Project Mars 2012

Project Mars 2012

Mars was, in the 16th century, the largest war vessel in the world. He was said to be undestructible and unsinkable. It was a thorn in the side of the king of Denmark, who really wanted to take it (rather than sink it). He hunted it many times. Mars had 107 cannons, and 2 largest (approximately 4.2 metre long with a broad range) preventing other vessels to come closer and start a fight. In May 1563 after 2 days of pursuit and battles, an explosion occurred on Mars, which caused the ship to sink instantly, this supposedly enraged the king of Denmark, and the vessel disappeared for 450 years.

Richard Lundgren, head of Ocean Discovery and many other Swedish divers tried to locate it over the last 20 years. It was one of the last “great” mysteries of the Baltic Sea. Richard succeeded in August 2011. The finding was so important and valuable for Sweden that a global Mars stock-taking and protection project was established.

It included 2 most active Swedish diving groups:

Ocean Discovery

Deep Sea Production

GUE and

Maris Group – group of marine archaeologists

In the last days, the first stage of project Mars 2012-2013 took place, consisting in creating a draft of archaeological position and a map of the wreck.

The best divers in the world, Carl Douglas, Jonas Dahm, Liam Allen, Richard and Ingmar Lundgren, Jarrod Jablonski, Fredrik Skogh and 10 other excellent Swedish divers were invited – I also had an opportunity to be a member of this “Dream Team”.

I must admit that never before had I an occasion to participate in such a great and international project. Everything was perfectly organized and we had a vast number of equipment and measures. Suffice it to say that for video images, we used 7 HMI 200 Watt lights, and the cost of one light of such kind was about 15-20 thousand PLN.

The question is – what was I doing there. Well, a year ago during the “driven by the wind” expedition, we examined 44 Swedish cannons on the Baltic Sea, then I managed to make a mosaic of 64 pictures and build a general view of the position.

Here is how it looked like a year ago


This picture was given to Swedish archaeologists who asked Richard whether he could do something similar on Mars. He immediately called me, gave me 24 hours to pack my things and I was the last one to join the group.

 I managed do take a few pictures and make 70% of the wreck mosaic, which is currently laboriously put together.

Unfortunately, I got a permission for publication of only 3 worst pictures I took underwater, the rest is reserved for the Album, which is supposed to be created at the end of the project.

Below, there is one of them


and here is the Dream Team during the additional trip 😉


I came to Olandie, a day before the official launching of the Project. As a result, I could meet the crew of 3 individuals who participated in the journey and make the first dive – a kind of reconnaissance.

We had extensive facilities, as the main unit, the ASKHOLMEN research vessel was used, then the well-known Princes Alice, the luxury motor yacht reconstructed into a research ship, looking almost like Ballard’s research ship, equipped with ROV, a side sonar, 4 screens on which we could keep an eye on what was happening under water. And apart from that, it was simply a convenient yacht with bedrooms and bathrooms where we had a great time. 


I can’t remember the name of the third unit, but we used is as a base and a mess-room. I slept in the trailer parked at the quay, so practically throughout the whole stay, I didn’t get away from the port.


The whole project was perfectly prepared. Before arrival I got the whole possible documentation of positions, the plan of the stay, the goals and tasks to perform and I had to filled in loads of documents just in case. Rescue procedures and the like were determined.

The atmosphere was perfect, Richard is a guy that can get on well with everyone and never makes enemies. With his “normality”, he encourages everybody to work, as a result of which everyone was maximally involved in work.

The crew comprised 17 divers and 10 people from land support who also knew how to dive, which perfectly facilitated communication.

All people from the crew had spent years in the sea and were specialists in their fields.

The crew of divers was divided into the Swedish group, that is divers who every day dived in wrecks professionally and were excellent, as well as well-known divers of GUE. Both groups mingled with each other with time and we simply worked together.

Some of these people I had already known from previous dives, but the most interesting event was a personal meeting with a great underwater photographer whose pictures I looked at for hours, and whose work is my inspiration. The book entitled “Shipwreck of the Baltic sea”, in which his pictures are published made such a strong impression, not only on me. This man is Jonas Dahm from Sweden, a modest guy, who does not want to publish his photos, and with whom I could talk about photography for two days. 


Apart from Richard Lundgren, the driving force of the whole project was Carl Douglas, the owner the whole fleet of research ships and, at the same time, a few other Companies. A one-man band who tried to take care of everything, conducted briefing, defined the plans. And apart from that, being an excellent diver, he filmed or lighted the shipwreck. 


 On the first day, I dived with Swedes who were completing the last preparation of the position over the wreck, placed the anchorage, a deco bar etc.


I came down with Juke, a great local, with whom I established an immediate rapport. I took my camera, just in case. Although I was to start taking pictures from the following day.

For various reasons, it later turned out that these were practically the only pictures of the “the general view on Mars”, since I devoted the whole remaining time to taking sequential pictures for the mosaic.

Mars-122-11 mars-5-1

The wreck was incredibly impressive, a lot of artifacts lay there, and the cannons were practically everywhere, unfortunately as a result of explosion, it was heavily damaged and when sinking, it fell to the right side and broke completely. More or less 70% of the left board is preserved in a perfect condition and lies in parallel to the bottom, the rest is a big rubble of planks and equipment, everything is huge, which proves the size of the Vessel. 



In the evening after supper we sat in the provisional film studio where, on a large screen, we watched all video and picture materials from a given day.

This was a unique test of what we had done, but at the same time, we learned about the wreck, watching the film frame after frame – we always spotted something new. Archeologists immediately explained to us what it was and sometimes asked for accurate filming next time.


On the next day, the top divers of GUE came, and the proper project began. The american atmosphere of awesomeness was felt 😉 Everything was great, and there was no place for fatigue, headache or bad mood. Jarrod greeted us every morning with the words – Hey guys, what an excellent day, cannot be better….etc. He inspired us immediately, and actually, until the end of the project everything had to be top-notch – simply, it could not be different : D

Each day was similar, we got up early in the morning, sometimes, at 4: 30 am (to make it before the storm). We swam to the positions, did our job and went back to the port. If weather permitted on the way back, our boat performed research of new positions.

We were instructed on 4 positions of other wrecks. You can imagine that 3 of them were new, interesting wrecks, then we released the ROV and for more than hour, we watched a new shipwreck without the nets, thanks to which we could direct the video camera literally everywhere.

On the third day of the project Richard found a coin hammered in the board of the wreck, just like a shrapnel from a grenade. This definitely increased the importance of the whole event. We got a permission to take the coins out. And what is most interesting, the king of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf, announced his visit.

He actually came on the next day and, accompanied by the king , we set off to the shipwreck.


ROV was lowered to the wreck, and the king with each minute grew more and more interested.

By the way, he is also a diver and some time ago he dived at the KRONAN wreck at the depth of 30 m. For us, his interest meant that a special Grant might be launched and Mars examination could find the government funding.

During the next return to the port, we sent a sonar over an unknown position.

On the screen, we saw a beautiful 33-metre metal shipwrec who stuck out 10 m above the ground bottom. Swedes did not seem interested in the position. I, on the other hand, nagged them to dive there in free time.

On the next day, the weather was far from perfect, so we got up again at 4: 30 a.m. At 11:00 am, the job was done. I persuaded the boat crew (who were also divers) to use the RIB for this metal shipwreck.

The weather was actually terrible, so we suited up already in the port. On our way to the new shipwreck, I experienced something, for which you have to pay a lot in Sopot. We happily jumped the RIB on the waves. The wreck was a beautiful old Cargo vessel probably from 1940-50 filled with coal up to its boards, outside there were remnants of the steering wheel and the compass. Next to the wheel, there was a narrow gangway down.

I agreed with my partners that I would go inside and they would stick around.

In the beginning, there was a narrow corridor and at the end, a kitchen and a small storage room with a beautiful bull-eye. 


 When leaving the kitchen I tried to locate the mess, and on the way back, I found it on the left side. I swam inside and I tried to set the camera. Suddenly, I felt that something was wrong. I looked under me, and I saw a big, dead seal lying right next to me. I stared at it for a while, wondering how it had got there – probably out of curiosity, or when chasing a fish. While I was standing there and wondering, visibility in the mess got worse. I wanted to go further inside, but a perspective of returning “groping” in the presence of this poor animal discouraged me a bit. In the room, there as a terrible mess. It often happens on wrecks, but here, It was visible that the seal tried to get out, destroying everything around it. By the way, how long can such a seal endure without breathing??


I took a few “documentary” pictures and I came back onboard.

My partners waited there, I shot a few photos and without much deco, we went home. 


On the following day we were invited to the Aquapark that was established in the winter in the local town. For Swedes discovery of Mars was such an event that they decided to use the popularity of the wreck and an entertainment park was created. The main attraction of the Park is a pirate ship with showers and a swimming pool, I don’t need to mention that it did not look like what he we saw under water 😉


The last day but one of the project was intended for making a wide film shot of the entire Mars.

We spent the whole evening discussing how to show the whole shipwreck most accurately, everything was shown on the board. The divers got their numbers and the tasks were thoroughly agreed. 8 people were supposed to go to the water. Seven people for additional lighting with HMI 200 Watt lights and Richard as the film maker. Everybody was very excited and committed. Our photo team was limited to 2 people, namely me and Bjorn from Norway as my security.

We had to take care of the last 30% of the wreck. So I hoped that on that day I could complete the pictures for the mosaic. We agreed with Bjorn that the final bottom time is 30 min and I asked him to hang over the central place of the wreck and serve me as the “bearing compass”.

In the beginning, everything was going according to the plan, I swam over the wreck in one direction, every 1 meter taking a picture, when I reached the end, I turned by 180 deg., I moved 3 m to the side and again swam over the wreck shooting photographs. I still had 3 such “runs” to make.

During the last run but one, I passed my partner and I swam towards the bow – on the screen of the camera I saw new images each time, at some point, I spotted a new small cannon at the bottom, then a large block, I was so focused on work and discovering new findings that it did not realize how far I went in the wreck, the new “discoveries” on the clean bottom were mesmerizing.

I noticed that I swam too far, traditionally turned by 180 deg, moved 3 m to the side, raised m head, but there was nothing, no wreck, no partner, only black. OK -I thought – the shipwreck must be slightly to the left I have the compass, I’ll find it in a minute.

I set the camera and I moved forward, taking photographs, on the screen I saw only empty bottom, I still hoped that I would reach the shipwreck soon. After the tenth photo I knew it was a bummer.

I stared ahead and I could not understand where the wreck was – after all, it should be perfectly before me. I looked at the compass, everything was OK, already without the camera I swam further, looking for anything on the clean bottom. The computer showed the 28th minute, in 2 minutes the agreed bottom time was to end.

I give me 2 minutes for searching, and then… After 2 minutes I realized that I was screwed! I understood that I had to start coming out from the depth 73 m at two-hour delay deco. This was not extremely difficult, but I simply felt stupid.

I’m supposed to be doing some great project, with great plans, and I just get lost under water, create a stress situation and launch the whole rescue procedure. We had agreed that if a diver releases a beacon, regardless of a situation, along his or her cord, a thick rope should be sent with a weight and 3 cylinders – bottom gas for 50 m, Nitrox 50 for 21 and oxygen for 6. All right, this would probably happen to me, but for the time being, I checked the gas, I still had 90 atm. In the right pocket I had a beacon and a 40 meter spool, in the left pocket – a spool with 20 m of the cord, I should do it. I had never done this, so I had to practice.

I dismantled the camera and took the beacon out, started to blow slightly – but with no effects, the valve seemed to had been stuck, or maybe I wasn’t strong enough. After the third attempt I saw my hands tremble – damn, that’s not good. At the fourth time, I did my best, myeyes almost popped out and the becon, with a little squeak, began to be filled. I dischared air from the suit and like on a good PADI course, I “settled” on the bottom not to be taken up.

When sending the becon, I had the impression that I was actually giving a signal from Mars to the Earth, it was 73 metres and yet I felt so far away. I wanted to give a signal like “hey guys, I’m here, I’m ok”, but, I knew that my beacon on the surface would rather make them scream – What the fuck!!

My cord did not not unwind as quickly as I had expected, I had plenty of time to attach the second one and keep unwinding. All right,40 + 20 is not 73, so after a moment, I ran out of spools, I looked around the hostile bottom for the last time and went away.

From my experience, I knew that 10 m over the bottom the water gets cleares, I hoped to see the wreck then.

At the 60th meter, I put out the torch and started to turn round, already after 2 seconds I spotted the shipwreck and the rope with lights, and Bjorn on the rope. He was waving the torch to the right and the left, looking down.

I moved as fast as I coultd towards rope, I knew that the whole ” rescue equipment” would fall down on me soon, so I tried to reach the rope before him.

I was breathing heavily like a steam engine and the rope was still far away, this was was the first dive when I had not taken the scooter with me, it might really come in handy then. I grabbed the rope exhausted, I looked at the manometer -30 atm, so that was not the end of my trouble. Within several minutes of swimming, I “swallowed” 50 atm. I moved up, after a moment I caught Bjorn, his eyes filling the whole mask and showing a lot of concern.

I showed to him that it was OK and I was thinking about asking hom for gas. He still had 160 atm, just in case… I practically stopped breathing and shortening deepstops to a minimum, I reached 21 m. As I changed the gas, my electronic manometer showed 18 atm, I thought I shouldn’t brag about it.

I had my cord with a beacon attached to me all the time. After a moment, I felt jerking – so probably the whole rescue set had gone down. Soon after that, also the safety diver went down with the board with a question mark on it.

I wrote”all OK” on it. He looked at me for a moment, probably wondering whether the gases had not messed with my brain, he took the rope from stages and left for for 1.5 h in the water. I had all the time in the world to think on what had happened and why I had lost the shipwreck. I also wondered how my “action” would be seen by the organizers.

After going up to the pontoon, we showed that it everything was OK and we had no time to explain what had happened. They took care of their work, and we took care of ours. In the port I approached Richard and Carl and I wanted to talk.

They treated the whole matter really professionally, we sat at the map of the wreck and, minute by minute, analysed what had happened. At the end, they concluded that I had definitely had insufficient support given such a difficult work and they asked me whether I wanted to finish work on the next day and what I needed to do is more safely. I felt a bit betted, around the evening we sat all together and, minute by minute, we agreed on the action plan for the next day.

Unfortunately, the next day turned out to be the most windy day of the project and at 12: 00 Richard officially finished the project. I know right now that there will be part 2.  Below, there are a few random photos from the trip



The second part of project Mars ’12 was not as spectacular as the first one. We met again after a month to finish what we failed to finish in July.

In the beginning, I got a historical picture with the King that we had taken a month before


This time, there were only 9 divers and each of them had to do everything. The Deep Sea Production group came in a beautiful RIB, which was 16 meters long.

This is a true dream of divers, 4 comfortable places to sleep, 3 Volvo engines, max. speed of 43 knt.


Our group, that is Richard and Ingmar Lundgren, Liam Alien, Jarrod Jablonski and me, had the old OTTO boat, which, instead of being the Boat for Wrecks, looked more like a wreck of a boat. The engine was efficient, but the rest was bound with string and grey tape


 but thanks to that, it was fun and we could demonstrate skills in all possible fields when repairing the boat.

For me, the beginning of the trip was quite stressful, because the primary focus of the meeting was finishing my Mosaic.

This was quite frustrating when such a strong group worked only “for me”.

I found that more stressful than diving. On the first day, I asked the guys to place directional ropes on the rope so that we could take sequential pictures easier


Since the crew for this job was excellent, they worked very quickly and already at the first divers the whole wreck was railed with parallel cords.

Later, the to of us came in to take photos.

Actually, the work went on much better, but anyway during one dive (in spite of the fact that I took 200 pictures) I couldn’t take too much of them. I was a bit worried, because I feared that whe would not do the whole job over a week. Moreover, I wanted to eventually dive at the wreck “for pleasure”.

In the evening, we decided that my partner was to swim a meter before me, and a meter above me with video lights.

Thanks to that, we saved a lot of time to determine our whereabouts.

On the second day, a strong wind came and with already at 7:00 am, we cancelled diving. We had nothing to do, so the guys engaged in determining the procedures in GUE, and thanks to that, I could participate in an interesting and historical discussion, during which Richard, Jarrod and Liam decided on some changes in GUE, and – T2 procedures. Later, they talked about a possibility of application of CCR by GUE. This was extremely interesting and certainly we will officially learn more details soon.

 The next day was even more windy than the previous one, and we were invited to the KRONAN Museum in Kalmar


The museum was established specially for exhibiting the KRONAN wreck, and what ismost important, an identical one is going to be built for MARS, thanks to which, there is a lot of work forthe next generation of divers and I think that more Polish divers will be invited to the project, because the work may take 25 years.

I liked best the staging of Kronan’s sinking

John – one of the members of Deep Sea, is a professional liveguard. He said that the crew of his helicopter had to do exercises sometimes.

Because of weather we had a lot of time, so he asked us if we wantedto take part in them. Already in an hour, the helicopter came, we took off in a pontoon to the stormysea, we jumped in the suits into the water and we pretended to be the casualties.

It was quite nicel and pleasant, the sun was shining and it was warm. But probably doing the same in the winter and with full stress is notso simple.  On the next day, the weather became better at last and at 8:00 we went into the sea.

Unfortunately after 5 minutes, the gas line bursted and very slowly, we came back to the port. I could not believe it – the weather was perfect, the wreck needed a lot of work, and

there I was, lying in the engine room, all messed up, and trying to pull out the old cord to order a new one.

After 2 hours, the cord was already outside and we tried to order a new one.

After like a 100 phone calls, we managed to talk one of our friends intovisiting us and, at the same time, bringing the cord-he lived 200 km from us, sohe seemed to really like us and he actually dropped by for a moment with a new rope in the evening.

In the afternoon the DSP pontoon returned from morning diving and fortunately withoutproblems, took me and Liam to the wreck, so that we could finish our work.


We had missed much, so next days were very busy, wewere diving, repairing the boat or preparing the equipment.

At that time I discovered a new phenomenon. I was too busy/lazy towash myself and over the 3 next days during dives, I noticed that I felt warmer.

On the last day, I got up earlier and took a shower and on that day, I wasdefinitely much colder. It was as if the body generated a natural layer which we scrape when we wash.

I don’t know if it can be used for something;-)

On the last day but one I was already very determined to finish it. I took with mean additional bottom plank, I decided with Liam that we would spend 40 minutes at the bottom andfinally I have completed my photos.

Below, there is a sample of what I was doing during 2 trips


It does not look very interestingly, but after putting together all 1000 pictures the whole wreck will be shown.

On the last day, I could finally take a couple of normal pictures


This was a nice perk at the end of the trip. 

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien