Written by : Derek M. F. Cockbill

On the 21st March, 1917, the S.S. Maine, a 3600 ton cargo vessel sailed for London's East India dock bound for Philadelphia with a crew of 43 under her master Capt. W. Johnston, carrying a cargo consisting mainly of horsehair, goatskins and seeds.

At 8 a.m. On the 23rd March, a damp and misty morning she was steaming at about ten knots on a zigzag course approximately thirteen miles South of Berry head. As was usual in wartime lookouts were posted on the fo'c'sle and up with the master and 1st officer keeping a sharp lookout from the bridge when, without warning the ship was hit by a torpedo on the port side in number 2 hold which blew off number 2 and 3 hatches, smashed the port gig and partially wrecked the bridge.

Part I, the discovery....

On the 21st March, 1917, the S.S. Maine, a 3600 ton cargo vessel sailed for London's East India dock bound for Philadelphia with a crew of 43 under her master Capt. W. Johnston, carrying a cargo consisting mainly of horsehair, goatskins and seeds.

At 8 a.m. On the 23rd March, a damp and misty morning she was steaming at about ten knots on a zigzag course approximately thirteen miles South of Berry head. As was usual in wartime lookouts were posted on the fo'c'sle and up with the master and 1st officer keeping a sharp lookout from the bridge when, without warning the ship was hit by a torpedo on the port side in number 2 hold which blew off number 2 and 3 hatches, smashed the port gig and partially wrecked the bridge.

A Cautionary Tale, by Jack MacLoughlin

Several years ago, I was diving at Vobster and noticed pins and needles in my hands afterwards which lasted for a number of days. I put this down to diving in cold water with 3mm gloves and with newly replaced and therefore tight wrist seals. However, after one of my buddies mentioned someone he knew getting a bend under similar circumstances, I phoned the Royal Navy Doctor for advice. Given the dives were mostly shallower than 10m, I was told a bend was unlikely and they would call back in a few days for a update. I was diving again the following weekend and everything was back to normal.

One year later, I was diving the Salsette in Lyme Bay. 34 minutes bottom time at an average of 42m, max 45m. The ascent went to plan until we got to 9m. I was faffing around with equipment and therefore late realising the team were moving up to 6m which seemed a little early. By the time I realised we had skipped a couple minutes we were nearly at 6m. However it didn’t seem worth dragging the team back to 9m for the sake of 1-2 minutes. As we approached 6m I noticed tingling in my hands which was a slight concern. Once we settled down at 6m the sensation went away and everything seemed fine. After surfacing I felt great – most likely due to the late afternoon ropes off and continued as normal.

Approximately 3 hours after surfacing from the dive on the journey home, I noticed pins and needles ranging from the tips of my fingers to my elbows on both sides. At the time I was trying to eat a sandwich while driving the car (not recommended!) so it seemed possible I was just tense trying to hold too many things at once. I also had occasional aches in my right hand where I was holding the steering wheel. It’s worth mentioning in the past I have suffered repetitive strain in my wrists and fingers, particularly when I was at university spending each day sat at a computer, so I didn’t think too much of it.

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