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by Micheal Menduno
Header Image: Kirill Egorov
Richard Lundgren is arguably one of the most prolific shipwreck explorers of our time. The 49-year old, ex-commercial diver, photographer & filmmaker, GUE instructor trainer, and expedition leader has discovered more than 120 shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea since the 1990s. He accomplished all this while fielding photographic assignments from the likes of National Geographic, the BBC, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and others.
The Crowning Jewel? In May 2011, with his team from Ocean Discovery. Lundgren found Sweden’s most famous shipwreck—Mars the Magnificent—King Erik XIV’s warship, which had been lost in battle and sank in 1564 in the Southeast Baltic Sea. In finding The Mars, he fulfilled a vow that he made as a precocious eight-year old boy–one day he would “find the ship” after visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.
Most of Lundgren’s time over the last eight years has been occupied with documenting and studying the wreck in cooperation with a number of government, academic, and scientific organizations. Their work included pioneering the use of photogrammetry and 3D modeling, which not only helps scientists, but also informs the public about the find.
We caught up with Lundgren as he and his veteran team of “Martians” were planning to further explore the wreck in hopes of answering the question: What was life like on Mars? Here’s what our favorite Martian had to say about the status of the project.
InDepth: How has the Mars documentary been received?
Lundgren: It’s had great success. It’s been shown in over 30 countries, and it’s showing on the Smithsonian channel in the U.S. It’s also available online in many languages, though its not on Netflix.
I know that your photomosaic treatment of the wreck also received broad coverage.
The photomosaic was on 64 magazine covers and the 3D model adds to this success.
OMG! That must be some sort of record. Weren’t you working on a 3D model of the wreck as well?
Yes, we received a grant from National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program to build a model which is now complete. One of the most advanced 3D model of a shipwreck ever. It was created from 30,000 images and is accurate to less than centimeters. In full resolution, you need a fantastic computer to see it all. We’re creating an entire website for it. We’ve also printed a scale model that is 1:25, 2 x 1.6 x 08 m, which is in the Västerviks Museum in Västervik, Sweden.
One of the most advanced 3D model of a shipwreck ever. It was created from 30,000 images and is accurate to less than centimeters.
I understand it was quite challenging to create.
We wanted to make a 3D model but didn’t want to make it using 2D images. We wanted to make scientifically correct. People told us that it was impossible to do. Of course, they said that about finding Mars as well. But that made it even more motivating for us.
How long did it take you?
It took us five years to take all the pictures and create the model. That part of the project was self-funded, so it took a lot of time. Now we have the problem that other outlets and channels are interested in the model. How can you price such a thing? How many trimix dives did it take to get 20-30k images? It’s almost funny now. They can bid for it, but what they are willing to pay only covers a few days of diving.
But the coolest thing is this. The Mars will be one of Facebook’s new Oculus Quest VR platform. That’s really going to be something!
Oculus Quest? That’s fantastic! How did that come about?
Well Mars is an incredible discovery, and we have focused on helping the public actually visualize the shipwreck. That has contributed to the huge interest. As a result, we got a call from the right person at Facebook who said that they wanted to recreate it as a virtual reality experience.
When is the virtual dive on the Mars scheduled to launch?
We’re hoping some time this summer. We’re currently testing an alpha unit.
Mars here we come! How many actual dives have you and you team conducted on the shipwreck so far?
On average we have had 12-14 divers diving the wreck for two weeks for seven years now. On average one diver performs 8 dives during these two weeks. Since 2011, we have only skipped one year. We did approximately 600 dives, all, I should note, without a single incident.
Wow. That’s a great safety record! Congratulations! So what are your next steps for Mars?
One of the most important things right now is the ongoing scientific project to understand life aboard Mars. That’s our main focus this summer. To do that we hope to find more bodies, and armour, and things like boarding nets. It’s a forensic study. We find some gruesome stuff. There should be 600+ bodies from Mars and 2-300 from the enemy ship as they were boarding the ship as it blew up. We have only found a few of them. Also, we haven’t figured out why the bodies aren’t spread out evenly throughout the shipwreck.
One of the most important things right now is the ongoing scientific project to understand life aboard Mars. That’s our main focus this summer. To do that we hope to find more bodies, and armour, and things like boarding nets. It’s a forensic study.
One speculation is that the boat surrendered before it blew up and sailors were gathered in one area. We’re hoping to find clues. I mean aliens haven’t taken them! We should find bones and skeletons, but we haven’t seen them yet. We have seen bone parts, but not skeletons. It’s odd because their bodies were in armour, and there was no one to take the bodies away. There is a very magical bottom current. They should be there.
Fascinating! Wasn’t there another wreck involved as well?
Yes, we are also trying to find the Danish warship the Long Barque. Der Alte Bark in German, which Mars sank. We have a strong candidate that we found two years ago. It’s the right age but the wreck has not yet been confirmed. To my way of thinking, it’s one of the best-preserved shipwrecks I have ever seen. It sits upright on the bottom with two masts. We discovered the wreck on the northern tip of the Island of Oland. That’s part of our project this summer.
We plan to build a 3D model of the wreck using ROVs. We’ll scan the bottom and the wreck. We need something to identify her, like the inscriptions on the cannons on Mars. We’re still looking, but it’s pretty hard. The wreck has been underwater for five centuries. There were no ship bells back then with the ship’s name inscribed on them.
Who do you have working with you this summer?
They’re all Mars veterans. We call them Martians! They are all GUE divers. All are very experienced. We’re working with the Swedish Defense College, and MARIS is the scientific leader. We also have Professor Jon Adams on the team from the University of Southampton, who worked on the Mary Rose shipwreck. We’ll have graduate students and five to ten scientists present. It’s a cool interaction for the divers.
What is a typical dive profile?
The depth is 250 ft/76m on average. The water temperature is close to 2 C/36F. It’s a little warmer above 100 ft/30 m, like 10-15 C/50-59F, but that’s still fairly cold. We’re running 40-50 minute bottom times and then we’re “in the freezer” for 120-180 minutes. We investigated using a diving bell for decompression, but it was too complicated. We’re using full body electric heating and electric gloves from Santi. They’re super good. We also only do one dive a day. We leave early and we’re back by 2:00 pm. By 4-5 pm we hand over all the data.
I think it was explorer and engineer Dr. Bill Stone who said, “the difference between exploration and adventure is data.”
We’ve got the data brother!
2019 Mars Team i.e. Martians: Johan Rönnby, Ingvar Sjöblom, Ingemar Lundgren, Kirill Egorov, Jesper Kjøller, Marco Al, Kees Beemster Leverenz, John Kendall ,Rachael Kendall, Oleksiy Sverdlov, Marcus New, Su Eun Kim, Kyungsoo Kim, Ellen Ingers, Joachim Ande,r Joakim Holmlund, Matilda Fredriksson, Rolf Warming, and Veronica Palm
The Man From Mars, X-Ray Magazine, FEB 2014
Explore a 16th Century Underwater Battlefield, National Geographic Society
Michael Menduno is InDepth’s executive editor and, an award-winning reporter and technologist who has written about diving and diving technology for 30 years. He coined the term “technical diving.” His magazine “aquaCORPS: The Journal for Technical Diving”(1990-1996), helped usher tech diving into mainstream sports diving. He also produced the first Tek, EUROTek, and ASIATek conferences, and organized Rebreather Forums 1.0 and 2.0. Michael received the OZTEKMedia Excellence Award in 2011, the EUROTek Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and the TEKDive USA Media Award in 2018.
Interview with GUE about NextGen Scholarship
InDepth recently caught up with Ricki Orford, one of the organizers behind the new GUE scholarship, to see how the response to the new NextGen scholarship was.
InDepth recently caught up with Ricki Orford, part of the team organizing the new GUE scholarship, to see how the response to the new NextGen scholarship was.
So it’s been a few weeks since the GUE scholarship applications closed. How was the response?
The response was overwhelming. We weren’t sure, given the tight timeline and the fact that it was brand new, that word would get around quickly enough, and that we would have this many applicants. During the planning stage, we even put in a contingency to extend the deadline in case we got fewer than 10 applicants. We ended up with almost 160 applicants from all over the world, and the quality of the applicants and the applications have been extremely high. We are incredibly happy with the response.
Are you only shortlisting GUE members?
No. In fact, well over half of the applicants are not GUE members and have never had GUE training before, and members have no advantage in the application process over non-members. We hope that will change in the future, and that many of the applicants, as they learn more, will consider joining GUE.
What are you looking for in a successful candidate?
We are looking for someone who wants to do more than just take the training to become a strong diver for personal development. We are looking for a candidate who either has demonstrated progress towards, or who can clearly articulate, a vision they have for making a real difference in either education, conservation, or exploration.
Were any applications incomplete, and if so what happens to them?
There are several applications that were incomplete. Either they were not finalized by the applicant or they are missing an element. Unfortunately, these applications will not be considered by GUE this time round, but the applicants will be welcome to try again next year.
What is the process for shortlisting the finalists?
The NextGen committee and the GUE BOD are reviewing every application, and each submission is being scored. Only complete applications by eligible divers are considered. When reviewed, the applicant’s essay, references, and video are reviewed and scored separately. Once scored, the top 10 applicants will be presented to the GUE Board of Directors with a recommendation for the winner. The Board of Directors will make the final decision on who the recipient will be. We hope to announce the winner within the next 6 – 8 weeks.
Is there really only one scholarship recipient?
We were fortunate enough to get support from GUE, Halcyon, Divers Alert Network (DAN), and Gareth Lock’s, The Human Diver, to help fund the non-instructional components of this first scholarship. To complement this, the response from GUE instructors offering to train the scholar at no charge was overwhelming.
We would love to offer more than one scholarship, so if anyone is reading this and wishes to get involved in sponsoring a scholar (either as an individual or as a company), please do reach out to Kady Smith at email@example.com. Meanwhile, given the incredible response from such committed and dedicated divers, GUE’s leadership team is reviewing options to find other ways to engage the most impressive applicants with GUE.
How will the recipient be announced?
When a decision has been made, the successful candidate will be contacted. Then once we have confirmed eligibility and determined that the applicant is still available to undertake the scholarship, we will contact each unsuccessful applicant by email. Shortly after that, we will announce the NextGen Scholar on social media.
Anything else you would like to say to applicants waiting to hear the results?
Thank you for your patience, your dedication, and your time in putting together some truly impressive applications. Picking a winner from so many excellent and worthy applicants will be truly challenging. Good luck to all of you!
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