August 2014 – BWR was contracted to provide historical research and analytical services to Vulcan Inc., in support of their efforts to find and film the wreck of the Littorio Class Battleship ROMA, which was sunk by a German aerial missile in September 1943 off the northern coast of Sardinia. David Mearns worked with the Italian researcher Maria Pia Pezzali to chronologically compile and assess approximately 170 navigational clues in relation to where this technologically advanced battleship was lost with lives of 1,352 men. This effort included conducting additional research in UK and German archives, and led to the plotting and determination of a search box that was shown to contain the wreckage of ROMA.
Although this research and analytical work was completed in August of 2011 in preparation for a possible search attempt by Vulcan, the wreck of ROMA was ultimately discovered in June of 2012 by Guido Gay who had worked for many years on his own personal hunt for the ship. After Gay’s successful discovery of portions of the wreck, he and Maria Pia Pezzali were invited to take part in a subsequent mission to map and film the wreckage using state-of-the-art AUV and ROV technologies operated from the expedition yacht OCTOPUS. This recent mission, which was covered in an article by Garry Kozak in the August 2014 edition of Ocean News & Technology, resulted in the successful location of the missing stern section and a seaplane that went down with the ship.
December 2012 – David Mearns features in a Channel 4 documentary (Sunday 9 December at 8PM) to discover how the German battleship Bismarck sank HMS Hood. David, who first found the wreck of the battle cruiser Hood in 2001 and who coordinated the recent attempt to recover Hood's bell, returns to the wreck site on an expedition sponsored by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen. Mr. Allen donated the use of his yacht OCTOPUS and deepwater ROV for the recovery attempt, which was licensed by the UK's Ministry of Defence.
August 2012 - It has been announced that Bluewater Recoveries will be leading the search for the bell of HMS Hood. Find out more »
June 2012 – Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO Governor-General of Australia presented David Mearns with his Order of Australia Medal (Honorary) at a special investiture ceremony held in London during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. In her address acknowledging David’s accomplishments in finding the shipwrecks of HMAS Sydney and AHS Centaur Ms Bryce highlighted how these discoveries helped countless people across Australia find a sense of closure in what were two of the most mysterious and painful tragedies of WWII.
October 2011 – David Mearns has received the University of South Florida’s Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his career achievements and service to the University. This award is chosen annually from over 250,000 past graduates of USF and was made to David by Dr. Judy Genshaft, President of the University. David is a 1986 Graduate from the University’s Department of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, Florida where he completed an MSc in Marine Geology based on the research of continental shelf geology using high-resolution geophysical instruments.
September 2011 – BWR has provided Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Florida with proprietary trade-secret research and survey information used during their successful searches for the wrecks of SS Gairsoppa and SS Mantola. In the case of Gairsoppa, BWR’s extensive and high-quality survey data, covering a search box of approximately 650 square nautical miles, enabled Odyssey to rule out this area encompassing where the wreck was reported to have been sunk by the German submarine. With BWR’s information Odyssey was able to focus its search on the nearest probable sinking position of Gairsoppa resulting in the wreck being located well ahead of schedule.
April 2011 – The wreckage of Air France Flight 447 has been found at a depth of 3,900 metres by a team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute using the Waitt Institute’s twin REMUS 6000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. David Mearns of BWR provided expert advice during the search to both the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch and France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses. Specifically David advised the AAIB and BEA about the most probable location of the wreckage based on his analysis of the leeway drift of floating wreckage and bodies recovered after the crash. Keith Conradi, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents at the AAIB, praised David’s “invaluable contribution” and commented: “that the position predicted by David was shown to be remarkably accurate.”
November 2010 – David Mearns has been awarded an honorary Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to Australia by locating HMAS Sydney II and AHS Centaur. The Award Citation reads: “As Director of Blue Water Recoveries, Mr. David Mearns and his team discovered the wreck of HMAS Sydney II, fatally damaged and sunk on 19 November 1941, and that of her enemy HSK Kormoran. Mr. Mearns spent seven years researching and investigating, culminating in March 2008 when his team located and photographed both wrecks in the Indian Ocean. He has been able to provide almost 1500 still images and over 60 hours of broadcast quality video.
On 20 December 2009, Mr. Mearns also discovered the wreck of AHS Centaur which was torpedoed and sank off Moreton Island in south-east Queensland on 14 May 1943. On 10 January 2010 he provided official visual confirmation in support of his discovery and collected over 24 hours of footage along with numerous photographs detailing identifying markers of AHS Centaur.
The work of Mr. Mearns in locating the wreckage of HMAS Sydney II and AHS Centaur has solved these long-time Australian mysteries and provided solace to the families of those lost on both vessels.”
October 2010 – The UK based Maritime Foundation has awarded David Mearns with its Maritime Fellowship Award for an outstanding lifetime contribution in a particular maritime field. The Award Citation reads: “For his outstanding courage, technical skill and perseverance in searching for, and locating illusive ship wrecks whose hidden secrets have been of global significance. David Mearns has, as a result of his expeditions, raised international standards for the design and construction of bulk carriers. He has also brought closure to the dependants of merchant seamen and naval personnel through the most committed and determined investigations. The images have had such far reaching resonance that they have touched the lives of nations.”
October 2010 – David Mearns was an invited Keynote Speaker at the joint conference of the Australian Military Medicine Association and Joint Health Command (AMMA/JHC) held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra, Australia. David’s presentation to the nearly 500 delegates covered the expeditions he led to find and film the wrecks of HMAS Sydney and AHS Centaur.
October 2010 – David Mearns was an invited speaker at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, where he obtained his Masters degree in Marine Geology. David gave several presentations during his visit to St. Petersburg, Florida, under the CMS Eminent Scholars Lecture Series sponsored by the City of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Times and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.
September 2010 – Blue Water Recoveries Ltd. have relocated their offices. The Company has stayed in the small market town of Midhurst, West Sussex, approximately 75 minutes south of London, but now occupy a 3-floor office building on the high street. The new address is Challenger House, Rumbold’s Hill, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9BY; and new phone number is +44 (0) 1730 858 114.
April 2010 – BWR was instrumental in the award of a contract to the Norwegian vessel owner and operator Seabed AS by the French Civil Aviation Safety Agency (BEA) in connection with their attempts to locate wreckage of the Air France AF447 plane that crashed into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean on June 1st 2009 with the loss of all 228 persons on board. Seabed AS provided their dynamically positioned offshore vessel Seabed Worker to be used as the support platform for three REMUS AUV’s, and the associated search teams, that will conduct the search in very rough seabed conditions with variations in depth of between 700 and 4,600 metres. The Seabed Worker will also be equipped with its resident Triton XLX 4000 ROV system that will be capable of investigating suspect targets in water depth to 4,000 metres.
March 2010 - On Tuesday 2 March 2010, a memorial service was held at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane to remember the victims of the torpedoed Australian Hospital Ship Centaur.
In addition to military personnel, survivors, relatives and members of the public, the service was attended by:
- Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of Australia
- Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AO, Governor of Queensland
- Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia
- Honourable Anna Bligh MP, Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts
- Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie AO DSC CSM, Chief of Army
- Vice Admiral Russell Crane AO CSM RAN, Chief of Navy
- Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane
The Prime Minister spoke of honouring the memory of lives lost and their commitment to this nation during a time of war. He also spoke of relatives, who waited two thirds of a century for the final resting place of their loved ones.
Premier Anna Bligh spoke of the hope that the Centaur discovery has brought peace for the victims and their relatives. She acknowledged the 268 men and women who died in the line of duty, and the devastation of this loss on families.
Centaur survivor Martin Pash (87) spoke about his experience of waiting for rescue on the night of May 14 1943.
The names of all 268 men and women killed were read out by students of the Centaur Primary School.
This service was the first of two commemorations. A further 'at sea' ceremony will take place later in the year.
January 2010 – Visual confirmation of the wreck of AHS Centaur was obtained during a video and photographic investigation conducted during a series of four ROV dives. The investigation yielded approximately 1,400 still photographs and over 20 hours of high-definition video footage of Centaur’s wreckage. As indicated by the sonar imagery the wreck was found leaning over to port at an angle of approximately 45 degrees and the bow was almost completely severed from the rest of the hull in the area where the single torpedo hit. Despite this damage, characteristic markings and features that identify the wreck as the Centaur were clearly visible, including the iconic red crosses painted on its sides. Photographs of the bell, lying with the name CENTAUR facing upwards provided the final definitive proof. On behalf of the 2/3 AHS Centaur Association, and in keeping with an emergency permit granted by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, a bronze memorial plaque Incorporating a Roll of Honour with the names of all 268 men and women who perished in the wreck was carefully laid on its foredeck. http://www.thepremier.qld.gov.au/initiatives/centaur-search/search-diary.aspx
December 2009 – After a short search lasting just six days, David Mearns confirmed that the search team operating under his direction on board the Seahorse Spirit had found the wreck of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur. Centaur’s wreck was lying at a depth of 2,060 metres at the base of a narrow gulley cut within a larger submarine canyon. The extremely rugged seafloor terrain, in combination with high surface current speeds of 4.2 knots, made the search one of the most technically demanding ever conducted. High-quality side-scan sonar images indicated that Centaur’s hull was broken, as might be expected from the torpedo strike, and that the wreck was lying partially over on its side.
November 2009 - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that the search for the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur is to begin in mid December. The search is to be conducted in phases (Phases 1 and 2 deeptow side-scan sonar search and Phase 3 ROV video/photographic investigation) from the multi-purpose vessel Seahorse Spirit. David Mearns is managing the project on behalf of Queensland's Department of Premier and Cabinet and will be directing the at-sea search attempt.
September 2009 - David Mearns’ new book The Search for the Sydney has made a number of bestsellers lists in Australia. The book is ranked the Number 3 non-fiction book in Australia by Nielsen BookScan; the Number 1 history book in Australia by The Sun Herald; and it is the Number 1 selling non-fiction book for the publishers HarperCollins.
August 2009 – David Mearns will be conducting a 12-date, 8-city promotional tour in connection with the launch of his latest book Search for the Sydney. The tour is being organised by the publishers HarperCollins and will involve David giving illustrated lectures at each venue. Click here for details of the tour dates and locations.
July 2009 – Launch of BWR’s new website.
July 2009 – Extracts from David Mearns’ latest book Search for the Sydney have been published in News Ltd. newspapers around Australia. The book will be available for purchase in shops at the start of August.
June 2009 – David Mearns travelled to Brisbane, Australia to present his initial research findings on the probable sinking location of the hospital ship Centaur to a public forum of interested stakeholders. The Queensland Deputy Premier Paul Lucas introduced David to the stakeholder group at Parliament house and together they jointly addressed a press conference on the project’s progress.
March 2009 – Blue Water Recoveries has been awarded a contract by the Queensland Government’s Department of Premier & Cabinet for project management services in connection with the Finding Centaur Project. David Mearns has been appointed the project manager and search director for the location of this hospital ship that was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943 with the loss of 268 lives.