SURVEY SUNKEN CITY - T-ISLAND SCREENPLAY
EXACT TIME - In 1969, Edwin Link discovered one of the most famous pocket watches made in Amsterdam in 1686, stopped at exactly 11:43. It was an elegant brass piece, giving the exact time of the earthquake: 17 minutes to noon; 11:43.
"Perfect weather Hal."
"That it be Captain."
The Elizabeth Swann cruised along the southern coast of Jamaica, heading west.
"Kingston Harbour is situated on the south of the island between 17˚57'N and 58'N and 76˚44'W to 52'W. The Port Royal mangrove swamp forms part of the southern border of the Harbour and is located on the Palisadoes tombolo between 17˚56'N and 76˚49'W."
"Yes, thanks Hal."
John Storm had relented, against his better judgment, and somewhat weary from rescuing the utterly delightful Cleopatra, but, Roberta and Charley asking for help, meant this must be important. Indeed, John had a childhood fascination with pirates and dreamt of one day finding treasure. The lure was thus too much to resist, which interest he kept to himself.
"What are we looking for Skip?" Dan Hawk was sitting in front of the control console of the Swann. He had a boyish look of anticipation on his face.
"Just a survey of another sunken city." Patrisha Leopard (Cleopatra) chimed in sarcastically, where she'd been recovered, or rescued from the depths only recently. She shrugged and smiled mischievously, then shivered involuntarily. Wondering to herself if there might be any more reincarnations from the freezing cold deep in the pipeline.
The coincidence factor was not lost on John or Dan. John responded: "In 1692 a tsunami swallowed up old Port Royal. There has just been another quake, and nobody has done a reliably detailed survey of just what might be worth protecting, post quake. Though, the list of excavations since 1859, is long and distinguished. The last detailed study completed in 1990 by the Texas A&M Institute of Nautical Archaeology."
"If Blue Shield are interested right now, something must be worth recording, culturally." Said Dan.
"Yes, and don't forget that Charley is in on this one too." Said the former queen of Ancient Egypt.
"She is a very good friend." John replied. "A good friend who has her finger on the pulse, her hunches a kind of spooky sixth sense."
"A bonus. Helps her get where she needs to be. But not a patch on your radiance this morning." John teased.
Listening and taking all that in, Dan was watching Hal on screen, pulling funny faces.
"Hal, would you calculate a grid pattern search of the sunken city. Please. And send up the drone to get an aerial view. Might help."
"Displaying now Dan." And up came the suggested course, based on acquired data, from Blue Shield.
A roof panel slid open on the Swann, revealing a docking station and charging pad, for a drone, armed with optical, infra-red cameras, and other sensors. The rotors spun up with a high pitched whir, and off the drone went, ahead of the hydrogen ship.
The two men watched the drone become a speck in the seascape, then studied the grid pattern. Patricia decided to get in on the act.
"Make room." John and Dan shuffled so that threesome could see the screen.
"There are three screens, one for each helm position. The drone camera is on the other screen." Hal, reminded them. But somehow it was cozier, all looking at the same display.
John explained: "The AI has calculated a grid search pattern that stands a better chance of identifying anything out of the ordinary, by comparing with pre-quake data. Such as something newly surfaced. We already know where some ruins are, or were, from surveys conducted in 1959 and 1990."
Dan continued: "The waters are so cloudy down there, it limits visibility to just a hand in front of your face. A lot of nautical surveys are by touch, just groping in the ooze."
"That's why they need us." Said Hal. "With our sensor array, we can virtually see, better even than a dolphin's sonar. Or a shark's proximity pressure sensors. What is captured by our advanced split beam sonar, and other instruments, is converted to a map of images with precise geographical locations."
John continued: "Hurricane Charlie destroyed what was left of the buildings in Port Royal in 1951. Not leaving very much. An archaeological catastrophe. Miraculously, some of the submerged buildings are in incredibly good condition. Port Royal is believed to be one of the best preserved underwater cities."
"Okay Hal, let's do it."
The Elizabeth Swann began the pre-planned grid search. Soon a detailed map of the seabed and building's remains began to appear. Cleopatra watched spellbound. "It's like magic. If only Marc Antony could see this."
John looked at Dan, acknowledging that blast from the past. He continued: "At present, eight buildings have been investigated resulting in detailed data and an unrivalled collection of in situ artifacts. The site is on a tentative list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Would you believe that from 1597 to 1994 the city has been hit by at least 47 hurricanes and major storms, nine earthquakes of major or moderate intensity and two major fires."
"No way," said Dan. "And they still live there?"
"As you can see from the scan data... Wow, will you look at that. It's like walking down the ruins at Herculaneum, only submerged."
The Swann changed course several times, zig-zagging along the planned grid route, thanks to Captain Nemo. The crew did not have to lift a finger. In fact, Nemo was more precise than any human skipper, by virtue of the military quality Differential Global Positioning System, or DGPS as it is commonly called. Alongside the positional data, the seawater was sampled for chemical make up, flora and fauna composition, to give a detailed analysis of the area. Probably more than any officials would like to know, when it comes to polluting discharges from rivers, etc.
"It's a large town near Pompeii in Italy Dan. But is it now a ruin John?
"Sure is Miss Leopard. Wiped out in 79AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted smothering everything in volcanic ash. If you are into excavations, it's well worth a visit. Happened just over 100 years after ....." John stopped himself.
The Swann traversed again, then Hal advised: "Survey completed Captain Storm."
John smiled at the formality. The scan had picked up hundreds of submerged metal objects, that sonar alone could not see. Most of the remains of the 17th century city were under forty feet of water. No longer visible below the waves, where previously visitors had reported an eerie sensation of floating over the rooftops, as they cruised overhead.
"A chap called Edwin Link, and his wife Marion, first explored this site between 1956 and 1969. They started as amateurs, but built a special boat for underwater exploration called Sea Diver. Over the first 10 weeks of an expedition they uncovered brick walls and a cannon from a fort, with help from the Smithsonian, US Navy, National Geographic, and Jamaican government."
Hal chimed in: "Yes, but he was the marine archaeologist who discovered the brass pocket watch, that famously, stopped at noon on the 7th of June 1692, as the sea engulfed the wearer."
"True. And would you believe, that a frigate named HMS Swann, was washed over the rooftops of the buildings at Port Royal by the tsunami, as the buildings sank."
"Thanks for that Skip." Groaned Dan, superstitious at the best of times, and now wondering if this mission was somehow fated.
"Okay. So, the survey shows that the tremor seems to have changed the seascape a little, but all of the key buildings appear unscathed. UNESCO and Jamaica will be pleased about that. But there is a mound that was not visible previously, at the site of the old Palisadoes Cemetary."
"We still don't know why Blue Shield were in on this?" Dan scratched his chin, in thinking mode.
"Probably because such disturbances, attract tourist divers and opportunists, who might pocket artifacts, and not report the find, condition and position. Worse, may try and sell them on Ebay, to fund who knows what." Hal introduced both logic and confusion.
"Hold that thought. 'The mound' has something inside that cannot be read by our scanners. Funny how Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University, their Institute of Nautical Archaeology, missed that in over ten years of digging around in the 1980s."
"Shall I prepare the ROV Skipper?"
"Yes please. Oh, and recall the drone. Thanks Hal."
UNESCO and Blue Shield work together to protect heritage sites from looters, under the tenets of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict 1954.
John Storm is persuaded by Charley Temple and Doctor Roberta Treadstone to proceed to Jamaica urgently, requested by UNESCO, to catalogue the archaeological remains of the underwater city, Port Royal, using the Elizabeth Swann's ultra modern array of subsea survey sensors, worried that another quake threatens to wipe out all records from the last survey in 1981. They plan to make the submerged city a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dr. Treadstone is aware of his expertise as a diver and archaeological knowledge, but cannot figure out how he manages to come out of some of his escapades unharmed. Which is why Blue Shield call on the ocean adventurer from time to time -
Damn you for Villains, who are you? And, from whence came you? The Lieutenant made him Answer, You may see by our Colours we are no Pyrates. Black-beard bid him send his Boat on Board, that he might see who he was; but Mr. Maynard reply'd thus; I cannot spare my Boat, but I will come aboard of you as soon as I can, with my Sloop. Upon this, Black-beard took a Glass of Liquor and drank to him with these Words: Damnation seize my Soul if I give you Quarters, or take any from you. In Answer to which, Mr. Maynard told him, that he expected no Quarters from him, nor should he give him any.
SCENE 5. SUNKEN CITY SURVEY - Present Day, Swann's sensors scan the ocean bed, revealing mausoleum former Governor of Jamaica.
JILL BIRD - London. John
Storm's finds lost Henry Morgan's pirate remains. "And for those of you wondering,
there was no treasure."
SCENE 10. SHIP'S COOK - William Gray helps John Long's cut-throats to crew for Huntington's Hispaniola, Long a dab hand on the galley.
SCENE 12. SKELETON ISLAND - Intrigued by map proffered by Lord Huntington, John agrees to switch attention to location, to coast of Panama. .
SCENE 17. BLACKBEARD'S CURSE - John retakes Swann, Hal immobilizes Black Jack and Billy Bones and rescues prisoners on Hispaniola.
This website is Copyright © 2023 Cleaner Ocean Foundation & Jameson Hunter - All rights reserved