A retired Coast Guard Captain made a sizeable donation to the Ocean Exploration group of the Alaska Chapter of the Explorers Club. Last week Richard Waddell donated his private submarine, which will be used for deep sea science and technical programs for youth. KMXT’s Brianna Gibbs has more.
What started as a potential hobby for Waddell, will now be a crucial learning tool that will hopefully inspire dozens of young Alaskans to pursue ocean sciences.
“Well I bought that submarine many years ago and it belonged to some people that were always in the salvage business and dive business and I went over and looked at it and one thing led to another and a I bought it.”
However, after years of never using it, Waddell said he decided to part ways with sub, and initially thought he would sell it.
“Just never seem to find time to either work on it or get to use it, there’s always some sort of thing happening.”
But then Waddell heard about the Oceans Explorers group and the educational programs it provides for students.
“And I thought well, I’ll just help their cause along. I think it’s a wonderful thing that they’re doing and I’m more than happy to try and do what I can to help them accomplish their project.”
The group hosted students from North Star Elementary School last spring and taught them about marine life in the Aleutian Trench through a simulated deep-sea dive experience.
Michelle Ridgeway chairs the Alaska Chapter of Explorers Club and actually worked with those students last spring. She said via email that the club is excited to have its own submarine, and intends to work on some electronic upgrades and minor restorations here in Kodiak. Ultimately, the submarine will bused as a teaching and training tool for dryland simulated dives, but Ridgeway did say that the sub will be launched in order to test all systems. She said it’s likely the submarine will be shared with other clubs throughout the state.
Waddell said the submarine was built by a famous World War II commander using Navy equipment. It is currently set up for one person but has the ability to seat two. The sub is capable of operating at a depth of 350 feet, but has been pressure tested to over 800 feet. It can typically run for about eight hours and has a cruising speed of 2.5 knots.
And, if you were curious, Waddell said it is indeed yellow.
“Well that’s right. I mean if you’re going to have one you might as well have a yellow one.”