed the distance to the ship in a full swim.  He laid the charges not knowing if the great ship would disappear taking him with it, but she stayed solidly in the present time giving Lee the time he needed to lay all the charges.  Then he swam back to shore as Harry greeted him with a smile. 


“Let's get behind the rocks and blow her before she shifts again,” Harry suggested as Lee pulled off his fins and followed behind.


They hunkered down, and Harry pulled out his remote detonator and turned it on with one last look at Lee, then he pressed the button and ducked.  The mighty ship blew up in waves of explosions as each charge detonated its own explosive.  When the debris stopped raining down they raised their heads to view exactly what Harry had surmised would happen.  The old rusty ship had nearly disintegrated, what was left would be lost to the sea on the next tide.


“You know, we never did identify her Sir,”  Lee said sadly, “but it was almost like she was waiting for us to lay the charges.  She stayed in this shift longer than I expected her to.”


Harry nodded in agreement, “Maybe time was correcting itself Lee.  I don't know, I'm not sure we'll ever know.”


Lee pulled off his tanks and walked back to where they would rendezvous with the flying sub.  He shook his head, and to think this had all started with one deep dive.  He couldn't help the smile that spread on his face, and it grew wider as he realized that Chip was alright.  One thing was for sure, no one could ever say that life aboard Seaview was boring!




The End


Deep Dive






* Author's Note:  Although I did some limited researched about deep dives, the reader can learn nothing from my conclusions, and I'm quite sure that divers and submariners everywhere are holding their stomachs in wild laughter.  But it did make for some good ol' science fiction fun!  ; )


P.S. – The Merchant Marines during WWII served a valuable role in resupplying the war effort.  The topic is worth a quick Google...freedom is never free!



























Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and her main characters belong to Irwin Allen