SS Famous

Adventurer dives for famous wreck

By Kevin Rothbauer - The Citizen

There aren't many unexplored places in the world, but for those willing and able to take the right steps, there is still plenty of adventure out there.

Maple Bay's Guy Shockey is one of those modern-day adventurers, and he continued his longstanding love of seeing and experiencing things few people ever have -- or will -- on the weekend of March 13 when he became one of the first people to set foot on the wreckage of the SS Famous, more than 75 years after it was sunk to the murky depths.

The Famous, launched in 1890 as the SS Amur, was scuttled in Bedwell Bay, part of Indian Arm off Burrard Inlet, in 1932. Since 2007, the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia has had an interest in a wreck in the same area, and wanted to confirm whether or not it was in fact the Famous.

They formed a partnership with Shockey's team of Global Underwater Explorers-trained divers, who descended to the ship -- 230 feet below the surface -- on March 13 and 14.

The UASBC had sent a remotely operated underwater vehicle to the hulk in September 2007, but the data it gathered wasn't enough to confirm for certain that the wreck was the Famous.

"We had to actually go and put eyeballs on the thing," said Shockey. "We knew how big the actual Famous was, but we had to confirm this was it."

The dive team consisted of five divers who would descend to the wreck, two surface support divers and a surface manager.

Diving to such a depth is like an "underwater ballet," said Shockey of the process for descending and safely returning to the surface, which involves extensive decompression. Divers with the appropriate skill set are not easy to find.