Ben Franklin: Captain's Log
Ben Franklin Gulf Stream Drift Mission Report
Grumman Aerospace Corporation
Ocean Systems Department
Document OSR-69-19

The following is a very condensed version of the Captain's Log

written by Captain Don Kazimir and published in the

Ben Franklin Gulf Stream Drift Mission Report,

describing how the mission progressed day-by-day and

highlighting some of the most significant events.

The hand-drawn figures were part of the very detailed

and lavishly illustrated logbook kept by Erwin Aebersold,

engineer and pilot onboard Ben Franklin.

14 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 14, 1969>

At 1025 hours the "Ready for Sea" checkout was completed. It

was hoped the BEN FRANKLIN could leave port quietly with

little fanfare; however, quite a crowd was on hand. The BEN

FRANKLIN got underway at 1043 hours and passed the sea buoy

at 1123 hours with only H. Dorr and D. Kazimir aboard to prepare

the boat for diving. The remainder of the crew was aboard the

M/V PRIVATEER. At 1635 hours, the LiOH was deployed. We

were on station at 1844 hours, waiting for the boat DRAGON

LADY with additional LiOH panels that arrived after FRANKLIN

was underway. At 2030 hours, the hatch was secured with the

crew aboard. "Rig for Dive" was completed, and both VBT's were

empty. At 2056 hours, the main ballast tank vents were opened -

diving (Dive number 41). The boat descended smoothly - dribbled

shot occasionally to slow descent. Trim good, no propulsion

needed. At 2150 hours, we bottomed in 510 meters of water.

Commenced checking boat and NAVOCEANO equipment.

NAVOCEANO gear working well except transmissometer, sub

bottom profiler, and magnetometer. Side scan sonar will not

operate due to high voltage provided by ships batteries. It was

estimated that it would take a few days before the voltage was less

than 30 volts.

15 July 1969 (day 1)

Depth Figure for July 14-15, 1969

The checks were completed at 0100 hours; all hands settled down.

Commenced dribbling the shot to achieve neutral buoyancy at

20-ft altitude. The BEN FRANKLIN was underway drifting north

in the Gulf Stream at 0119 hours; visibility good but the current

was quite slow. Sonar in standby when not in use. One landing

light used for forward visibility. At 0150 hours noticed a slight

air leak in the air reducer and tightened the plug but it still leaked

(very slightly) so it was decided to secure all air flasks. During

this period, a few output fuses blew in the auxiliary 60-cps

inverters due to operator error (too much load on the inverter).

Also discovered a slight hydraulic leak around the valve stem of

the depth gage. The bonnet was tightened and the leak stopped; At

0500 hours, we were drifting very slowly; the boat was getting

colder and colder. We dribbled shot occasionally to account for

hull shrinkage as the boat cooled down. At 0900 hours, our

position was about 19°, 19 miles from Palm Beach Inlet. Decided

to terminate bottom cruise due to slow drift speed. Began ascent

to 600 ft by dribbling shot. At 1135 hours, noticed a small drip at

NAVOCEANO's penetrator in H-6 (This penetrator dripped

occasionally during the 30 days. It was very slight and usually

dry). Penetrator tightened. During the 1200 hour routine checkoff,

Drager CO2 gage failed; shifted to the Fyrite gage, which worked

well throughout the 30 days. Lost communications with

PRIVATEER at 1420 hours; had to use new 504 unit (underwater

telephone) at full power to regain communications. Evidently, the

PRIVATEER trackers lost us. Range checks were used to regain

position. The Straza 504 paid for itself already. At 1500 hours,

we achieved neutral buoyancy at 300 meters with both VBT's

(variable ballast tanks) empty. The cabin temperature was still

about 55° F, but gradually rising. During this depth change, the

current occasionally came from the north. For these first 2 days,

everyone was quite busy with very little sleep; however, spirits

were quite high.

16 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 15-16, 1969

We were drifting nicely at 200 meters. The ampere-hour system

was in operation; however, the B-2 counter occasionally counted

rapidly for no apparent reason. F. Busby, D. Kazimir, C. May,

and J. Piccard have slight colds. The cabin temperature got up to a

comfortable 66 °F. C. May checked iodine concentration in the

number 1 and 2 fresh water tanks and found no iodine - cannot

understand why, the concentration should be 6 ppm. The same

for tanks 3 and 4. C. May was having difficulty with the bunk

counters and some sleep monitoring caps. The number 1 hot

water tank was cooling down fast since the vacuum was lost -

will shift tanks soon. Good luck message was sent to Apollo 11


17 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 16-17, 1969

We were drifting at approximately 200 meters. Took the first set

of battery ground readings at 0810 hours; they looked fine. The

macerator needed repairs; it wouldn't stop running, so we had to

defuse it. C. May and K. Haigh found a ground on the case and

corrected it. At 1030 hours we deployed the LiOH panels. The

motors were meggered at 1530 hours; they looked fine. The

boat seems to drift with the stern pointing north. She oscillates a

little to either side and occasionally turns around. Began the

descent to the bottom at 1705 hours by flooding the port VBT in

increments. At 1800 hours; the compass was found to be

unreliable; shifted to the portable compass (This compass worked

well throughout the mission). At 1855 hours; we bottomed in

458 meters after sitting on the guide rope and gradually reached

the bottom as the hull cooled. Measured the current speed; which

was quite slow; less than 0.2 knots; At 2036;

we blew the port VBT slightly to ascend to cruise depth - about

20 ft off the bottom. Sat on the guide rope waiting for the current

to push us; but to no avail ~ the current was too slow´ The

Privateer dropped 50 blasting caps for acoustic studies. The drift

rehearsal now over - we will go for 30 days.

18 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 17-18, 1969

At 0112 hours; a slow ascent was begun by blowing the port

VBT in increments. The stern 250-watt light was used mainly for

observations at shallow depth - it attracts quite a bit of plankton.

At 0609 hours; two swordfish were observed at the aft hemisphere

swimming around rapidly. Once actually attacked the viewport

that F. Busby was using. At 0900 hours; (at 200 meters) the

humidity went up to 82%; and more silica gel was deployed, This

reduced the level to a satisfactory 75%. Coricidin pills helped in

reducing our cold symptoms. Each day we computed power usage

based on the equipment logs and compared with the actual usage;

however; wide variations existed. We will secure the ampere-hour

system when the computed method becomes accurate.

19 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 18-19, 1969

We were drifting routinely at approximately 230 meters; our

position was 60 miles NE of New Smyrna Beach; Florida. At

1450 hours; at 187 meters; we secured all lights to check light

level. Large print can be read easily. At 2014 hours; we changed

the LiOH panels (we were averaging about 3 days per set of 12).

The Egan Experiment was working well except for

bioluminescence. The boat continues to be very stable at depth.

20 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 19-20, 1969

We were drifting along nicely at 170 meters. We discovered some

carbon monoxide (10 ppm) and a small amount of hydrazine and

acetone during our routine checks with the Drager tubes. The four

-main and four positioning motors meggered out OK. We had to

flood some water in the starboard VBT as the depth decreased to

142 meters. The communications with PRIVATEER have been

excellent. K. Haigh completed the seismic studies with LYNCH

supplying the SUS charges. The highlight of the day was the

moon landing as reported by the PRIVATEER.

21 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 20-21, 1969

We continued drifting at approximately 190 meters. Our position

was 90 miles east of Brunswick, Georgia. We commenced another

set of SUS charges at 1340 hours for acoustic tests. At 1414

hours we began the descent to the bottom by flooding the

starboard VBT in increments. By 1555 we were cruising at the

20--ft altitude in a depth of 372 meters. The current was quite

strong. At 1830 hours, we bottomed briefly to measure the

current using our motors to hold position. At 1850; we were

cruising at the 30-ft altitude. We spotted multiple sonar targets

and ascended to 100-ft altitude. Decided to remain well above the

bottom and then take another look at 0200 hours. We detected the

first bacterial contamination, using endo and total media in Petri

dishes at the head sink. The Grumman movie camera

malfunctioned while attempting to photograph the bottom.

22 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 21-22, 1969

Drifting at 260 meters; commenced descent at 0150 hours. At

0415, at 70-ft altitude, conducted acoustic test using blasting caps

which were released from the surface vessel. At 0500 hours we

were cruising close to the bottom at a good speed, operating the

sonar continuously. The bottom was hard and bumpy with some

small escarpments seen. At 0600, we commenced ascent to a

shallower depth. It would be better to study this area in three

separate excursions during a 24-hr period due to the physical

strain, cold, and high-power usage. At 1400 hours, we conducted

another 1-hour bottom cruise in conjunction with the seismic

studies. Discovered the B-2 counter (This counter in the

ampere-hour system monitored the power used from the B-2

battery string) was malfunctioning; decided to rely on the

computed power figures for the 110-vdc load. The ocean bottom

In this area was fairly interesting. The effects of internal waves

caused large, slow depth changes.

23 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 22-23, 1969

Today we were drifting at 200 meters, about 100 miles east of

Charleston, South Carolina. For a short period, internal waves

were noted at 1000 hours. The boat sometimes changes depth of

40 meters in wave periods of 15 minutes. At the end of the day,

decided to secure ampere-hour system and rely on equipment logs

to compute the power usage (saves power).

24 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 23-24, 1969

At approximately 200 meters today. We were having fits again

due to internal waves. The boat oscillated between 180 and 220

meters. Changed the bacteria fillers and replaced the purafil in the

head blower. Had to drain some fresh water into the mini-waste

tank for flushing. The sinks were clear of contaminants - possibly

due to changing of the bacteria filters. The mission has gone well

- the crew and boat in good shape.

25 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 24-25, 1969

Drifting at 270 meters approximately 90 miles south of Cape

Fear, North Carolina. Motors meggered OK at 1112 hours. At

1123 hours; PRIVATEER reported that we broke through the

north wall of the Gulf Stream; we then commenced running on

two motors at 60 amps to power back into the Stream, on a

course of 100°. At 1705 hours; we completed the transit. Today

we observed endo and total contamination of water at the head


26 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 25-26, 1969

At 233 meters at 0400 hours, it was quite clear that we did not

make our way back into the Stream´ At 0928 hours; we

commenced the ascent to the surface. The decision was made to

have PRIVATEER tow FRANKLIN. We ascended slowly in order

to prevent battery gas from escaping too fast. We saw many

sharks and a barracuda enroute to the surface. We also heard gas

escaping boat got quite warm while on the surface and the sea was

calm. The boat was left sealed during the surfacing and towing in

order not to disturb the "closed environment" which was

important to the NASA study.

27 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 26-27, 1969

At 0313 hours; FRANKLIN arrived at the dive site in the Gulf

Stream core. Divers re-rigged the noise boom. removed the

magnetometer and disconnected the tow line. Dive number 42

commenced at 0401 hours. FRANKLIN submerged rapidly while

shot was dribbled to slow the descent. Several battery vent valve

salt water sensors came "ON". It took several hours for the boat

to stabilize in the temperature and she finally settled out at

approximately 200 meters at about noon. Megger readings taken

in the evening showed quite a drop for the number 2 main motor

but the reading is still OK. At this point in the mission two crew

members picked up a rash probably due to perspiration and the

fact that underwear was changed every 3 days (not often enough).

The carbon monoxide level was now up to 15 ppm. The acetone

and hydrazine levels had not increased.

28 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 27-28, 1969

We drifted today quite nicely at 200 meters. High bacteria counts

throughout the boat necessitated a thorough wash down with

microguard. Also, a routine setup to wash down the galley a

shower and head areas daily was instituted. At 1222 hours we

began the descent to 565 meters to measure the ambient light and

to conduct acoustic tests for mid-water scatterers and bottom

reflectivity. Commenced the ascent at 1944 hours. The boat was

very stable no internal waves. F, Busby and E. Aebersold repaired

the wobbly wardroom table with two C-clamps. one "Vise Grip"

and two butter knives for shims.

29 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 28-29, 1969

Drifting at shallow depths approximately 85 miles SSE of Cape

Lookout, North Carolina. We passed the halfway point in the

mission at 2030 hours.

30 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 29-30, 1969

Drifting at 165 meters. The boat was rising slowly. The carbon

monoxide level was up to 20 ppm. We ran the contaminant

removal system for 1 hour. The mission was getting to be quite

routine now with plenty of sleep for everyone.

30 July 1969

Depth Figure for July 30-31, 1969

Today we drifted at shallow depths. We went past Cape Hatteras

and headed out to the open sea. The hot water was heated for 2. 5

hours in tank number 3.

1 August 1969

Depth Figure for July 31-Aug 1, 1969

Again we drifted at shallow depths approximately 35 miles east of

Cape Hatteras. At 2055 hours we released a SAS ball with urine

and feces samples in it. The ball was retrieved immediately by

PRIVATEER. Surprise for someone if it wasn't retrieved. The

galley, shower, and head faucets all show contamination This is

no problem since cold water was used only for washing.

2 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 1-2, 1969

Drifting again at shallow depths today. Motor number 2 meggered

~ holding steady at 5 megohms. Had to heat the hot water for 2. 5

hours; The carbon monoxide level was at 20 ppm, Swiss National

Day was celebrated yesterday (August 1st) by lighting a match in front

of the United States and Swiss flags.

3 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 2-3, 1969

Approximately 120 miles east of Cape Hatteras; we drifted at

shallow depths. Our drift speed has increased to close to 3 knots.

J. Piccard caught a salp in the plankton sampler.

4 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 3-4, 1969

At approximately the 200-meter depth, we drifted 300 miles south

of Block Island. Internal waves made life interesting. The drift

speed was up to 3 knots Plenty of power available as the batteries

continue to hold up well.

5 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 4-5, 1969

Drifting at shallow depths (200 meters) again at a good speed

approximately 270 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, During the

day, many tuna were sighted. The USS LAPON (SSN661)

transited the area on the surface, FRANKLIN and PRIVATEER

had underwater phone contact with her as she passed through the

area. The carbon monoxide level was up to 30 ppm; ran the

contaminant removal system for 4 hours, Drager readings before

and after running the system indicated no change in the level,

6 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 5-6, 1969

Again drifted at shallow depths approximately 165 miles south of

NANTUCKET SHOALS LIGHTSHIP; Had difficulty blowing

the starboard VBT for depth-keeping - the lines seemed to be

plugged. Cleared the system by building air pressure up to 10

atmospheres over sea pressure. Many whales and porpoises have

been heard on sonar for past few days. Internal waves continue to

plague us; however, the experience level in trimming the boat has

increased to a point where it is no problem. Ran the contaminant

removal system for 4 hours . The carbon monoxide level was at

30 ppm.

7 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 6-7, 1969

Drifted at 298 meters, moving up and down with no need for

accurate depth keeping. Our position is now about 195°, 320

miles from Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, Heated hot water tank

number 3 for 8 hours. Ran the contaminant removal system again

for 4 hours.

8 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 7-8, 1969

Proceeded nicely at shallow depths at a good speed. Meggered the

motors - all OK. The batteries are in good shape also.

9 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 8-9, 1969

Drifted at 265 meters. At 1811 hours, commenced the descent to

500 meters. At this level, conducted acoustic work using SUS

charges. Vibrations could be felt through the hull even though the

charges were set to explode at 60 ft.

10 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 9-10, 1969

Drifted at 500 meters. Completed the deep excursion at 0030

hours. The carbon monoxide level was up to 40 ppm. The crew is

getting restless. We still have not seen the deep scattering layer´

11 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 10-11, 1969

Again drifted at shallow depths. Our speed slowed to less than 2

knots. At 2007 hours commenced the descent to 500 meters for

acoustic work.

12 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 11-12, 1969

Conducted acoustic experiments at 500 meters. Commenced return

to shallow depths at 0028 hours. The macerator switch burned

out; the system can be used without the macerator. Heated the hot

water tank number 3. The crew has channel fever - quite anxious

to surface. Conducted another descent to 500 meters, commencing

at 2017 hours. Ran the contaminant removal system for 4 hours/

13 August 1969 (day 30)

Depth Figure for Aug 12-13, 1969

Today we drifted routinely at 408 meters ascending to shallow

depths. We checked the number 2 motor and it meggers OK. The

carbon monoxide level was at 40 ppm. Commenced preparations

for surfacing. The Coast Guard Cutter COOK INLET, arrived and

will standby in order to transport personnel to Portland, Maine.

Since no deep scattering layer was found during the drift, BEN

FRANKLIN will surface with excess power available.

14 August 1969

Depth Figure for Aug 13_14, 1969

Drifted at 288 meters while preparations continued for surfacing.

The boat was rigged for heavy weather, all data packaged for

transfer to COOK INLET. Commenced slow ascent at 0432 hours

and surfaced at 0757 hours. LYNCH, COOK INLET,

PRIVATEER, two vessels from WHOI, and two rubber boats

stood by. The crew and data was transferred to the COOK INLET.

FRANKLIN was taken in tow by the PRIVATEER after the

PRIVATEER received fuel and provisions from LYNCH.

gene carl feldman ( (301) 286-9428