Mike Fletcher is a professional diver from Port Dover, Ontario. Operating from his fully-outfitted 60′ dive support vessel, Kenteau, he has done extensive research on many shipwrecks in Lake Erie. Now in his 20th season of commercial diving, he is currently doing work for Aquatic Sciences, based in St. Catharines, Ontario.
A speaker at our first Shipwrecks symposium in 1995, Mike will present an update on the fate of the Atlantic and events to date. Though embroiled in this battle, his ongoing involvement in new adventures and exciting projects has continued. He will be also be providing us with a video presentation of one of these projects, the Squalus.
The Squalus was a state-of-the-art submarine launched in the Spring of 1939. On one of her first sea trials, she experienced a failure of an induction valve and sank in 243′ of water, trapping 55 men. The ensuing rescue operation employed U.S. Navy divers in standard Mark V equipment and the new McCann-Erickson rescue chamber, to bring 33 men to the surface. The rest of the crew, trapped in the flooded after-section of the submarine, had perished in the sinking.
The Squalus was raised, renamed Sailfish, and compiled a proud record in WWII. Cinenova Productions, Inc. produced a one hour movie for Discovery U.S. during the summer of 1997. Surface filming was done in Battleship Cove, R.I. The underwater sections of the movie were filmed in Lake Erie off Port Dover, Ontario. Mike will outline this tragedy and give a behind-the-scenes look at Cinenova’s re-creation and his part as a Mark V diver in this exciting production.
LIFE AFTER THE ATLANTIC
The Steamer Atlantic, a 267′ sidewheeler, sank in 160 feet of water off Long Point, Lake Erie, following a collision in August 1852. The vessel was luxurious in design and carried many immigrants, with their possessions, to a new life in the new world.
Over the years, several attempts to salvage the Atlantic met with limited success, and she was abandoned for the last time in the early 1900’s. Her location forgotten, she was rediscovered on September 1, 1984 by Mike Fletcher from Port Dover.
The name of Mike Fletcher will be linked for all time with the story of the Steamer Atlantic. In the face of indifferent authorities and vague legalities, his fight to preserve and protect the wreck from both amateur and professional salvors has taken a personal toll which most would not be willing to pay.
His formation of the Steamer Atlantic Preservation Project is his attempt to document the present and future condition of this historic time-capsule, all at no cost to the taxpayer.