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Author Topic: The Ocean Search for Natalee Holloway Monday, November 26, 2007  (Read 103636 times)
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Monkey All Star Jr.
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« on: November 18, 2008, 09:20:12 AM »

The Search for Natalee Holloway

The purpose of this blog is to give an inside look into the search for Natalee Holloway, offshore Aruba, Dec-2007. All writings are from a geophysical engineer and marine geologist on board the search vessel R/V Persistence. All quotes are direct quotes. All information in this site is reviewed for content and accuracy. This site will be updated daily until the search is terminated.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I. Mobilization
The final and most elaborate search for Natalee Holloway has begun. This is likely the most complicated post-mortem search of its kind in history. This case has had many twists and turns during it's 2+ year history. This is one of the final chapters that will hopefully provide closure both to the Holloway family and to the watching world. I've described this search to reporters and friends as a search for a needle in a field of hay stacks while hovering hundreds of feet above the field. However, we have the best needle-detecting equipment and detectors on the planet. The attitude on board the boat is unanimous and unwavering. We know that if God wants her body found, the chances of success are perfect.
To put this all in perspective...
-We will be searching waters as deep as 6 times the height of the Statue of Liberty, or almost as high as the Empire State Building.
-The equipment is towed behind the boat near the seafloor almost 1-mile behind the boat, or over 16 football fields away.
-There are swift currents, rough seafloor topography, and unknown terrain.
-We are looking for a target the size of a shopping cart within the area of Manhattan.
The target is a ~1m x 1m fish/crab trap. A search of this size and complexity, utilizing some of the best equipment and personnel in the world would typically cost around $80K per day, or well over $1 Million. However, due to some deep-pocketed private benefactors and mass-charitable collaboration among multiple equipment lease and marine survey companies, this project is being conducted... without charge. Neither the US or Dutch government is paying for it. A lot must happen before the ocean search occurs.

The mobilization has gone smoothly so far. All equipment is on board the R/V Persistence. The equipment consists of the following:
-Side scan sonar (Edgetech FS4200)
-SeaEye ROV, or remotely operated vehicle
- Sonardyne USBL (Ultra-Short Base-Line) system providing acoustic tracking of the side scan sonar and ROV
-Navigation provided by WinFrog software
- The vessel positioning is provided by multiple Trimble GPS receivers giving us about 1m accuracy.
-Communications (Phone, data transmit, and Internet) are performed by an Agiosat Global Communications Marine Tracking System.

We will leave the dock at Midnight on 27-November, 2007 to perform a "wet-test" on all the gear. This test will take approximately 2 days, where we will calibrate and test all the equipment under real survey conditions. After all testing is complete, we will go back to the dock to drop off all survey personnel, and the R/V Persistence will begin its long journey to Aruba. The journey (approx. 1700 miles) will take around 10 days including fuel stops in Mexico and perhaps Grand Cayman.

The search vessel R/V Persistence - owned and operated by the Silvetti Group

EdgeTech 4200-FS digital Side Scan Sonar, sonar winch in the rear-center

Survey room: from left to right- Side Scan acquisition computer, ROV monitor and controls, navigation computer

Survey room: ROV and Navigation stations

Survey Room - Processing station , sonar processing and analysis

Key Personnel: Bios coming soon! Please check back soon.

Louis Schaefer Jr. - Project Lead and Key Contributor

Tim Miller - Project Management -Founder of Texas Equusearch

Tim Trahan - Underwater Expeditions - Project Management

John Silvetti - Project Lead and Key Contributor- Responsible for overall project planning and development. Owner of Marine Surveys, LLC . Providing the R/V Persistence for the search effort.

Marc Broussard - Project Manager

Kent Bourg- Party Chief

Kyle Kingman - Geophysical Engineer and Marine Geologist

Dr. Rob Floyd - Marine Geologist /Archaeologist

Anthony Fontenot - Acoustic Positioning Technician
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 5:47 PM
« Last Edit: December 11, 2008, 05:52:24 PM by Blonde » Logged

Behind Every Lie is a Clue to the Truth
Monkey All Star Jr.
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2008, 09:29:26 AM »

The Search for Natalee Holloway

The purpose of this blog is to give an inside look into the search for Natalee Holloway, offshore Aruba, Dec-2007. All writings are from a geophysical engineer and marine geologist on board the search vessel R/V Persistence. All quotes are direct quotes. All information in this site is reviewed for content and accuracy. This site will be updated daily until the search is terminated.
Friday, November 30, 2007
III. The Transit
What sets this project apart from others from the search and exploration perspective is how multi-faceted it is. The obvious sides are it's financial philanthropy and technological application, which is what is predominantly reported on (and rightfully so). The other side which isn't so obvious or easily stated on camera is it's emotional and even spiritual aspects. It is impossible to describe the variety and intensity of emotions and feelings each member of the team experience, even while we gear-up. I suppose the collective mood can be summed up as "heavy".

Dockside, the R/V Persistence also heavy, rests laden with fuel and supplies before it sets sail on it's approximate 1,700 mile journey to Aruba. It is midnight. The crew sleeps as I lay in the top bunk of the berth, awake. My mind stirs and torments me as I struggle to find rest, replaying the things of the day. Lists of to-dos and should-have-dones dance through my mind as incomplete bits of information collide. The din of thought is so loud I can almost hear it over the gentle distant hum of the Persistence's Diesel generator propagating through the steel hull. I know I am not alone in my insomnia tonight. Hours tick by while I wait to get up to catch the 6am out of New Orleans. I will head north to my home in New Jersey and the Persistence, south to Aruba. This will be the last posting on board until we reunite in the tarnished paradise about 9 days from now. Struggling to quiet my mind enough to grab a couple hours of sleep just makes me think more of how I am not sleeping. Frustrated by lulling in and out of a half-sleep, ready to abandon the attempt... my mind is suddenly stilled. So much was my mind silenced that it draws my full attention. I am listening. Almost as a whisper or a mist, the words of an old Longfellow poem come pouring into my mind in an image: "Come... wander with me she said, into regions yet untrod, and read with me what is still unread in the manuscripts of God".

It's clear to me that we are again being beckoned into regions of the unknown. We all have our hopes and expectations on what will happen and what we will find. All of us replay slightly differing scenarios through our minds as we lay awake tonight. There is one common thread however that permeates all of us. We know that God has us here for a purpose, and that purpose is being achieved and revealed to us one word of the manuscript at a time.

Transit Route - Approx. 1700 miles, Louisiana to Mexico, to Grand Cayman Is., to Aruba

Posted by Kyle Kingman at 1:33 AM 7 comments 
Labels: Aruba, Natalee Holloway, Search for Natalee Holloway
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
II. Sea Trials - Gulf of Mexico, prior to Aruba
With the mobilization complete, the R/V Persistence and crew set out into the Gulf of Mexico to test all of the equipment to be used during the search for Natalee Holloway's remains. After arriving on site, about 12 hours transit south of Louisiana, we took a SVP (sound velocity profile) to measure the acoustic velocity of the local seawater. Accurate measurements of the sound velocity aid in acquiring accurate sonar data. SVP completed, the side scan sonar is gently lowered into the water with the large winch. A couple steady hands guide the towfish away from the ship's hull to avoid a catastrophic collision, damaging the precious transducers. We anxiously gathered around the primary sonar computer as the first data comes in. Hours of acquisition later, the towfish is dialed in and the data looks very good. The side scan sonar has sufficient resolution to do the work.

The above image is a sample side scan sonar image to illustrate the type of imaging and resolution a high quality digital side scan sonar is capable of acquiring. A wreck (~150ft long 3-masted schooner) is laying upright on the seabed. The dark area to the left of the wreck is the acoustic shadow. A crab trap similar in size and character to the one we will be searching for thought to contain the remains is seen near the bow of the wreck, shown by the black arrow.

After the side scan sonar trials, the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) team and acoustic positioning personnel moves in on location. We moved to a site with about 100ft water depth, adequate to test the acoustic positioning equipment with the ROV. We deployed and calibrated a compatt (computing and telemetry transponder) and then deployed the SeaEye Falcon 1266 ROV. Once in the water, the ROV was tested for telemetry and video functionality. The ROV performed flawlessly.

Seaeye Falcon 1266 ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)

I took 3 screen shots of the Seaeye Falcon 1266 ROV in action from clip.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 07:01:30 PM by Blonde » Logged

Behind Every Lie is a Clue to the Truth
Monkey All Star Jr.
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2008, 10:02:51 AM »

Saturday, December 29, 2007
IX. Dive Series - The Next Phase
Tues 01-Jan - 0032 hrs New Year's Day

"Come, wander with me she said into regions yet untrod. Read with me what is still unread in the manuscript of God." - Longfellow

The words return to me as they did in Louisiana almost a month ago. The assembling swaths of sonar data reveal the seabed to us as if it were a scroll from a mighty manuscript written by a mighty hand. The numerous ROV dives are the Rosetta Stone for reading the great manuscript.

The seabed tells a different tale at every scale of observation. The submarine terrain appears tired, bent, and worn- a stark yet welcomed contrast to our jagged expectations. The seabed is deeply pitted, torn, and scarred. It cryptically cries out in past neglect, ruin, and abandon. Sparkling coral and happy creatures thrive in the shallows blissfully unaware of the decay of their heritage laying just out beyond the reef. The water deepens and color fades to grey where predators roam. Deeper still, the seabed appears lifeless and void. As the ROV touches down onto the deep seafloor, a benthic nephloid cloud erupts, engulfing the remote intruder. As the silt settles in the darkness, polycheate worms withdraw into their delicate burrows. Now under immense pressure, the ROV is in total solitude, stillness, and cold. There is no margin for failure in the ocean. The seafloor speaks of past failure, where grim reminders of the lost and broken abound. It is a relief to be back on board the Persistence in relative safety.

The Persistence is amid uncovering the final planned quadrant of the search area. Once completed and ROV ground-truthed, we will assemble the data and read from the last scroll in this mighty manuscript.

Mon 31-Dec - 1022hrs
The Persistence spent yesterday performing multiple dives with the ROV. The purpose of the dives is for collecting video of each sonar target. Typically, the sonar target is quickly identified and ruled out from the ROV video. The ROV operations lasted until dusk, where we resumed sonar survey operations through the night. Today, we are performing more ROV dives on targets of potential interest.

Sun 29-Dec- 2335 hrs

Dockside, the ROV team went into action this morning on board the Persistence. Before a test dive could be performed, all systems were checked and rechecked. Once the diagnostics were complete, the Persistence and crew went out to a test dive site known to be free of obstructions and major hazards to the ROV. The purpose of testing the ROV was two fold: 1) ensure all systems function perfectly underwater in full operation mode, and 2) prove the Persistence could hold location over the ROV, track the vehicle, and maneuver itself to keep the ROV umbilical cable out of the ship's screws.
During the first test dive, the deployment went smoothly. The ROV motored to the bow of the boat, while the captain kept the stern of the Persistence into the seas. The purpose of this maneuver was to keep the ROV umbilical out of the ship's screws. During this maneuver, the umbilical got temporarily hung up on the ship's hull, but freed itself. The visibility through the water column with the ROV cameras was excellent. When the ROV reached the seafloor we noticed it could not maintain control over it's attitude because of the very strong currents. On the second and third test dive more weight was added to better control the umbilical and ROV. At dusk, the final test was successful and proved we could maintain safe control over both the Persistence and ROV. With a sigh of relief from all, the Persistence and crew resumed survey mode. We will run additional sonar lines into the early morning.

Sat. 29-Dec-1100 hrs
From Tim Miller:

Please allow me to give my sincere appreciation for all the comments supporting our efforts in our search for Natalee. Today is an exciting day as we will now begin working the ROV in hopes of finding a special treasure at the bottom of the sea named Natalee.

Let us keep Natalee, Dave, and Beth in our hearts and prayers. Also, let's not forget all the other families of missing loved ones.

Texas Equusearch has been so very blessed with the support of Underwater Expeditions, the R/V Persistence (Silvetti Group), and their crew - which I think is the best in the world- for all their heartfelt efforts.

May it be His will to bring Natalee home.
-Tim Miller
Texas Equusearch
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 9:40 AM 61 comments 
Labels: Natalee Holloway Aruba, Natalee Holloway Blog, Natalie Holloway, Persistence, ROV dive series, Search for Natalee Holloway, Sonar Search
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
VIII. Side Scan Sonar search
 I took screen shots


Video: The Search for Natalee Holloway - R/V Persistence Dec 26, 2007
Update: Fri Dec-28 2143 hrs

The USBL calibrations are completed. The Persistence just reached the dock to spend the night and take on fresh water. The ROV test dive will proceed first thing in the morning. If successful, the first dive on a sonar target will follow. It will be difficult getting sleep tonight. Months of planning for some, years of planning for a few have all come down to the next couple days. Although unspoken, the stress is intense. We all seem to cope in our own ways. What stays on the surface is unwavering professionalism and focus. Inside, we all hope and pray tomorrow goes perfectly.

Fri Dec-28 1200 hrs

Last night, most of the crew and search team took a break and had dinner on the island. As much as we love the Persistence, it was a needed separation both of work and surroundings. For most of us, it was the first time off the Persistence in over a week.

Today, the trade winds are steady and strong. Wind surfers and parasails dot the beach as the Persistence completes the primary grid of sonar lines. To clarify, there is more planned grid remaining to be surveyed but the priority area is essentially complete. Within minutes, we will perform a calibration routine for the USBL acoustic tracking system. When successful, the ROV team will bring out the ROV and perform a test dive. The dive ensures the Persistence can maintain position over a fixed point (in 35+kt winds, 3-5ft swells, and strong cross currents) while the ROV safely navigates to a known point and can adequately maneuver in close proximity to the seafloor. For once, the pressure is off the sonar operators as they breath a major sigh of relief. All eyes will now turn toward the ROV pilot and boat captain as they perform this difficult dance among men and machine.

Thurs 26-Dec 1230 hrs
Murphy's Law always applies offshore. After acquiring data all day in sustained 35kt winds and strong cross currents, the night was going rather smooth. In about 450 ft of water and towing 20 ft off the bottom, the magnetometer started to tow differently. The operator (Kent) immediately recognized we had a snag. We brought in the towfish to find a mass of derelict fishing gear snagged on the acoustic beacon. The beacon was fastened to the tow cable above the magnetometer only by two small stainless steel hose clamps. Despite the massive strain on the beacon, it survived without any damage.

Wed 26-Dec -0320 hrs
The sonar search is progressing smoothly and the end is within sight. The ROV team has flown into Aruba and will reunite with the Persistence tomorrow. Below is a 3-D perspective view (looking west) of the bathymetric portion of the search on the NW side of Aruba. The contour interval is 25ft, showing water depth ranging from about 60 ft to almost 900 ft. The search area with bathymetry shown below is 22 square miles (the size of Manhattan).

Tues 25-Dec 1400 hrs

From Tim Miller (TES):
I want to personally thank the entire crew of the Persistence for their dedication and sacrifice they have given for the search for Natalee Holloway. Let us keep Dave, Beth, and all who knew and loved Natalee in our thoughts and prayers.
Every day I believe we are more and more optimistic that we will bring Natalee home to Alabama. We have just finished Christmas dinner on the boat and it's now time to go back to work -God be with us in our efforts.
Laura...I Love and miss you. Your death wasn't in vain.

Merry Christmas to All,
Tim Miller
Texas Equusearch

Tues 25-Dec 0140 hrs
To the family and loved ones of the search team and crew of the Persistence:
Words can not express our longing to be with our families over Christmas and the void we all feel. The contact we receive from loved ones through phone calls and emails does provide a diminutive sense of normalcy and solace. We take comfort in knowing life goes on back home in our absence and that this project will eventually come to an end, returning us safely to our families. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continuous prayers, love, and support throughout this project. Loved ones are always on our minds which helps us maintain an unwavering focus and determination to complete this project with success, knowing that in success we shall return.

From the search team and crew of the Persistence to all:
Thank you dearly for your love, support, and prayers both for the search effort and the Holloway family. We hope that during this Christmas season you will stand witness and understand the true Christmas story which has been told and retold in varies forms throughout history. True love never fails and gracefully proves itself strong through sacrifice. We consider ourselves honored to use our God-given gifts and resources to this cause. From all of us, have a wonderful, safe, and merry Christmas.

The search is amidst perhaps the most difficult phase. The excitement and energy of the beginning has waned, yet the end is still on the horizon. We will persevere and give this wonderful vessel reason for it's namesake.

R/V Persistence - 25-Dec- 1225 hrs Christmas Morning (photo by Tony Fontenot)

Mon 24-Dec- 1452 hrs
After reaching the dock at 0600 hrs, the Persistence rests as her crew perform some routine maintenance and make a supply run. There is no obvious outward adornment that it is Christmas Eve, save a single strand of colored lights hung around the galley ceiling. Inwardly, everyone is filled with the true Christmas spirit. Almost routine now, the gear is in the water scanning away. Inch by inch, mile by mile we are progressing nicely.

Mon 24-Dec- 0045 hrs
The side scan sonar and magnetometer search quietly continues on through the night. Rain begins to fall on the Persistence.

Sun 23-Dec- 1452 hrs
Agitated by stiff trade winds, white caps blur the boundary between sea and sky today. Below the daily skirmish over wind and water's supremacy of the horizon, the search quietly continues in the crushing Aruban depths. Yesterday, we devoted some time testing the magnetometer and side scan sonar sensors over local construction materials likely used in constructing a wire trap. This test provided valuable information, both confirming that the construction materials alone can be detected and what kind of signatures to expect from the materials when on the seabed. In light of the test, we have renewed focus and zeal on our goal, to find Natalee Holloway.

Sun. 23-Dec -0130 hrs
The seas are calm and the moon is brilliant on the last survey line of the night. Murphy's Law always applies offshore. Midway through the survey line, the boat suddenly veers off course to avoid a small ~16ft wooden fishing boat anchored near the line. We hold our breath and bring in the sonar and magnetometer as fast as the winches allow. On the telemetry screens, both sensors suddenly go crazy. We caught the anchor line of the fishing boat with the sonar and magnetometer. The Persistence immediately comes all-stop as we cautiously bring in the gear. Fortunately for us and the fishermen, our reaction time was swift. We didn't give the fishermen much of a ride and no one was hurt. After a careful inspection, we determined that miraculously none of the gear was even slightly damaged in the collision. After the encounter was over, we thanked the fishermen for their patience and the small wooden fishing boat and Persistence went their separate ways into the moonlit night.

Sat. 22-Dec - 2035 hrs
The seas calmed throughout the evening. The progress we're making is satisfying. Once again, we will work through the night. At night, the seas tend to be calmer and it's easier to focus on the work without being able to see the beach. The sunset was beautiful this evening. ROV pilot Brandon Hernandez hurried out to the back deck of the Persistence to take the photo for the blog. At the same instance he snapped the picture, a swell washed across the back deck, soaking him half way up his shins. Brandon, now the world will know you by this noble photographic cause.

We came across another unknown wreck today, an approximately 50ft long catamaran. When a wreck is discovered or rediscovered, it is easy to get excited and often celebrate it's finding with a cheer. However, we must remind ourselves that all wrecks have stories and these stories are attached to lives and often lost lives. The ocean is terrific at keeping the especially solemn stories for itself. Only after great effort is the ocean willing to reveal it's deepest secrets.

Sat. 22-Dec- 1110 hrs
The Persistence awakes after a few hour much-deserved nap. The crew diligently toss the lines and she's free of the dock. Leaving the port facility, the seas are calm and the trade winds are pleasant and tropical. The occasional cumulus cloud appear cartoon-like. One small cloud in the distance is dumping rain on a few unfortunate people. I can just imagine what they're thinking.. "why me". The rain has a tendency of seeking us all out. Today over the Persistence, the sun is shining bright.

"We've gridded a 22 sq. mile area with bathymetry and will cover it again with this sonar system and magnetometer... Yes. We will find her if she's out there." -John Silvetti (1102 hrs, 22-Dec).

The search area we already covered by bathymetry and began surveying with side scan and magnetometer is the size of Manhattan.

"I believe she's been out here for over the last two years but we didn't have the resources and technology to find her until now. We're blessed to have these resources. Now, hopefully we'll have a wonderful Christmas present for Dave and Beth". - Tim Miller (1108 hrs, 22-Dec).

Fri. 21-Dec - 0350 hrs
The sonar search is progressing forward very well, ranging in water depths from shallow to around 900 ft. The data quality is terrific. The seafloor morphology although complicated, is much more accommodating than expected. Once the sonar search is completed, the ROV dives will commence.

Thurs. 20-Dec - 1310 hrs
The search team deploy a Marine Magnetics SeaSpy 'Overhauser' magnetometer to aid in the search. The magnetometer will tow behind the boat approximately 20ft off bottom and detect iron-bearing debris or targets. The mag will be used in conjunction with the side scan sonar.

Thurs. 20-Dec -0430 hrs
The Persistence has completed the first day of the side scan sonar search. The search team is very optimistic about the probability of finding Natalee Holloway. The data quality is excellent and the conditions are sufficient to carry out the detailed search.

The first sonar line is generally the most stressful part of the survey. Since the sonar is towed, it is very easy to collide the towfish with an unknown wreck or obstruction. We chose a starting point free of charted obstructions or known wrecks. Once the crew was ready, the side scan sonar was deployed before we reached the search area to provide a long approach to the first line.
Murphy's Law always applies when working offshore. Minutes after deploying the towfish and without warning, an uncharted shipwreck suddenly appears on the sonar screen. Immediately recognizing the danger, I pull in cable as fast as I could to make the side scan climb high in the water column. It's a near-miss. We missed hitting the wreck by just a few feet. After the adrenaline died down, we came around for another pass to better image the wreck. The image below is a snap-shot of the second pass on the approximately 150ft-long unknown wooden wreck.

To illustrate the quality of the sonar system, the following image is a side scan sonar image of an anchor and chain found during this search (Dec-21, 0130 hrs). Notice the links are clearly imaged.

The Holloway family expressed their deepest appreciation to the search effort, TES, and to all who are behind the scenes praying and helping support this project.

If this project has touched your heart and you would like to help in future missing persons projects, please learn more about Texas EquuSearch. It is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization with over 350 members. They are a highly professional, compassionate, and dedicated group of people who have a passion for finding lost persons.
TES and Tim Miller has been directly involved in over 800 investigations with around 260 persons returned to their families alive!
If you would like to make a donation to help find missing persons:
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 10:01 AM 111 comments 
Labels: Natalee Holloway, Natalee Holloway Aruba, Natalee Holloway Blog, Natalie Holloway, Search for Natalee Holloway, Sonar Search
Monday, December 17, 2007
VII. Beginning the Search
Tuesday, 18-Dec - 1500 hrs:
Aruba authorities and prosecutors close the Holloway case and investigation and said they do not have the evidence to charge anyone. Prosecutors said they will reopen the case "if new serious evidence were to be found." The statute of limitations is six years for involuntary manslaughter and 12 years for homicide, they said. Regardless, this announcement WILL NOT affect the search by the Persistence. This announcement comes the day before the search team will begin the side scan sonar survey of the newly-mapped area.

UPDATE: 18-Dec - 1510 hrs: The Persistence has begun the search. Bathymetric survey nearing completion.

Before the side scan sonar can be safely towed, the seafloor must be accurately characterised in terms of its topography. The R/V Persistence comes all-stop once it reached the survey area. A sound velocity profile (SVP) is performed to measure the speed of sound throughout the water column. Normally, performing a SVP in deep water is nothing exciting to write home about. However, without announcement and in unison the crew gathers on the back deck of the Persistence and takes a silent vigil as the sensor disappears into the depths. This SVP feels somehow different than the rest. We continue to watch as the instrument approaches bottom. Once it reaches bottom, it is slowly retrieved. Again, the crew awaits silently watching and waiting for the return of the instrument. Suddenly, out of the deep it takes shape and it breaks the surface. Although unspoken, I believe the crew felt this SVP to be somewhat symbolic of what lies ahead.

Line by line, the Persistence collects bathymetry data from within the search area as if conducting an interrogation. After a while, a picture slowly emerges. With a geologic history dating back to the Late Cretaceous, the seabed resembles an old living creature, full of character and tales. We know this creature will fight to hold onto its secrets. However, the very nature of the seabed merely fortifies our resolution and renews our vigor knowing that every crevice will soon be exposed in the light of a side scan sonar.
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 5:14 PM 39 comments 
Labels: Aruba, Bathymetric Survey, Kyle Kingman, Natalee Holloway, Natalie Holloway, R/V Persistence, Search for Natalee Holloway
Sunday, December 16, 2007
VI. The Arrival
Friday, Nov-30, 2200 hours: The R/V Persistence departs the Port of New Iberia with seven crew members on board, headed to Isla Mujeres Mexico. The seas and wind are calm, and the visibility is excellent.

Tuesday, Dec-04- 1200 hrs: Dockside Isla Mujeras. The tropical waters are calm and the skies are clear. We take on 1,700 gallons of fuel and head out bound for Jamaica in 2-4ft swells.

Thursday, Dec-06 - 1900 hrs: Slowed down to clutch speed due to weather. We took shelter on the west-side (leeward) of Jamaica.

Tuesday, Dec-11 - 1100 hrs: Leaving Jamaica for Aruba. Tropical Storm Olga is quickly moving towards our location. We head out in 7-10ft seas to stay ahead of the coming storm. Wind E 15-20kts.
1900 hrs: The seas quickly build to 10-12 ft swells. We alter our course to avoid heaving rolling due to running in side-seas. Winds NE 20-25kts.

Wed, Dec 12 - 0900 hrs: Seas 8-10ft, in a moderate squall with heavy rain. Wind NE 30-35kts.

Thurs, Dec 13 - 1900 hrs: Seas building at 10-12ft with E wind 25-30kts. Rain is often heavy.

Friday, Dec-14th - 0600 hrs: Seas 12-14 ft with E wind 25-30kts. 121 miles to Aruba

Saturday, Dec-15 - 1615 hrs: ARRIVED at Aruba pilot station. Port Authorities board and the Persistence is cleared for docking.

Sunday, Dec-16 - 1100 hrs: Taking on fresh water. Crew change.

Posted by Kyle Kingman at 12:13 PM 27 comments 
Labels: Aruba, Natalee Holloway, Persistence, R/V Persistence, Search for Natalee Holloway
Friday, December 7, 2007
V. Behind the Effort
Behind the search effort is a team of individuals with a single unified focus and purpose: Find Natalee Holloway.
Perhaps the most common question we receive is "How is this search being supported?"

The answer: The collaboration of a lot of people and numerous companies with the financial support of Louis Schaefer Jr.

The major contributors are as follows (in no particular order):

Tim Miller with Texas EquuSearch

Louis Schaefer Jr. and Tim Trahan
« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 07:05:06 PM by Blonde » Logged

Behind Every Lie is a Clue to the Truth
Monkey All Star Jr.
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Posts: 9603

« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2008, 10:51:20 AM »

Friday, February 29, 2008
XVIII. Sonar Search Complete
Update: Mon 03-March 1345 hrs
With the sonar search completed, the RV Persistence sets sail heading to its home port in Louisiana. With mixed emotions, the search team returns home. When we arrived in Aruba in mid-December we were mentally prepared to return home either having found Natalee, or after having exhausted all possibilities in the quest to find her. It is difficult going home with many questions left unanswered and so many sonar targets remaining to be explored. Our comfort lies in knowledge that we have done the best job we could, that we can return to dive on the remaining targets when funded, and that answers may come in time. We feel that the search is not over but rather entering a new phase. We are thankful for the outpouring of generosity, love, support, and prayers throughout the entire search effort.

Sat 01-March 0915 hrs
Since the 16th of December, off the west coast of Aruba the search team on board the RV Persistence has been combing the sea floor of an area 80% the size of Aruba. The Herculean side scan sonar search is complete. With a complete picture of entire search area's seabed, a final ROV dive target list will be constructed. This list is expected to well-exceed 100 targets. The timing and extent of the remaining ROV dive operations depends on weather, logistics, and funding.
The team is weary, yet filled with a sense of accomplishment. The team has performed very well even under the intense pressure, difficult terrain, rough seas, and often grueling pace.
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 10:22 PM 28 comments 
Labels: Natalee Holloway, Sonar search complete
Friday, February 8, 2008
XVII. Support the Effort
Update: Wed 27-Feb 1245 hrs
Over the past several days, the Persistence has been working with the help of the Aruban police in shallow water. The Police safely escorted boaters out of the area allowing the Persistence to work and maneuver freely.
Fri 22-Feb 1300 hrs

The Persistence is working in shallow waters today. Working in shallow waters is in one sense a relief compared to the deep water areas. The shallower water is protected by the island both in terms of wind and currents. As a result, the area is serene and beautiful. On the other hand, the shallow water area contains its own set of hazards. Closer to shore, passing boats, coral, and underwater obstructions increase the risk of damaging equipment.

Sun 17-Feb 1700 hrs
The decision to not immediately re-arrest Joran van der Sloot has not affected the resolve of the search team. Despite the poor weather, survey operations continue.

Fri 15-Feb 1100 hrs
Over the past few days, progress in the deep water areas has been hampered by 14ft seas and 30kt+ wind. The conditions are simply too rough to work safely. Today, the Persistence headed out to the survey area, completed a single line, and headed back to the dock after getting pounded in the rough conditions.

Special Notice:
The dedicated ocean search for Natalee Holloway has been underway since mid-November, 2007. What began in Louisiana during mobilization now culminating in Aruba, the search has utilized some of the best search equipment and personnel in the world. To date, approximately 900 miles of sonar data has been collected covering a geographic area 80% the size of Aruba. The search has required a painstakingly slow approach which in the end leaves no stone unturned.

Although slow, this approach is extremely effective in marine search and recovery. Since the beginning, the search has been privately funded by Louis Schaefer Jr. of Underwater Expeditions who remarkably and gracefully accepted the financial burden when requested by Texas Equusearch and Natalee's parents. John Silvetti of Marine Surveys, Greg Landry of Offshore Innovative Solutions, Erik McGuire of Seatronics, along with Agiosat and Wilkens Weather Service came beside Louis to conduct this humanitarian effort. To put this search effort in financial perspective, an equivalent search conducted for industry would involve costs well exceeding several million dollars. This project has been conducted for about 35 cents on the dollar, with costs still exceeding a million dollars.

Although we have searched and ruled out an extensive portion of the original planned search area, a substantial portion of the high-probability area yet remains to be explored. Now, following a publicly confirmed admission that Natalee Holloway was disposed at sea, we are confident that completing the focused search area will bring closure. We therefore formally invite and request anyone who this humanitarian effort has touched to get involved and to help support the remaining search efforts. Donations are being handled by Texas Equusearch, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Please come beside those who have already given so much to help ensure a proper funeral in Alabama for Natalee Holloway. Please make all donations marked as: "Holloway search".

To learn more about Texas Equusearch and to help support the search for Natalee Holloway, check out:

Texas EquuSearch Office:
4013 FM 517, Suite B
Dickinson, Texas 77539
P. O. Box 395, Dickinson, Texas 77539

Office: (281) 309-9500
Fax: (281) 534-6719
Toll Free: (877) 270-9500
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 4:44 PM 46 comments 
Labels: Make a donation, Natalee Holloway Search
Friday, February 1, 2008
XVI. Recent Development
Update: Fri 08-Feb 1625 hrs
The weather over the past few days has been steadily prohibitive to work. Each day, the Persistence has left the dock, headed offshore, and gotten pounded by 40kt winds and 10-14ft seas. The rough weather has taken a toll on both the equipment and the crew. The towfish was damaged twice during recovery, each time taking half a day or more to repair. While the poor weather persists, the Persistence will undergo some needed maintenance. Today we are working on the winch and air conditioning. Hopefully tomorrow will be calmer.

Tues 05-Feb 0940 hrs
Over the past couple nights, the world tuned in along with the search team and watched the mottled confessions of Joran van der Sloot. The confessions filled the search team with resolve, renewing our assurance that if Natalee Holloway can be found in the ocean we will find her.
Yesterday (Tues, 04-Feb), the Persistence was in the deepest portion of the survey area battling 12-14ft with occasional 16ft seas with 35kt winds. The weather built rapidly, spawning a squall and water spout.
Today, we returned to deep water encountering 40kt+ winds and heavier seas than yesterday. A simple task such as taking a shower or walking down a corridor takes gymnastic talent. These seas are too rough to safely work in, let alone function inside the boat. On account of the conditions, we moved to shallow quiescent waters and resumed the search.

Fri 01-Feb 1815 hrs
The Persistence search team and crew are very excited about the recent developments announced yesterday, Thursday January 31st. We are currently acquiring data and have not stopped or changed our search methods in response to the announcement. We too wait with anticipation and hope the outcome is both positive and accurate for the remainder of the ongoing investigation.

Our hearts and prayers are with the Holloway and Twitty families.

Press Release:
From The (Aruba) Public Prosecutor’s Office
Date: January 31, 2007

New evidence in the case of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway-
The Office of the Public Prosecutor of Aruba has intensified its investigation of the case of Natalee Holloway due to recently received information. This information may shed a new light on the mode of which Natalee Holloway has died and the method by which her body disappeared.

The Public Prosecutor has lately received this information from the Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. This information may help considerably in the solution of the mystery of Natalee’s disappearance.

In cooperation with the Aruban Police Corps, the Office is currently investigating the reliability and value of this new information. It will be evaluated in relation to the results of the preceding profound research activities. The Aruban Police Corps has continued the investigation of the case despite the formal discontinuation of the prosecution of the suspects of the day, in December 2007. Commissioned investigators are currently charged with further inquiries.

In the interest of the ongoing investigation no further information will be circulated.
Nota bene: the Office of Public Prosecutor will not give any interviews about the matter at hand at this moment, not by telephone, neither on camera.
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 5:11 PM 59 comments 
Labels: Announcement, Natalee Holloway, Search for Natalee Holloway
Sunday, January 27, 2008
XV. Aruba
Update: Thurs 31-Jan 1330 hrs
The Persistence is currently working in the same general area as the last several days. Winds 25 kts with 6-10ft side seas. More later

Thurs 31-Jan 1040 hrs
The last several days saw outstanding progress in what was expected to be the roughest part of the search area. Last night, we learned why the local fishermen nicknamed this area “don’t go there”. The seas were a rather innocuous 2-3ft with pleasant 10kt breeze. Within an hour, the seas exploded into a 12-14ft torrent with 35kt sustained winds. After a few hours battling side seas the search team brought the sonar on deck amidst crashing waves of green water pouring over the back deck. We found an approximately 265ft long wreck lying upright on the seabed which is an eerie testament of this area’s volatile ferocity.

Slant range corrected side scan sonar image of a large wreck

Screan shots by blonde


3D Fly through of NW Aruba and the offshore bathymetry

Tues 29-Jan 1610 hrs

The Persistence left the dock at 0645 hrs this morning returning to survey what has been the roughest portion of the search area. The seas here are reliably 8-12 ft due to convergent water masses, strong stratified shearing currents, and opposing trade winds. Local fishermen have a name for it which roughly translates to "don't go there". For the last couple days we have been working in the heart of "don't go there" in atypically calm 2-3 ft swells. We have never seen it this calm out here. The timing couldn't be better. More later

Sun 27-Jan 2355 hrs
The Persistence left the dock this morning at 0740 hrs. The 15kt winds out of the east lapped up rather tranquil 2-3ft seas. It's as calm as we've ever seen it offshore here. The Aruba Coast Guard boarded the Persistence for a friendly visit at 0810 hrs this morning. For an hour we shared coffee, traded T-shirts, swapped stories, and showed them our progress. They were extremely impressed by the side scan sonar capabilities and 3-D bathymetric imagery. After a round of hearty hand shakes and a few good pictures, they boarded their approximately 30ft long rigid-hull inflatable boat and pushed off from the Persistence. With a smile they shouted to us, “Would you like a little demonstration?” At once, the Coast Guard took off with a sudden blast from two massive inboard engines. In no time the nimble boat was leaping wave to wave at nearly 40kts. Several times the boat came clear out of the water. It was thrilling not only to watch the playful demonstration, but to watch the trust build and friendships form.

Working with the Aruba police dive division, Coast Guard, and Port Authority has been an astonishing experience. Since December 15th we've established a solid working relationship based on openness and trust. Most of the successful rapport was due to getting the media hype out of the way and working together shoulder to shoulder through time. We've helped each other however and whenever we can. They've treated us with decency and respect and we have treated them as friends and allies, which they are. I wish we had a month ahead of the project just to ascertain the relationships and bonds. Although highly skeptical and suspecting in the beginning, it's clear we're all carefully and diligently working towards a common goal. It seems we share the same attitudes of integrity, courage, dedication, and hope. We’ve all struck an accord in the desire for closure and healing for the families involved and restoring the relationship between our beloved countries.
Screen shots of Video By Blonde.


RV Persistence - Courtesy visit from the Aruba Coast Guard 27-Jan 0940 hrs

Posted by Kyle Kingman at 1:46 PM 38 comments 
Labels: Aruba, large wreck, Natalee Holloway, Search for Natalee Holloway
Thursday, January 24, 2008
XIV. The Search Area
Fri 25-Jan 1630 hrs

Early on I was asked the following question by a reader: “do I believe in miracles and are we expecting a miracle to happen”? My response: “I do not have enough faith to be an atheist in times such as these. Perhaps a better question would be: what kind of miracles are we expecting?”
The miracle she referred to was whether we believed we would find Natalee Holloway based on the relative odds and unknowns. The question I returned was perhaps more poignant. How would our lives be changed in the process of finding her in light of the adversity and unknowns? I maintain my position that it is a much larger miracle to have lives and hearts changed than to overcome odds and solve unknowns.
Since the beginning of this search I have been witness to many miracles. I’ve watched loving wives gracefully supporting their husbands while waiting home alone with children for over a month. I’ve seen sons and daughters patiently and cheerfully waiting for their daddies to come home to them. I’ve seen hearts moved and changed to give generously out of love and conviction. I’ve witnessed trust build, bonds form, friendships established, lies replaced with truth, mistakes forgiven, and perhaps the greatest of all and hardest to fathom... genuine loving sacrifice.
While searching offshore Aruba from the shallows to the abyss, we have truly ventured into a new search area. We’ve been exploring the very essence of our human being discovering purpose, hope, strength, and love along the way.

Fri 25-Jan 0950 hrs
The Persistence leaves the dock this morning at 0730 hrs. Working during mainly daylight hours has been a welcome change for the crew and good for moral. The seas and winds have not been as severe lately. The last two days saw excellent progress.

3D Perspective view of bathymetry showing water depth in feet. Black contour interval is 100ft

Special Notice:
By John Silvetti-
The original search area surveyed by the R/V Persistence was selected based on numerous pieces of information provided by Dave Holloway, Tim Miller, investigations, interrogations, depositions and other information from local authorities. After compiling and reviewing the information, the search area was selected by Louis Schaefer and John Silvetti. Upon completion of the sonar runs in this area, 65 ROV dives were performed by Offshore Innovative Solutions (OIS) on targets identified by sonar. Divers from the Aruban Police Diving Division and Underwater Expeditions made several dives and retrieved samples which were delivered for analysis. Several targets in this first survey grid yet remain to be investigated by ROV which will occur in approximately one week when ROV dive operations recommence.

Selection of the next area, the “Extended Search Area”, was based on one single piece of information, a reported confession by one of the three suspects. This confession, as relayed to the survey team, has some credence. It involves the same type of disposal scenario, but better defines the search area. This information in combination with the weather patterns observed by the survey team since our arrival on December 15th left only one boundary to define. The team needed to observe the island from offshore on a small vessel at night to determine this boundary. Sounds easy….huh?

After 2 unsuccessful attempts using a local vessel due to fuel and mechanical problems, the decision was made to utilize the R/V Persistence’s Rescue Boat, the “Avon”. The Avon is a 16’ center console inflatable vessel powered by a 70 hp Tohatsu engine. Prior to dark, the Avon was launched from the Persistence and piloted to the Holiday Inn Pier by Captain Jim Graves. Later that evening, John Silvetti boarded the vessel with Capt. Graves, transited to the start point, and commenced an offshore run documenting the time and vessel position with a WAAS enabled hand-held GPS system. At one mile out, radio communications were confirmed with the Persistence. At six miles out, radio communications were again confirmed along with spot light identification as the Avon crossed astern of the Persistence. It was somewhere shortly after this point that Murphy boarded the Avon!

The weather was very similar to the recorded weather of late May, 2005. The seas were running 4-6’ with swells of 6-8’. It was rough for an Avon! Upon reaching the final destination point while documenting the final position, the engine sputtered and stalled. It never started again! Approximately 30 minutes of effort to restart the engine was fruitless. I believe that is when we noticed that we were taking on water! HELLO HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

As we watched Aruba disappear over the horizon, contemplating our broken engine, a vessel taking on water and the fact that we are about to enact the emergency contingencies of our procedures, Capt. Graves stated, “ I am sure glad that it is so dark!” I took the bait. Why? Because I believe we would be scared to death if we could see how big these waves are! Persistence…Persistence….this is Avon on channel 16 ..over! Silence. Persistence…Persistence….this is Avon on channel 16 ..over! Five minutes of silence. Back up frequency. Persistence…Persistence….this is Avon on channel 09 ..over! Five minutes of silence. VHF comms failure. Ya gotta love Murphy.

Thanks to the support of Coast Guard Curacao, Aruban Port Authority and some unbelievable cell phone coverage, the Persistence plucked us out of the water approximately 16 miles offshore Aruba. We had acquired a tremendous amount of information to determine the last boundary and learned a few lessons:

1) Never use your lower back to absorb the shock of pounding seas when you are fat and out of shape.
2) Never get fat and out of shape.
3) No matter how complete and thorough your safety procedures are, never count Murphy out!

-John Silvetti
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 6:55 AM 27 comments 
Friday, January 18, 2008
XIII. Stay the Course
Wed 23-Jan 1415hrs
The Persistence left the dock at 0700 hrs headed for the survey area. The winch is fixed, skies are clear, and the seas are calmer. The new crew are settled in and getting used the work flow.
More later

Tues 22-Jan 0915 hrs
The Persistence left the dock this morning at 0600 hrs, heading out to deep water. Last night, four replacement survey team members flew in to join the Persistence to relieve crew who has been here since the beginning, over a month ago. Although the new crew brings new energy, losing the battle-proven seasoned crew is bittersweet. Words fail to describe the level of trust and bond between the crew. Despite being in close quarters together since 15-Dec, missing holidays with loved ones, birthdays, anniversaries, rough seas, and many intense situations, NEVER was there a moment of bad tension between any of the crew. I trust the new crew will quickly bond and become seasoned to the terrain and conditions- both above and below the waves.
Happy Birthday sis - You're loved and missed.

Sun 20-Jan 2055 hrs- seas 8-10ft, wind E 30-35kts, continuing dead-heading sonar lines in 800-1100+ft of water.

20-Jan 1515hrs
The Persistence arrived dockside around 4am this morning after a rough night. 1415hrs - The Persistence pulls away from the dock to return to the deep water survey area.

A fundamental principle of Murphy’s Law states that if it can go wrong it will go wrong. When it fails, it will do so at the worst possible moment. This is not a result of chance or bad luck, rather the collision of engineering limitations with physics.
Increasing the water depth increases the length of cable paid out which in turn increases the strain on the winch due to the armored cable weight and drag. With roughly 0.5lb/ft of cable x 4000 ft of cable deployed = about 1 ton of cable dead weight on the winch. Increasing the speed either by towing faster or by adding swift ocean currents vectored in the opposite direction increases drag and therefore adds more strain on the winch. Large sea swells (10ft+) heaves and pitches the boat which pulls and drops the towfish significantly. Particularly large swells can shock-load the winch. This means there is a sudden added force which is unevenly applied to the winch.
Last night’s situation:
2355 hrs: The towfish is near the sea floor with 3500ft of cable out in about 900ft of water. A large submarine hill is rapidly approaching so we began spooling in cable as fast as the winch allows. Combined with the drag-strain of the cable, current speed, and large swells, the winch reached its engineered limits and failed at the worst possible moment. Unable to retrieve cable, the towfish was about to catastrophically collide with the seafloor. The only option was to significantly increase speed and immediately turn towards deeper water. The quick decision paid off as the towfish skimmed over the hill-face. Having narrowly escaped the immediate danger, the Persistence stayed in the deepest water possible while making gentle turns as the team fixed the broken winch. Just after midnight with 12-14ft swells amidst the emergency and with waves washing over the back deck, the crew feverishly repaired the winch. The stellar teamwork, excellent situational awareness, and quick thinking combined to successfully avoid disaster. Once the towfish was safe on the back deck of the Persistence we headed for the dock, wet, tired, and relieved.

Sat 19-Jan 1915 hrs

The Persistence left the dock at 1530 hrs heading back towards the deepest portion of the survey area. The weather has been continually rough and does not look like it will let up this evening or through tonight. Fortunately, we took on fresh water this morning which acts like additional ballast for the boat, reducing some of the roll. While in about 750-800ft of water we came across another unknown wreck. This wreck (perhaps an old schooner) is about 50-55ft long.
1915 hrs - seas building 10-14ft, wind 30+kts.

Unknown wreck approx. 55ft long schooner

Sunset 19-Jan

Rough seas 10-14ft seas 1830 hrs, Sat 19-Jan

Moments later - 1831 hrs, bow is buried beneath a 14ft swell

Fri 18-Jan 2335 hrs
We would like to specifically address one comment left on the blog which likely represents the sentiments of many.
“You guys have been out there for quite a long time now... I was really hoping for results by now. I can't help but begin to think she won't be found” -Overwhelming_Sadness

Quoting John Silvetti- Fri 18-Jan 2300 hrs
“It is easy to lose heart if one confuses expectations with hopes and desires. The nature of a marine search, especially one in which the method and disposition of the item you are searching for is unknown, requires a painstakingly slow and methodical disqualification process. The logic is no different than trying to find your car keys. The methodology is: you look where you were recently. We look where it is believed to be, based on evidence or reports. When you and I do not locate what we are looking for in the most logical place, we move on to the next logical place. Ultimately, we both confirm the old saying, “It is always in the last place you look”.
Unknown topography and terrain, combined with large seas have slowed us down but it has not stopped us. We have surveyed and investigated a large area, disqualified most of it, and moved on to an even larger area. At times our progress has been exceedingly fast and slow at other times. We do however, “STAY THE COURSE”....PERSISTENCE.

Our hopes and desires also were to find Natalee before Christmas so we could help bring closure to the Holloway family as our gift to them. Then, we could return home to our families to enjoy the holiday season and hug our children a little tighter... but, it was not meant to be that easy...and we understand.
–John Silvetti.”
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 10:33 PM 35 comments 
Labels: Natalee Holloway, Persistence, Search for Natalee Holloway, Stay the Course
Thursday, January 17, 2008
XII. Perilous Seas
Update: Fri 18-Jan 2133 hrs
The Persistence pulls away from the dock at 1300 hrs heading northwest into deep water. The seas and winds have greatly diminished through the early morning hours. The crew grabs a few hours rest taking full advantage of the calm waters at the dock.
1655 hrs - the seas build to 6-9ft with the occasional 12ft+. Winds 35kts sustained with stronger gusts.
2130hrs - the seas were building steadily all day. We're forced to dead-head lines running acquisition with the seas at our stern. To maintain heading along the line the captain holds a 37-40 degree crab angle due to swift currents and strong winds.

Thurs 17-Jan 2320 hrs
The Persistence left the dock today at 1224 hrs. The trade winds are howling at 30+kts. The 8ft+ seas are growing and brimming with white caps rolling in from the northeast. The occasional 12-14ft swell rocks the Persistence mercilessly along with its inhabitants. Inside, life goes on as usual and spirits are high. Exceptionally large swells throw around anything that isn't dogged down. The galley clock gets thrown off the wall and is now stuck reading 8:35. It seems we also have high-tech self-clearing shelves, tables, and counters. Traversing around inside the boat is a novelty in high seas. People turn into walking pendulums making Z-shaped paths leaning to and fro 30 degrees. The comedy is abruptly interupted with a sobering reminder of the ocean's peril over the radio.

2100 hrs - A call comes on the radio from the Aruban Port Authority requesting the Persistence assist a vessel in distress. A sailboat named Michelle with 6 reported on board is adrift. In such strong winds and high seas it's possible the sailboat could have broken its mast. All we know is that they need immediate help. The search team picks up the sonar and immediately heads in the reported direction of the distressed vessel. For miles we scan the dark horizon as Curacao, Aruba, and the Persistence carefully monitor the radio. Finally, we receive a position and plot a bearing and range -4.5 miles, heading 210 degrees. After a while, the Aruban port authority once again raises the Persistence on the radio, only this time with a very different position. It seems not only is the Michelle adrift, she is very lost. I can only imagine what kind of hell the people on board are going through. Powerless, drifting, scared, alone, and at the mercy of perilous seas the Michelle hopes and waits for rescue somewhere offshore Curacao. The Persistence is called off its search and turns towards the Port of Aruba at 2300 hrs. Although unspoken, we all feel a sense of disappointment knowing the Michelle is still out there in danger.
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 9:29 PM 10 comments 
Labels: Natalee Holloway, Perilous Seas, Persistence, Search for Natalee Holloway
Saturday, January 12, 2008
XI. The Leviathan Lair
Wed 16-Jan 1700 hrs
The Persistence left the dock at 1345 hrs heading out to the search area. A broken wire delays acquisition for a while until it is properly diagnosed and fixed. 1700 hrs - sonar survey underway.
1830 hrs: seas building 6-8ft with occasional 12+ft.

Side scan sonar image showing rock outcrops inside the Leviathan Lair. Water depth over 1000ft. Towfish cleared rocks by less than 10ft.

Flashback: Sat 12-Jan 2000 hrs
Line by line through the night and day, the captain, navigator and I evade the beast. My eyes are focused and hands steady at the controls as the captain brings the Persistence around on line for one last joust through the Leviathan’s lair. Communication is clear and concise. The teamwork between the operator, navigator and boat captain is crucial to our success. The towfish descends where the sentient beast is waiting and ready. This time, the beast reluctantly submits and the Leviathan retreats to its lair after being bested time and time again. The Persistence claims the victory.

A prolonged operation of any kind at or near their limits often leads to trouble and breakdown. The Persistence has operated under strenuous conditions for over a month without incident, failure, or breakdown of any kind. After the battle with the beast, the Persistence heads to the dock for some needed preventative equipment maintenance and rest for the crew. A couple days rest after nearly a month without ceasing is a welcome break for all.

Sat 12-Jan 1340 hrs
The progress of the past couple nights embolden the search team and fortified our confidence to begin work on the deepest portion of the search area. After the bathymetric survey, a plan of attack was drafted and we set out into the depths. The previous search areas gave us the impression the seabed was a worn, tired, old beast with a relatively subdued attitude and benign character. However, adventuring into the depths brought us straight into the grasp of a much different beast. We found ourselves in the lair of the Leviathan.

Descending into the depths, 3000 ft+ of cable spools off the winch. The Persistence slows as the towfish fades far behind the boat. After a long while, the seabed- smooth and welcoming begins to come into range. We descend further, but proceed with a tense sense of danger. It's suddenly clear the beast was waiting for us with baited breath. The towfish narrowly escapes being devoured, skirting between several massive fang-like rocks. A large curled stony-tongue extrudes beneath the sonar, passing through the beast's jaws. The Persistence quickly fires the throttles forward vaulting the sonar away from the sea floor. Without hesitation, the mighty beast gives chase with surprising agility. Skimming over ancient carbonate spines and a bifurcated tail of current-quarried rock the towfish takes flight, besting the Leviathan.

With the lessons and limits learned from the first pass, we strategically withdraw before moving in for the fight. Line by line, the Leviathan and the Persistence battle all night and through the morning. The beast knows that with one slip the towfish belongs to him. We know that if our assault is flawless, the Leviathan will yield its secrets.
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 11:44 AM 29 comments 
Labels: Aruba, Aruba missing girl, Natalee Holloway, Search for Natalee Holloway, Sonar Search
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
X. Persistence
Fri 12-Jan 1145 hrs
The seas calmed down dramatically since Wednesday. Last night was smooth sailing and saw double the progress of the previous nights.

Thurs 11-Jan 0030 hrs
The bathymetric survey of the new grid is completed. The search area now totals approximately 57 sq miles, compared to the original 22 sq miles.

Maritime map making has long been an integral aspect of ocean exploration. As adventure seeking sea-faring men of old expanded their frontier, master artisans such as Ortelius and Cicero painstakingly plotted their progress. Instead of producing drab plots where form follows function, they used their artistry to produce meaningful navigation aids and passionately capture the spirit of exploration into their product. Areas of the yet-unknown are filled with caricatures of sea monsters and mermaids.

Today, a new generation of maritime map making, perhaps ushered in by Heezen and Tharpe, provides a new look into the abyss. Hand-painted murals with Latin place names are now replaced with computer generated 3D perspective views with satellite imagery. The old merchant ships and frigates that once sailed these waters charting coastlines and reefs claimed by the sea can now be found and mapped. It's an interesting connection between the old and new and we sail the same seas.

Wed 09-Jan 1816 hrs
All Internet connectivity was lost for two days due to rough seas and equipment failure. The old adage "No news is good news" only applies on land. Offshore, the 'Law of the Sea' rules and no news usually just means "lost contact". The seas were 6-8ft with the occasional 12+ft swell. The past two nights were spent conducting a bathymetry-only survey of the new grid. The new grid more than doubles the original search area. If completed, the total area thoroughly searched will be 80% the size of Aruba. Currently, the seas are calm relative to what we've been experiencing. The four digits posted on the echo-sounder is a reminder of the limits being put to the test.

Every body of water near land has its own unique character, temperament, and color. The nature of water is governed by the trio of land, sea, and sky. The sea surface reflects the sky, the water column contains the turbidity from the land, and the seabed stares upward through the water column as long as the water allows it to. However, as the seabed falls away into the abyss, the color is always the same dark navy blue. Staring into these deep and dark waters reminds me that this island is surrounded by the same water that flows throughout our entire world. On the surface, the expanse of the sea divides us. Looking deeper, it is really what connects us all. Perhaps the sea gives a reflection of human nature and not just the sky.

Sun 06-Jan 1635

The seas abated sufficiently to maintain our progress through the night and into the early morning hours. The Persistence arrived dockside around 0430 hrs this morning. Rested and ready, the crew makes ready for departure at 1515 hrs. Now a routine, the crew toss the lines and we depart. Leaving the dock past the behemoth cruise ships reminds me of the opening scene from "Space Balls". Their shear immensity projects an image of being impervious to the seas.
Offshore, the seas are the same as yesterday, 5-8ft with the occasional 10ft swell.

Sat 05-Jan-1610 hrs
The Persistence arrived dockside at 0500 hrs after a long night offshore. A few hours sitting still at the dock is revitalizing for a few of the beleaguered crew. Outside, the winds are unrelenting and whip the sea into angry white caps which crash onto the protective reef skirting the harbor. Even the heartiest seabirds have taken cover. The tourist submersible Atlantis VI cancels its evening tour in lieu of being forced backwards by the driving currents. Inside, the Persistence is bustling with the daily chores of living on board a boat. With a whistle and a rumble, the twin Diesels comes alive without complaint. Once they’re warm, the lines are tossed and we’re off.

Brief squall
Sat 05-Jan- 0025 hrs
The wind and seas have not let up at all throughout day and night. Working in the rough conditions is taking its toll on some of the crew. Regardless, spirits and hope remain high as we push onwards. Working in side-seas proved unrealistic. The last resort is to dead-head straight into the seas without recording and acquire data with the swells moving with the vessel. Although time consuming, at least production is maintained even though it is at half the rate.

Many have confused adventure with inconvenience, trading the provocative for status quo. I believe exploration both in terms of our surroundings and within ourselves is the essence of human spirit. When denied, we're left feeling isolated and unknown. When we have the courage to search these depths, we learn the most about who we are and hopefully a thing or two about each other and our surroundings.

Fri 04-Jan-1557 hrs
The skies are clear and the winds are strong and steady. Wind 25kts gusting 30+. Seas 5-6ft, with the occasional 10ft+ swell. The seas are too rough to run sonar into the seas, so we shift to a different grid with lines running perpendicular to the dominant swells. Working in side-seas produces somewhat cleaner data, but takes a heavy toll on the crew rolling and heaving about inside the boat.

Thurs 03-Jan 2200 hrs
As the Persistence travels through the turquoise Aruban waters to start another day of searching, onlooking swimming seabirds and flying fish curiously come alongside the boat. We worked all day and will continue working through the night. As we work on, we maintain a rhythm yet avoid routine. Over-familiarity risks carelessness and worse, complacency. For any one of us to even momentarily lose our focus opens the door for utter failure. The tremendous progress so far was only made possible with a very strong team, excellent leadership, planning, and prayer. There have been many times when there is nothing to say, times when nothing can be said, and times when words alone cannot describe the situation. We will continue on through the night, until the beckoning glow of the rising sun silhouettes our return to the dock.

Wed 02-Jan- 1920 hrs
The first round of ROV dives are complete.
The Persistence leaves the dock at 0650 hrs. The relentless wind is SE 25-30 kts with 6-8ft swells and 3-4ft wind waves. The two wave forms occasionally add together producing impressive swells which toss around anything that isn’t dogged down. Simple tasks such as taking a shower become complicated and awkward. By now, the search team is well-seasoned to the conditions and terrain. The new grid poses new challenges but provides another chapter to be read. Inch by inch, mile by mile the search continues forward and the data is good.

02-Jan 1830-1900 hrs - At sunset
Posted by Kyle Kingman at 11:01 AM 70 comments 
Labels: Natalee Holloway, Natalee Holloway Aruba, RV Persistence, Search for Natalee Holloway
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2008, 03:41:27 PM »

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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2008, 03:41:52 PM »

Tim Trahan

Is that a girl on the ship on the right?
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2008, 03:42:04 PM »


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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2008, 03:43:49 PM »

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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2008, 03:45:42 PM »


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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2008, 03:46:48 PM »


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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2008, 03:47:08 PM »



source on Edwin
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2008, 03:47:29 PM »


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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2008, 03:47:48 PM »


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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2008, 03:48:05 PM »


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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2008, 03:49:44 PM »


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« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2008, 06:18:55 PM »

Who are these men?

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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2008, 06:20:38 PM »

Quote from: oceanexploration on November 20,2008 at 04:00:07 PM
BTW, this is certainly NOT John Silvetti.  I do not know this man.  He was with the Arubans who came on board for the Dec-30th meeting.
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2008, 06:22:32 PM »

Eduardo, Tim Miller, Tim Trahan

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« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2008, 09:00:55 AM »


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« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2008, 05:32:11 PM »

Posted by Kermit
LaLamom, hopefully this will help clear up. throw out what you think you know and just follow the truth

March 8, 2008 CAPS POSTED - "I hope tomorrow we will have the final links into a final resolution about the pond. This coming week is THE DAY.
Me and J & W and the C's are all in agreement now that it must be there.

J = John Silvetti

grave robbers

Greta van Sustern: "He's lying



Aruba divers arriving. WHY? Where are the American's? Where is Tim Miller? Where is Hodges? Where is Dateline?
Who was in charge - go back and start at the beginning of this post.

1 tennis shoe inside cage

Joran: "She's in the ocean

Look at the distance from shore.

private eye March 20, 2008
Kyle I specifically mentioned the blue denim and the fact that would be the material of which the skirt was made,

Hans Mos
Dolph Richardson
Aruban divers
John Silvetti



Behind Every Lie is a Clue to the Truth
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