Chris Lemons and the rest of the crew aboard the Bibby Topaz had a simple mission. At least, it should have been simple for a team of such experienced divers. Their vessel was to plunge deep into the North Sea. Then Lemons, Dave Yuasa and Duncan Allcock would step into an even smaller diving bell to take them farther down beneath the waves.
First, they had dived 300 feet down from the bell. Then Lemons and Yuasa began repair work on a damaged pipe while Allcock manned their vessel. The start of their mission had gone off without a hitch, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. Alarm bells started blaring, alerting their crew overhead that Bibby Topaz’s navigation system had malfunctioned.
All of a sudden, the Bibby Topaz started drifting through the North Sea, dragging the diving bell with it. For Lemons and Yuasa, this posed a life-threatening problem. Their oxygen cords connected to the smaller vessel that had begun to move without warning. Even through the water, Yuasa could hear as Lemons’ life-support cable, surrounded in metal, snapped under the pressure.