Where was Paterson filmed

Three miles deep

In the "Seascapes" and also in the novel "Water Games" about life on a small Philippine island, Hamilton-Paterson presents himself as an observer, as an author who adheres to Picasso's bon mot: "I don't invent, I think. "Like his alter ego John Prideaux in the novel" The Spirits of Manila ", he is a doubter, a skeptic and a man who wants to live as far away from his origins as possible. That explains his love for the sea. "I had an upbringing that most people would consider privileged," said Hamilton-Paterson. "My parents were doctors and belonged to the bourgeoisie. I started public school when I was eight. From there my route led directly to Oxford University, where I ended up at twenty-one, twenty-two. After I got that over with, I hit I was a prisoner of private schools for ten or twelve years. After that, I was fed up with British culture, I felt enough is enough. I had my first job abroad, in Libya, in Tripoli. I was a teacher in a secondary school for a year just before Ghaddafi came. I was completely enchanted with the place. I was really infatuated - not with the feeling of traveling, but with living abroad, with the infinite number of opportunities that offered themselves to me without having to be British. That was a great liberation for me, and I've been since then never lost that feeling again, to put it pretentiously, that feeling of being a citizen of the world. Since then, I've seen no need to go back to my old roots. "

His passion for the world and the sea virtually forbade Hamilton-Paterson to say no when asked in October 1994 whether he wanted to take part as an observing guest on a diving expedition into the Atlantic deep sea. Even the title of his report breathes the fascination of having reached a point in the world that hardly anyone will aim for before or after him: "Three miles deep". The expedition was carried out under extremely strange conditions. The mother ship, the "Akademik Keldysch", from which the deep-sea submersible boats MIR I and MIR II started, is one of the best research vessels in the former Soviet Union. The crew had already accompanied the underwater filming of James Cameron's Titanic film, but what was in store for them in the spring of 1995 turned out to be even more unreasonable. Hamilton-Paterson: "The excuse for this trip was: A small British company had been founded to salvage gold from two ships that had sunk off the coast of Africa during World War II. One was a submarine, the others a troop transporter. This small company had rented the Russian research vessel Keldysch with its special submersibles. After 1990 these scientists had to hire themselves out to commercial treasure hunters. For me it was incredibly exciting to observe these 94 first-class scientists who had traveled and researched together for years how they suddenly found themselves at the mercy of ordinary capitalists. They used to stand at the piers of Kaliningrad, where they are stationed, and order: fill the tanks. Now they had to negotiate with the local mafia to get even the fuel off with which they could go to England. And so those high-ranking scientists who would have preferred to study submarine volcanoes got pretty desperate about those stupid British treasure hunters they had to waste their time on. "

Not only in conversation, but also in his book, Hamilton-Paterson holds back respectfully, and one can only guess at the satirical moments that resulted from the collision of these two worlds. Hamilton-Paterson's description becomes grandiose when his childhood dream comes true: although he is neither a treasure hunter nor a scientist, he is allowed to descend in the submersible to the seabed, three miles deep. How do you feel when you step into a tiny sphere that will sink three miles through the darkness? "It was a very strange sensation. You know, before we went diving, we got very precise instructions. It was a Russian ship that was deployed on one of those submarines that were used to film the Titanic. Everyone knows it was in the Indeed, it is extremely dangerous to dive at this depth. You are not connected to the ship. These submarines are completely independent. They resemble helicopters and hover over the bottom of the sea like helicopters. Everyone is excited, trying to foresee the dangers. There is such a thing many possibilities to fail. The pressure is so strong that even the smallest material weaknesses mean catastrophe. The trip took three hours down and three hours up, we stayed down about twelve hours, so it took 17-18 hours in total. The pressure chamber itself is spherical and two meters in diameter the diving record set by the American Beebee in the 1930s - half a mile deep - the same balls made of titanium steel are always used. The three of us were squeezed into this little steel ball. The other two were Russians, both scientists and experienced deep-sea pilots. After the first minute, I was completely bewitched when I looked through the hatch. I had read and loved Beebee's review of his dive trips as a child. I was very moved to see what he had seen. That's what I wanted from childhood. And going beyond that point, deeper and deeper, six times as deep as the half mile that Beebee had reached, was deeply moving. When we got to the bottom and the outside lights came on, and I saw for the first time what no human eye apart from me could see, especially not in this place and at this depth - so deep in the ocean there were fewer people than in space - I felt very privileged on this planet. "

That privilege is over now. The diving boats of the Akademik Keldysh are now used in the commercial cruise business to wreck the Titanic - and the first gold has also been recovered from the sunken ships that the adventurers searched in vain in 1995. But that makes Hamilton-Paterson's report even more unique.