Bringing up the past: Utah divers bring up a revolutionary war ship

Published: Saturday, Nov. 13 2010 11:00 p.m. MST

On the day the Deseret News visited the Midvale office, Blum and his colleagues were discussing the pros and cons of very different jobs in two parts of the Middle East. The work can take them anywhere.

"Not very many people do what we do," says Blum. "It's not like Hollywood."

But it does have some of the drama and excitement of a movie. There's something "spectacular" and otherworldly, he says, in underwater recovery. Not long ago, he and Kerri were under the hull and found a copper wash basin from the captain's cupboard. They know precisely who it belonged to. As he touches bits and pieces of long lost possessions of someone now long dead, he wonders about that particular person "and about what the object meant to them."

They've hauled up Revolutionary War grenades — hollowed out cannon balls that had been filled with gun powder — and a jacking bar and musket balls and pottery chards and ...

Most often, they can't tell what they've got until it's on deck and they can inspect it. On Blum's last dive, they found a heavy piece of brass — about 65 pounds — that looked like junk. It proved to be a blunderbuss, a 17th century rail gun. Time, sand and sea life may weld two or three things together in an unwieldy disguise; you have to peel away the layers to see what you have. It's part of the fun.

On the ocean floor, Blum says he learned not to set things down. In your house, it's a mess. Set it back down on the ocean floor, though, and it may simply disappear forever.

Humanitarian work is another endeavor for the company when it's in the Dominican Republic. The Deep Blue crew have provided more than 18,000 pounds of rice and beans to the islanders, along with more than 5,000 pounds of clothing. Such helping hands are made possible by gifts from the Salt Lake community. Deep Blue Marine also boosts the Dominican economy by hiring locals.

One of the things they like best, adds Blum, is showing school kids the fruits of their labors. They love to visit classrooms to show off what they've found.

"Getting to know the ocean is a lifelong pursuit; to know it you have to spend years on it, you have to taste it, you have to be held in its liquid iron grip," says Blum.

You can see more images and find contact information online at alldeepblue.com.

e-mail: lois@desnews.com, Kcox@desnews.com Twitter: loisco

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