This Adventure:




    Part 01

    Part 02

    Part 03

    Part 04

    Part 05

    Part 06

    Part 07

    Part 08

    Part 09

    Part 10

    Part 11

    Part 12

    Part 13

    Part 14



    Main Page


Intro/Rant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14


The Same Deep Water as You

The view down the tube: dank, rusty, dark and wet 

Eager as always, Walter was down the ladder in a flash and disappeared from view.  The others had donned their wetsuits and lit out for the silos ahead of us since we wouldn't be diving.  This left us free to explore to our hearts' content.

Our excitement was palpable as we looked about the blast lock where we stood with tunnels leading off in three directions.   There was about seven feet of sand and silt covering the floor, washed in by the waters that flooded the complex.

Blast lock #2: the escape hatch 

One of the tunnels was blocked by heavy steel welded securely in place-- the path to where Titan Creek entered through a section of ruptured tunnel.

The other 2 tunnels were flooded about halfway to a depth of 4.5 feet and led off into the dark.  The echoing sound of dripping water emanated from the tunnels, one leading to launcher #1 and the other to blast lock #1 where it would split off to launchers #2 and #3.  


The escape hatch cover design is quite different from the design used at the Lowry sites.

A strange sound could be heard from the tunnel to launcher #1, very faint and completely alien to my ears-- a quiet rustling perhaps?  No, it didn't sound right, and besides, what the hell would be rustling in there?  Weird.

The walls were pretty bare, just a bit of conduit here and there, no real piping or much else in the way of original features.

The escape tunnel access hatch was completely different from the Lowry sites and looked like a great grasping hand with 5 giant fingers to hold the tunnel securely closed.

Tunnel leading to blast lock #1 flooded to a depth of about 4 and a half feet.

When closed, a hydraulic cylinder rotated a locking ring that securely sealed the shaft to the surface.  It looked like quite a solid design indeed!

The Undersea Adventures folks had built a sort of staging area there in the blast lock consisting of a wooden platform /bench and table where divers could prepare and get suited up.  A few gas lanterns were hanging from conduit as backup lighting.



The actual blast lock leading to launcher #1.  The blast door is missing and the tunnel is flooded of course.



A punctured inflatable raft lay sad and limp at our feet next to a blue kayak-- our primary means of intended locomotion through the watery canals that led to the silos and tunnels beyond.  A single paddle lay nearby, a second paddle could not be found, hmmm.




Looking into the blast lock leading to launcher #1.  The opposite doorway is visible in the back.



After a few photos and readying my gear and doing my best to try and ensure none of it met a watery end in the flooded areas of the complex, we were ready to embark on our watery Titan I adventure.




A view of blast lock #2 showing a makeshift bench and the tunnel leading to the fuel terminal, which as you can see is blocked by heavy steel grating and bars.


We decided to head down the tunnel to launchers #2 and #3 first and moved the rather light kayak to the sandy "beach" near the mouth of the tunnel.

On closer inspection, the kayak did not enclose the rider from the waist down within its plastic body as many do, rather, it sported several vaguely butt-shaped depressions within which 1 to 3 people could sit.  I have since learned this is known simply as a sit-on-top tandem kayak.


Blast lock #2 heading toward blast lock #1 where launchers #2 and #3 are located.


While I clearly know little about kayaks, as I looked at this foamed-filled flotation vehicle, one thing was quite clear: our asses were going to get soaking wet!

The expectation that you will ride over water in a craft such as a kayak without getting all wet is an introduction to folly.  Even so, we thought we could pull it off... that is until we noticed that the kayak was full of holes.


Blast door at the far end of blast lock #2, half submerged in water.  These doors appear far stronger than those installed at the Lowry sites.


By design, the kayak was "vented" having a series of holes that passed through its body to allow water to drain off the top should it get submerged.  Unfortunately it also allows water to well up from below when you get in which totally swamps your ass (as we soon found out) with cold water.  It was suddenly clear that we were going to get wet on this ride.

Carefully we mounted the precarious watercraft (we still had to at least try to keep the cameras dry) one at a time, trying our damnedest not to capsize it.

Blast valve (minus the valve which has been cut away) in the ceiling of blast lock #2.



Walter pushed us off the silty beach near the blast door to launchers #2 and #3.   I did my best to help despite not having a paddle by pushing against the walls and pulling us forward using conduit or anything else I could grab onto.




Our primary methods of locomotion in the flooded tunnels came from a single paddle and pulling ourselves along using conduit mounted overhead.


Actually, poor Walter got stuck with almost all the work of moving us through the water while I took pictures and video.  

Looking back down the tunnel toward blast lock #2 from inside blast lock #1.



We drifted along on the still, clear water though blast lock #2 and emerged into the narrower personnel tunnel beyond.  Save for the sound of the kayak paddle gently splashing in the water, it was completely silent in the dark, rust-flaked tunnels.




The placid waters of the tunnel to launcher area #2 


The water remained surprisingly clear with a pleasant green tint to it as though some sort of lightless variety of algae inhabited the tunnels.

We were continually surprised at the clarity of the water; the bottom of the tunnel was clearly visible in the flooded areas.

There is a slight dog leg of about 15 degrees in each of the tunnels leading to the launchers.


Nearing the bend in the tunnel.  What sights lay beyond?


The calm waters of 568-C.  So tranquil, so peaceful, so rusty...

Succumbing to the Moistness

The tunnel to blast lock #1 stretched on and on as we shattered the perfect, flat plane of water on which we sailed, sending out soft ripples that dashed ahead of us up the tunnel, disappearing into the blackness beyond.

By this time, any hope of staying dry from our asses on down to our feet were soundly dashed as the water leapt up from below and through the holes in our humble craft and filled every dent, depression, crevice and concavity, including the ones in which we were sitting.  The Moistness was upon us and and there was nothing to be done about it, uncomfortable as it was.

Still sailing toward launcher area #2

Before leaving the poisoned agricultural lands of Iowa I had foreseen the need for waterproof footwear and had gone so far as to purchase a brand-new pair of waterproof waders with which to brave the damp depths of the complex.  Sadly, I had neglected to don said waterproof apparel, thus rendering it useless.

What can I say?  It's a long tunnel.  


Furthermore, I had gone through all the trouble of packing the bulky damned things in my luggage (which the TSA gleefully rifled through, and subsequently did a sorry job of re-packing) which I would liken to a small or mid-sized boat anchor which I was cursed to lug about everywhere I went for no good reason.




Nearing the first junction at launcher area #2


Tunnel junction outside propellant terminal #2, located to the right.  Straight ahead leads to silo #2 and equipment terminal #2.

Launcher #2 brought a heightened excitement as I knew we were close to the cribwork!  Rare and hard to get access to, I had been dreaming of the day I would see it firsthand for over a decade.  I had heard it existed at some sites, I had seen some pictures and I had even posted entire sections on this site showing photos of the cribwork, but still, I had yet to see it for myself.  Had I not been soggy from the kayak, I might have broke out in a sweat.

A quick look toward propellant terminal #2 before moving on to silo and equipment terminal #2.

Unable to wait any further, we passed up the propellant terminal and headed for launcher silo #2 where rusty pipe and conduit closed in menacingly as we approached.

Moving on to the silo


Cable tray piled high with foamed glass pipe insulation.


More insulation.  The sheer quantities of this stuff would later become astonishingly clear later that day.


Calming cool green waters as we near the launcher area.

As we sailed silently into the tunnel junction between the silo and equipment terminal, it was clear the water level had gone up, or rather, the tunnel had gone down.  The relative elevations of the various tunnels, terminals and other features varies from one location to another.  The tunnels that usually appear level are in fact sloping upward or downward depending on where you are and which direction you are facing.  This particular length of tunnel had been sloping downward disconcertingly as we neared the tunnel junction.

Launcher area #2, looking toward the equipment terminal entrance.


Not much room to squeeze through the tunnels in this area.  You can see here, the water has reached about 7 feet up the personnel tunnel.  Soon, that would get me into trouble...


Eyeing the tunnels leading into the silo and equipment terminal, it was clear that there was very little room to squeeze through without diving under the water-- something we were not keen to do without a wetsuit.   

We sized up the tunnels as we floated about the junction, trying to see if we could fit through the small gaps.  I stowed my camera gear to prevent inadvertent dunking and held my bag of gear to my chest.



Cable tray descending below the waterline with chunks of discarded insulation floating nearby.


Rounding the corner to the launcher tunnel (at left)


The (deeply) flooded launcher tunnel


Water and rusty cable runs barred our entry to silo #2.  We couldn't get through without wet suits.

Cautiously we approached the silo tunnel, both of us hoping we could slip through the claustrophobic gap, but as we got closer, our optimism took leave of us.

We tried laying flat against the kayak to fit through the opening and slowly edged forward.  "There is no way we're going to fit through there", Walter groaned as a shower of crimson rust flakes rained down on us both forcing our eyes tightly closed as we brushed the top of the tunnel.

After sizing up the tunnel to silo #2, we decided to try our luck with equipment terminal #2 first.

Thwarted and cursing, we backed awkwardly from the tunnel.  We were not getting through there without going under.  The nearby floating corpse of a mouse confirmed I wasn't prepared to do that.  Yuck!

Steel decking and even the wooden guides were still in place beneath the water.  The guides were there to keep equipment carts in the center of the tunnel and lined the sides of the flooring panels.

We decided to try our hands at the equipment terminal which appeared to have a bit more clearance than the silo entrance and Walter steered us over to the opening where once again we laid flat and pulled ourselves forward using whatever rusty bits of metal we could grab.

Making the approach to equipment terminal #2


The low clearance required us to "Limbo" our way into equipment terminal #2 in our soggy kayak.

A tight squeeze, no question, but all in all, we had little trouble getting through the narrow constriction and were soon cavorting (metaphorically of course) about the equipment terminal.

Squeezing through the opening into E.T.#2 past rusty pipes and conduit as we lay flat on our backs with Walter pulling us along.


Level III of E.T.#2: Not much to see here


The last set of steps to the surface


A migratory "pod" of pacific pipe insulation grouper on level III of E.T.#2.  Truly breathtaking and majestic creatures.

There was, unfortunately, not much left to see on the upper levels.  Anything of great interest that might have remained was hidden under the dark depths of the 2 and a half flooded levels that concealed anything I could imagine might be down there.

Peering down into the flooded depths through the open floor access into level II where ghostly shadows dwell.

Ghostly shadows of what could perhaps be some ductwork or piping and something resembling a step ladder...   Spooooky....


Looking back at the metal partitions near the entrance.  A ladder to the next levels up and down is located behind them.


Looking overhead at the pipes and such and getting a small peek into level IV above.


Looking up into the elevator shaft on level IV (sans elevator car, but you can see the cables) where some thoughtless fiend has removed the doors and wall that once prevented an unscheduled descent to levels III, II and I (in rapid succession).


Safety First: Railings are an important part of effective safeguards against falls.  Sometimes...


This is the access plug that leads to the surface.  During construction, this is where all the big, heavy items made their entrance.  This massive concrete and steel cover has large "hooks" that allow it to be hoisted by cranes.  When finished, it was lowered back into position and made a water-tight (hopefully) seal using asphaltic sealant.

These are the no. 1 water leak in most sites as these caps were often replaced haphazardly with no regard to keeping water out of the complex..


Access ladder to level IV of the equipment terminal


Walter and I performing another "Kayak Limbo" as we exit equipment terminal #2, propelled by our hands on the walls of the rusted tunnel, the odd length conduit and other protrusions. 


Still emerging from the birth canal of the flooded access tunnel to equipment terminal #2.


Once again, our attention turned to the beckoning entrance to silo #2.  Maybe we could get in there after all?


Surveying the lime depths of launcher area #2 as we flounder about in the kayak with one paddle.

Back in the tunnel junction, the silo entrance taunted us but we knew there were two more silos and resisted (just barely) the urge to dive under that cold, dark water to see the hidden silo beyond.  The desire was almost consuming and it were it not for the terrible aversion we harbored over the water and its dreadful mystery we might well have.  

As it was, the two other silos beckoned and we turned about, heading back the way we had come with renewed enthusiasm.

Making our way back to silo #2 for another approach.


Approaching the tunnel entrance to silo #2.  We could fit through there couldn't we?  Well, maybe...


Um, no.  We will not fit through there without getting out of the USS Moistbottom and swimming through-- something we weren't prepared to do.


Equipment terminal entrance: heading back to get my camera gear I stashed on the steelwork after being thwarted by the water at silo #2.

Death on the Silo

On the way back, we made what was for me, a fateful stop at the propellant terminal which involved laying flat once more in order to fit through the very small opening of he flooded tunnel.  Once inside, I took some video of the interior, all the while completely unaware of the misfortune which had befallen me.

We were faced by the same tight squeeze as we had seen at silo #2 only just a bit easier to pass through.  As we went to leave, I turned on my camera to take a few more shots and discovered water dripping from it.  Oh dear...

I tried to take a photo, but the usual display and simulated shutter sounds were silent.  I opened the battery compartment and cursed vigorously as I found more water inside.

My camera, it was no more.

It was clear that when I'd ducked under the tunnel opening to enter the propellant terminal, the camera, which was held to my wrist by a flimsy strap, had gotten thoroughly dunked as we entered.

I tried to take a photo but when I looked at the result, this is what I saw:

Oh dear...

I tried my soggy camera again.  Only the faintest hint of the scene could be discerned amidst the murky image that resulted.  I had failed in my duty to protect my camera-- the same camera I had brought back with me from Japan after lying to customs agents about buying it there to sidestep fees.

The vague orange smudge is my lantern

We headed back outside to get some water and warm up a bit before heading to the other 2 launchers and I did my best to let my camera dry out in the sun in hopes of reviving it.

It didn't work.  

Hours later I took the following photo:

After replacing the battery and allowing ample time for the camera to dry in a hot car, the image quality had improved to this less-than-ideal state.

The results were not encouraging.  The flash no longer worked, no doubt having fried itself with its own high voltage charge, and the image had taken on a permanent ghostly fog probably thanks to deposits left on the CCD by the water.  CRAP!!!

I was forced to switch to my smaller, crappier camera for the remainder of the trip, including 568-A-- a whole different Titan I site.  Not good.

The camera was purchased in Den-Den town (aka: Nipponbashi), Osaka's sprawling consumer electronics marketplace and faithfully took over 5000 photos in and around Osaka, Nishinomiya, Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji, and the volcanic wonderland of Beppu on the southern island of Kyushu before meeting this sad end in the waters of 568-C.  It was and is deeply missed.

Alas, Cybershot, we hardly knew ye

After a brief respite topside, we dove back into the compelling and soggy underworld of Larson 568-C leaving my fallen cam-rade behind.  Next stop: Launcher #3.

Tune in soon for the next installment:

Part Nine - Sailing on the seven silos

Intro/Rant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14