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Operation Deepscan



Operation Deepscan has been by far the largest and most intense search of Loch Ness to attempt to find the proof of the mystery known as the Loch Ness monster.
The newspapers claimed it was "a sonar exploration of Loch Ness, an operation which would sweep the unfathomable depths of the loch from shore to shore and end to end with a curtain through which nothing could escape".

But how did the operation start and what was the results of the plan estimated to cost 1million.
It was the brainchild of Adrian Shine, the leader of the Loch Ness project who teamed up with Darrell Laurence head of Laurence Electronics, Tulsa Oklahoma. He thought Loch Ness would be a good testing site for his sonar units (not to mention the publicity).
So trials started at the loch in October 1986 using ten boats fitted with Laurence X-16 sonar units. The x-16 sonar unit was used because it would record on a paper chart anything seen in the lochs depths.
The units had a range of 1300ft and could target objects as small as 1ft and separate objects just 1in apart.
The boats, which were supplied by Caley Cruises set out from the New Clansman Hotel into the loch and tried to form a line down the loch but bad weather and winds up to force 6 stopped any chance they had to gather information so all they had to show was yards of meaningless sonar readings. Operation Deepscan was therefore cancelled for that year.
It was decided to go ahead with Operation Deepscan the following year.br So on October the 9th 1987 started the largest sonar sweep of any fresh water loch anywhere in the world.
The boats again supplied by caley cruises met at the New Clansman Hotel. As well as the 24 boats that were to take part in the operation every layby for miles around the loch were full of interested spectators and their cars.
Over 250 newspersons and 20 television crews turned up to record the the event for the newspapers and tv stations from all over the world.
Nearly every boat that could be hired was on the loch that morning including a pleasure steamer hired for the media and an helicopter buzzing around the line of boats.
The proceedings started with Adrian Shine talking to everyone taking part, which included volunteers from the Docklands Fund and the Drake Fellowship, through a megaphone asking they do it for

"all the maligned eyewitnesses who look to you for vindication ".

The media loved it and spirits were high for the start of the operation.
The boats edged out into the loch, where they formed a line of 19, all fitted with lowrance X-16 sonar units with other boats following including the New Atlantis fitted with a Simrad scanning sonar which can still be seen on the loch today.
The first problem they encountered was the sonars forming the curtain interfered with each other so the sensitivity had to be turned down to almost minimum or the readings would be indecipherable. This problem solved, the searchers moved down the loch towards Fort Augustus keeping in line using flags set on several of the boats.
On the first day 3 strong sonar contacts were recorded from 78 metres (256ft) to 180 metres (590ft). The best of these was made just off Whitefield opposite Urquhart Bay.
The object entered the the sonar at 174 metres (570ft) and was tracked for 140 seconds. The new atlantis moved forward to try and engage the target with the Simrad scanning sonar but without success.
The position of all three targets was taken using Decca navigation equipment so they could be revisited later.
The boats returned to the New Clansman Hotel and everyone waited with bated breath for the debriefing in the hotel that evening. In the debriefing it was reported that 3 strong sonar contacts were made that day, larger than would be expected from a fresh water loch.
David Steensland of Laurence said that the 78metre (256ft)target might be of a very large known fish but thought that unlikely at that depth. Of the other two targets he said they were very strange and larger than those he picked up from sharks off the coast of Florida.
Darrell Laurence said that all the contacts were larger than a shark but smaller than a whale. Adrian Shine, leader of the Loch Ness project said in his opinion all 3 targets were unlike those which could be expected from the lochs known inhabitants like salmon eels or shoals of char and that they are deep midwater contacts of considerable strength.
  So the first day of the operation ended with great optimism for the following day of the search.
Day 2 started with the 19 boats lined up just north of Fort augustus and the sweep started back down the loch all the way to abriachan. Apart from a couple of indistinct contacts nothing was seen to match the 3 contacts of the previous day.
The media, assembled at the debriefing with hopes of more good contacts, took the no contact news badly. Adrian explained that he had sent 5 boats out that morning to check the sites of the previous days contacts but nothing could be found that could have made them. That proved that they were not fixed objects but moving mid water targets.
It was estimated that the search covered 60% of the total loch area as the sides and bays could not be covered.
The media left the loch some what dismayed that the Loch Ness Monster had not been dragged from the loch for all to see and some reported Operation Deepscan as a flop. Whatever they may say or print the operation was a success. It did record 3 large sonar contacts in the loch of a size too large to be made by anything known to live in the loch.
So what were the 3 contacts which were said to be larger than a shark but smaller than a whale?
I am afraid we will never know anymore about what can be seen on the sonar contacts of October 9th 1987.

But it must be added to the evidence pile for the existence of the Loch Ness monster.



 

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