Our countdown to the top 10 things you didn't know about the sinking of the Lulu.
10. If the sinking of Lulu appeared seamless, that’s because it was.
“It was flawless,” says David Walter of Reefmaker. “I estimated it would sink in 20 minutes to an hour. It ended up going down in 16 minutes.”
9. No dynamite was harmed in the sinking of the wreck.
“A lot of people who sink boats think they need to blow them up, but that doesn’t work so well,” Walter says. “Ideally, water fills every compartment slowly to flush out every bubble. Do that and it lands upright as planned.”
8. It requires plywood.
“The thing that surprised most people is that we cut holes in the stern, sealed them really well so that all we have to do [at the last minute] is remove plywood.”
7. The sinking plan was the same one Walter always relies on.
Sink the ship’s heavier end first. Then invite water into all compartments equally. If there is air in a fuel tank or other compartment, the ship lands on its side.
“It’s not complicated,” says Walter, “but it’s complicated to adapt the technique to each vessel.”
6. The whirlpool is a myth — so long as you sink a wreck without dynamite.
The threat of a whirlpool originates from a ship’s cargo hold. If there’s a blast, then water is pulled into that open space so quickly that you will get sucked in.
5. The sinking plan included boaters enjoying ringside seats.
When the Navy downs a vessel, they demand a mile of clearance. Due to the controlled nature of the sinking, Lulu needed only 100 feet.
4. The way some people collect cars, David Walter acquires ships.
He bought the Lulu, then named M.V. Yokamu, intending to sell it to a destination in Florida and sink it there. But …
3. Facebook is the reason Alabama is Lulu’s permanent home.
Walter arranged to have Yokamu brought back temporarily to Alabama. A Facebook post announced that it was the largest ship traveling that stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway, prompting thousands to come out and see it pass.
2. It takes a village to sink a ship—or a well-organized community.
When Alabama residents spied Yokamu, the buzz started.
“They started asking, ‘Why don’t we sink this in Alabama?’ and ‘What’s it going to take?'” Walter says. The answer: half a million dollars.
The communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach stepped up, forming a foundation. In six months, they raised the funds.
The result: Lulu is Alabama’s first artificially sunk diving wreck.
1. Yes, there are already fish on the wreck.
“I put a couple bags of dog food on it already to attract the little fish,” says Vince Lucido, president of the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef & Restoration Foundation. It’s a trick he says he borrowed from the spearfishing community.
For more: Visit Reefmaker.
Brooke Morton is the former associate editor of Sport Diver_ magazine and is a frequent contributor to_ Sport_ and its sister publication,_ Scuba Diving_. Visit Brooke's website to read more of her work._