By Stanley A. Miller II of the Journal Sentinel
It's a sunny summer day, Lake Michigan is calm and the S/V Denis Sullivan is getting under way.
But this wasn't a pleasure cruise: Wisconsin's flagship was embarking on one of its many scientific missions, loaded with high-tech equipment, divers, historians and an archaeologist determined to get up close and personal with the SS Milwaukee, a ship that sank in 1929 and now lies below 125 feet of water.
The plan: Shuttle to where the SS Milwaukee rests, dump a remote operated vehicle in the water, shoot video of the wreck and bring the footage back to Discovery World - the Sullivan's home port - for analysis. Sophisticated sonar scans and scuba diving also were on the agenda.
"There is so much history underwater, and we are trying to make it more accessible to the public," said Kevin Cullen, an archaeology associate with Discovery World who organized the expedition. "But most importantly, it's a way for the public to see the past without getting their feet wet.
"These ships are underwater museums."
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The submersible checks out the wheelhouse of the SS Milwaukee, a ferry that sank in 1929 on its way to Grand Haven, Mich., killing 52 people.