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February 18 , 2010

On the Bottom

The Raising of the Submarine S-51


On September 25, 1925, the S-51 tragically sank to the ocean floor, and Edward Ellsberg was the man whose courage and determination brought it back

The sinking of the submarine S-51 was one of the greatest tragedies in American naval history. Due to a miscommunication and subsequent collision between the sub and a passing steamship on a September night, the S-51, including thirty-three of its crew of thirty-six, sank to the ocean depths. The tragedy of the S-51 captivated the nation, and was a fixture in the pages of American newspapers. The story took on a whole new dimension when the navy decided to take over the salvage of the thousand-ton behemoth from a civilian company.
Heading the crew tasked with this impossible feat was Edward Ellsberg, at the time a lieutenant commander. On the Bottom is Ellsberg’s account of the successes and failures he and his men experienced as they attempted an astonishing feat of engineering and bravery: the first salvage of a submarine from the open ocean.

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