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A Fantastic Case Study
in Finding a Shipwreck

May 26, 2009
By J. Rudy "Major, USAF"

David Jourdan's "Never Forgotten: the Search and Discovery of Israel's Lost submarine Dakar" is true to its title - it is the story of the search, discovery, and documentation of the wreckage of Israel's submarine loss. For 30 years, the Mediterranean held secret the location of the Dakar, a former World War II vintage British submarine. After refitting in England, the Dakar set sail for Israel. After making thrice-daily communications for ten days, the transmissions abruptly stopped, beginning a mystery that took more than 30 years to solve. Jourdan tells the story of this amazing find.

What began as an agreement between the United States and Israeli navies eventually turned into a commercial venture. Jourdan became involved with the search for the Dakar back in 1998. He shares how his company was hired first as a technical advisor to the United States Navy; and then had to re-compete for a commercial contract to finish the search after the Navy decided to terminate the all-military aspect of the search. His company, Nauticos, specialized in a technique called "RENAV", which uses existing data to extrapolate probable search areas. Fans of the TV series "Numb3rs" would appreciate the real-life case study in the application of mathematical probability theory to identify the likely crash sites in the Mediterranean. Unbelievably, the wreckage was found almost in the middle of the most likely search site. Along with the Dakar, the Nauticos team found a few other amazing shipwrecks, including a multi-millennium old wine delivery that never made it to its final destination. The technical discussions were so fascinating, that the actual discovery of the submarine turned out to be an anti-climactic portion of the book.


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To simply tell the story of exploration would leave out a very important piece of the story. Who were the people who were affected by this tragedy? 68 men perished on that date in January 1968. To those left behind, these were brothers, husbands, and fathers. In the days preceding the near-instantaneous news coverage of CNN, these families were left to wonder what had happened as they anxiously awaited the arrival of the Dakar in Haifa. Using many personal interviews as sources, Jourdan shares the woeful tales of these family members who were left behind.

As an added bonus, Jourdan kept copious notes in his journal of his visit to Israel. His notes provide a very cursory history lesson on many of the Islamic, Christian, and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem.

Up to the final chapter, Jourdan sticks to the hard facts. However, he shares with the reader that many of the family members asked how their loved ones met their fate. Using his experiences as the "dive officer" as a former submariner & drawing on the forensics of the wreckage, Jourdan writes a fictional chapter at the end of the book that provides a realistic vignette describing the last two minutes of the Dakar's fateful voyage. This final chapter rivals any of Clive Cussler's fictional works.

The book was an absolute joy to read. It mixes elements of hard science & mathematics; a business case analysis; and a great human interest story. The book has16 pages of black & white photos which include the sonar contact of the wreckage; and many underwater photographs of the site. I certainly hope Jourdan follows this up with the story of how his company found the Kaga.


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