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Dive mission to protect Sea Venture

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Hard at work: Bermuda Regiment diver Pte Satyra Robinson, above, loading sandbags. Right, Governor George Fergusson helps Regiment Commanding Officer Michael Foster-Brown fill sandbags on St Catherine’s Beach

A mission to protect the remains of Bermuda’s founding ship, the Sea Venture, was carried out over the weekend by a team of Bermuda Regiment divers.

The iconic wreck of the English flagship, captained by Admiral Sir George Somers, has lain since 1609 a half-mile off St Catherine’s Point.

Its surviving timbers are threatened by shipworms, which devour wet wood but cannot destroy wood protected by sand.

The animals, also known as teredo worm, are in fact a species of clam. By sandbagging the exposed wood, divers from the Regiment’s underwater task force safeguarded the ship’s remnants.

The team of 14 divers worked with the custodian of wrecks, Phillipe Rouja, of the Department of Conservation Services, and the Historic Wrecks Authority.

Sergeant Major James Self, who led the team, called the dive the “signature event” of the Regiment’s 50 wreck dives in 50 days initiative, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the force.

About 50 bags were packed around the timbers on Saturday. To avoid plastic pollution, the bags were fashioned of biodegradable jute supplied by the British Army.

Team member and veteran band member Jarrod Zancanella called the Sea Venture wreck a part of Bermuda’s history that was now preserved for future generations.

“There’s not much left now — but I’ll always be able to say I’ve been to the Sea Venture.”

Sergeant Marquisha Douglas, a group sales manager at the Fairmont Southampton resort, said: “I’ve never been near the Sea Venture before. It’s such an important site and it was something new for me today.”

Governor George Fergusson and Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown, although not scuba divers, donned fins and diving masks to make a personal inspection of the work and the remnants of the vessel.

Mr Fergusson called it “extraordinary to be so close to something so symbolic to Bermuda”.

The next recruit open house for the Regiment is set for September 19 at Warwick Camp.

Regiment divers load their vessel with sandbags at St Catherine's Beach. Photo supplied.
Governor George Regusson helps Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Michael-Foster Brown in filling sandbags on St Catherine's Beach. They will be used to protect the ageing timbers of the historic Sea Venture wreck. Photo supplied.