Often times, the big historical discoveries are ones that happen by
accident. In the fall of 1991 two charter boat captains exchange details about an object
off the New Jersey coastline. One of the charter captains, Bill Nagle, was something of
a legend in the local diving community. He was an expert at deep water, below 200 feet,
dives and had made some of the best finds on the East Coast. No one had gone down to
this object before, but Nagle was sure it was a ship of some sort.
pulled together a crew of deep divers to explore what he sensed was a wreck. Nagle’s
long time friend and dive partner, John Chatterton, was the first man down that day. The
other divers were getting antsy about making a dive of more than 230 feet in less than
perfect conditions, but when Chatterton scribbled one word on his underwater black board
all their fears went away. That one word was simply “SUB.” The divers on the boat that
day swore themselves to secrecy and made a pact that only they would dive the sub until
they discovered which boat it was.
Naturally, this pact didn’t last more
than a few days before it was broken. In the six years it took to uncover the origins of
the submarine, the crew added and dropped faces several times. More than one man died
diving to the wreck.
The book is more than just a chronicle of dives and
divers. It tells the story of how Chatterton, Nagle, and later Richie Kohler became
obsessed with the men on the unknown wreck. The book’s author, Robert Kurson, does a
masterful job of explaining the process of deep water diving and the dangers it holds.
He also lets you see the minds of the men that not only dove on the sub but some of the
men that sailed on it.
This was a discovery that had to be researched on
two different continents. It took the best submarine historians, a ton of luck, and
re-writing history to finally know exactly which sub sank with its full crew aboard.
This is a great book for anyone interested in the history of the sea,
scuba diving, submarines, or World War II.