WASHINGTON (Aug. 27)
A submersible robotic vehicle that was used recently to film the wreck of the ocean liner Titanic will be deployed in Egyptian waters in the Mediterranean Sea in an effort to find the Israeli submarine, Dakar, sunk in January, 1968, according to the Department of Defense.
A Pentagon spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the search will begin in late September in a cooperative effort between the U.S., Israel and Egypt. If the search by the U.S. Navy is successful, efforts will then be made to salvage the submarine and recover the remains of the 69 members of her crew.
There has never been any explanation why the diesel-driven Dakar sank on her maiden voyage from England to Israel. The submarine was a modernized British World War II vessel.
Israel, helped by several other nations, searched unsuccessfully for the Dakar after it was lost. There have also been three searches in cooperation with Egypt. A marker buoy from the Dakar washed ashore about 90 miles south of Tel Aviv, about a year after the submarine sank. This and other clues have given the Israelis a general idea of where the search should be conducted.
When Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Washington last year he asked Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to use the robotic equipment to search for the Dakar, according to the Pentagon spokesman. The effort was to have begun earlier this year, but the equipment and salvage material was needed by the Navy after the space shuttle Challenger exploded, the spokesman said.
The equipment was then used this summer to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. It consists of a small submarine, which carries three persons and can descend to a depth of 6,000-13,120 feet, and then go along the sea floor and pick up objects with an arm and claw.
It also can extend a robot explorer, the Jason Jr., which is attached by a 250 foot tether and can go in and around objects. This was what was used to film the Titanic wreckage.