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The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown—time for the UAB to step aside!

16 January 2020

Those who are aware, or who have been following the story of World Ware II aircraft recovery from Lake Michigan in this blog, will like to know of this recent as well as dynamic change in the situation. The situation being the apparent sickness that is the Underwater Archeology Branch (UAB) of the U.S. Navy denying continued recovery of these aircraft (many are World War II battle veterans such as SBD Dauntless 2106) as well as harm to the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM). This has resulted in a cessation of aircraft recovery for a decade, just as invasive mussels have impacted the ecology of Lake Michigan to the detriment of these wonderful aircraft (they use the aircraft as a substrate to cement themselves where, back in the day, no such destructive problem existed prior to the moratorium). This began the ticking of the clock as the aircraft inexorably deteriorate to nothing.

Tik tok! Tik tok!

 

Actual Douglas SBD Dauntless displayed as if on the bottom of Lake Michigan as a conserved wreck (prior to the mussel invasion) in the National Naval Aviation Museum—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Dauntless 2106, the sole Battle of Midway combat veteran on display which was found and recovered by A and T Recovery as well as restored by the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Pilot’s cockpit of a Douglass SBD Dauntless (prior to the Zebra and Quagga mussel invasion of Lake Michigan)—image courtesy of A and T Recovery

Mussel encrusted cockpit dash panel of a Vought F4U-1 Corsair—image courtesy of A and T Recovery

In concert, A and T Recovery and the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation (NNAMF) for the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) have recovered and restored over three dozen of these aircraft. They serve the American public well by having loaned these perfectly restored aircraft to museums and airports for public display across the country—as well as a few foreign countries to boot. Their effort spectacularly found, recovered, and restored the sole Battle of Midway combat veteran aircraft on display—SBD Dauntless 2106 with its 200+ flak/bullet hole patches. The UAB has attempted a handful of aircraft recoveries elsewhere with an abysmal record of zero successes—as illuminated on their website.

See these links for the story so far:

The UAB, as miserably as they have behaved, appeared to be moving toward improvement over the last few years but recent events show this has been a less-than-valiant ruse. Not only has the UAB been stiff-arming and stone walling the team of A and T Recovery and the NNAMF they recently have attempted to academically steal the credit for an important archeological discovery made by A and T Recovery which is the World War I German submarine known as UC-97. That is right—World War I not World War II! This is a rare example in the Western Hemisphere and represents the maturation of a strategic weapon from the odd to the ubiquitous.

Read the announcement below to come up to speed on this most recent embarrassing behavior by the UAB in the name of the U.S. Navy—which shows the UAB’s true colors.

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A and T Recovery Announcement

To All Concerned:
For the past thirty-something years, A and T Recovery, L.L.C. has surveyed the southern basin of Lake Michigan in search of the once lost World War II United States Navy aircraft.  We have recovered approximately forty of the aircraft, mostly on behalf of the National Naval Aviation Museum with support from the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and many others.  Many of the recovered aircraft have been restored and are now on display at nearly two dozen of our country’s most prestigious museums and airports.
Since circa 1993, the Naval History and Heritage Command (at one time called the Naval Historical Center) has opposed our efforts as well as those of the staff at the National Naval Aviation Museum, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation to present these wonderful machines of peace, used by the “Greatest Generation”, to the American public.  We at A and T Recovery, L.L.C. believe that the staff of Naval History and Heritage Command, in particular the Underwater Archaeology Branch are ill qualified for the management of these historic assets.
This past year our attempts to negotiate with the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command, to include their general counsel, has continued to strengthen this belief.  We at A and T Recovery, L.L.C. have presented multiple proposals that were solicited by the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command.   The ordeal began with the following email that was sent on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

“Taras, on a similar note, we have been conducting an archival review and update of U.S. Navy losses in Lake Michigan for management and documentation purposes. Presently, we are seeking data from local entities that may possess more precise locational information for naval aircraft and UC-97 beyond the historical records. Any information you are willing to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,

Bob

Robert S. Neyland, Ph.D.
Branch Head
Underwater Archaeology Branch
Naval History and Heritage Command”

On behalf of the United States Navy, he was soliciting the intellectual property that belongs to a private company.  In response to that solicitation we (A and T Recovery, L.L.C.) prepared multiple proposals for the staff at Naval History and Heritage Command for the survey of Lake Michigan that would locate remaining missing Navy aircraft.  Each proposal was met with a response that dramatically introduced a set of increasingly complex technical requirements that were unrealistic and clearly not necessary for the successful accomplishment of the original solicitation.  It appears to us that they were seeking to establish a set of requirements that made it impossible for A and T Recovery, L.L.C. to perform the tasks.  We do not believe that the staff at Naval History and Heritage Command ever intended to negotiate in good faith.  It should be noted that the survey methodology proposed by A and T Recovery, L.L.C. is the same methodology utilized by the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage to locate under water objects for identification and recovery.
Taking into consideration all that has occurred with the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command over the past years, we have come to the conclusion that the staff at the National Naval Aviation Museum and the American public are far better stewards of the once lost U.S. Navy World War II aircraft of Lake Michigan.
The actions of the Naval History and Heritage Command are allowing many historic aircraft to corrode to nothing at the bottom of Lake Michigan when they could be recovered and presented to the public.  Realizing that we do not have the ability to change the harmful attitude and actions of the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command or the decision of the Navy to place this responsibility with this command, A and T Recovery, L.L.C. intends to begin an action of our own.
The American sport scuba diver does several tasks very well, the first being the boasting of their exploits.  They do this by venturing below the water where they photograph and video what they see to share with others.  It is our intent, starting in the spring of 2020, to begin sharing with the American sport diving community locations of the remaining once lost U.S. Navy World War II aircraft of Lake Michigan.  This is in keeping with our traditional behavior, acting “pro bono publico”, for the public benefit.   Over the past forty years we have shared dozens of locations of once lost shipwrecks with the American sport diving community.  This has led to much of our shared history being presented to the American public, in an array of venues.  This includes, film festivals, other public forums and presentations, book publications, print and visual media, and social media, e.g. YouTube, Face Book, LinkedIn.  If the Naval History and Heritage Command won’t make these aircraft available to the public, the sport diving community will.
The United States Navy, by placing this responsibility with the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command, is failing the people of the United States of America.  We shall seek to overcome this short coming by continuing to enlist the assistance of the American public.  A group of people for which the staff of the Navy History and Heritage Command has demonstrated a complete lack of respect and utter disdain.
Very Respectfully,
Taras
Taras C. Lyssenko
General Manager
A and T Recovery, L.L.C.
305-794-4457
 
PS.  Please do share this email with the world.
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What can be done?

Email the following today as they do listen to the American public they serve:

  • Thomas.B.Modly@navy.mil (Honorable Thomas B. Modly/Secretary of the Navy)
  • Richard.A.Brown@navy.mil (Vice Admiral Richard A. Brown//U.S. Navy)
  • Sierra_Anderson@rickscott.senate.gov (supporter and representing the Pensacola area for Senator Rick Scott)
  • Julie.devine@mail.house.gov (legislative director for Congressman Sam Graves in Congress with a direct interest in warbird history preservation)
  • mike.ryan@mail.house.gov (in-district representative for Representative Fred Upton, also a Congressperson charged with preserving aviation history )
  • kai.bernal-leclaire@navy.mil (Assistant Counsel/U.S. Navy)
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