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Under the Sea; Anatomy of a Ferry Sinking; Safety During a Boat Sinking

Aired April 17, 2014 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Let's get to John Berman for the five things to know for your new day.

John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kate.

Number one, crews feverishly searching for hundreds of people missing from a capsized ferry off South Korea's coast. At least nine people are dead and families of more than 300 high school students on board are desperate for answers.

Preliminary results show the oil slick in the Flight 370 search is not from a plane. Data from the Bluefin-21 mini sub is being analyzed after it completed its first full search mission over night.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing Kiev of driving the turmoil in Ukraine. He says he doesn't want to use military force, but he says he has the right to. Hours after, three pro-Russian protesters were killed as hundreds stormed the Ukrainian military base.

Pope Francis celebrating Holy Thursday with a mass at the Vatican. He's also marking the day with a ritual symbolizing service and humility, washing the feet of 12 residents of a home for the elderly and disabled.

And at the White House this morning, President Obama welcomes the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride. The annual cycling event aims to help veterans and raise awareness about veterans issues. It's a wonderful cause.

We're always updating the five things you need to know. So go to newdaycnn.com for the very latest.

Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, J.B.

Search crews are look for Flight 370, as you know, and they're also facing an immense challenge with uncharted depths pushing deep sea technology to the limits. Moments ago, CNN correspondent Martin Savidge boarded a manned submarine which was then lowered 50 feet below the surface. He joins us again from that submarine. And with him, submarine and salvage expert Phil Nuytten with Nuytco Research. We should note, that's not the equipment that will be used in the search for 370, but it's for illustration purposes.

And, Martin, first, all I care about is how you're doing, my brother, because I know that being in that - you know, that capsule there with all those guys on the ocean floor for all this time can't be easy. So tell us about that and then tell us why this is an example of what they'll have to deal with in 370.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I will have to say, when I first climbed in this thing yesterday when it was sitting in dry land, I immediately jumped out because there was no way I was going to be able to do this. But actually Phil Nuytten has been great at helping me acclimate. There are times, I will say, that I have about screamed to get out the exit. But I'm doing much better. So, thank you very much for asking. And the reality is, this is such a fantastic opportunity that it's mentally outweighing any of my claustrophobic fears. So, I'm doing fine, thanks very much for asking, Chris.

Let me tell you what we're going to try and do here. We are going to have to maneuver - we're on a slope. And this is very typical, actually.

PHIL NUYTTEN, SUBMARINE AND SALVAGE EXPERT, NUYTCO: Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: You know, that you don't know the terrain you're up against on the bottom.

NUYTTEN: You could be aiming down, you could be flat on the bottom, you could be pointing up. So you never know.

SAVIDGE: So we're going to try and maneuver here and get this submersible forward to where we think is the area of the black box. And I'm going to ask Jeff, who is way back there -- Jeff, if you can, just get the thrusters going, try and push us forward here, and we're going to move - and I have to point out, the other thing is that any time a vessel like this moves, the biggest problem becomes, what, visibility?

NUYTTEN: Yes. A big dust cloud that comes up, that's thrown up by the thrusters. And no matter how you do it, if you're going to be thrusting up, they there's going to be a dust cloud boiling up below you. If you go back, it's going to be in front of you. And if you go forward, you leave it behind for the moment and then the small currents cause the dust cloud to catch up with you.

SAVIDGE: All right. So let's just see if we can get into position. And everything is done with small movements, very carefully, very deliberately. So, yes, please, if you'd be so kind, Jeff, let's try and push us forward here. We've got an uphill slope we're dealing with.

NUYTTEN: Starboard. Starboard. Starboard. Starboard.

SAVIDGE: Essentially Phil's got to give the directions to the pilot in the back.

NUYTTEN: OK. Forward. Forward.

SAVIDGE: You can start to see (INAUDIBLE) maybe. I think you can see there is something orange there, which would be our simulator of the black box. It's a very slow, methodical job. And when you're way down in that kind of pressure -

NUYTTEN: Starboard, Jeff, starboard.

SAVIDGE: It's going to be even more carefully done.

NUYTTEN: OK. Forward. Come ahead. Come ahead. Come ahead. Come ahead. Come ahead. Doing good. On course. A little bit forward. A little bit forward. Good. Good. Forward. Come ahead. Come ahead.

SAVIDGE: We've got a great view here, but, of course, you know, it's dark, so we've got illumination out here.

NUYTTEN: Keep come ahead.

SAVIDGE: The thing that's interesting is that you can't use too much illumination because it actually will blind you. It's like trying to use, you know, really bright lights in the fog.

NUYTTEN: OK. Coming ahead, Jeff, another foot, another food. Coming ahead. Coming ahead.

SAVIDGE: So we're going to continue to hone in on this.

NUYTTEN: Coming ahead.

SAVIDGE: And when you come back to us next time, hopefully we're going to be in a position where we can actually show you retrieval of a black box.

NUYTTEN: Starboard, starboard.

SAVIDGE: But, again, nothing easy -

NUYTTEN: Good. Ahead. Ahead.

SAVIDGE: Even at this simple depth.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: Imagine 15,000 feet.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right, Martin. What tedious work to even move just steps ahead. Martin Savidge. We're going to have more with Martin and Phil live from 50 feet below the surface in just a moment. They're going to show us, as Martin said, how one of these subs goes about picking up a black box. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Let's get straight back to Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver, British Columbia, where CNN's Martin Savidge is in a submarine some 50 feet below the surface and with him submarine and salvage expert Phil Nuytten of Nuytco Research.

Martin, when we left you, you were maneuvering the sub -

SAVIDGE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: To get into a position to try to retrieve a black box.

SAVIDGE: Right. I don't know if you can see that, Kate, just out the window.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

SAVIDGE: And I've got to warn you, we do have battery issues. But there is - there is the black box recorder. Of course, they're orange, despite the namesake. And Phil's going to have to - we are at a real slant here. So that's a real challenge for us. But the goal now, to take the mechanical arm, and he's going to very carefully go ahead, give it a whirl, get it into position.

And again, it's not just like reaching down with your own hand and grabbing. And if he knocks it off that ledge, it could slip away completely. So it's all got to be done with just a very finessed kind of reach. And just give us a sense of what you're doing here, Phil.

NUYTTEN: Well, I'm trying to get the jaws of the manipulator into that bit of a handle on top there.

SAVIDGE: All right, well -

NUYTTEN: And try not to disturb it and slide it down the slope here.

SAVIDGE: Right. So it's this really delicate balance, Kate, of - you know, you want to get in position. The slightest touch of that thing could send it toppling into a depth that then we'd have to go to and look for it again. So he's got to move ever so carefully. He's got to get the claw underneath -- there's actually a handle on that black box. And you can see now we're sliding. So it just really shows you that there is nothing easy, even at this simple depth, of trying to maneuver the sort of equipment. He's got to get it ever so close, you know --

BOLDUAN: And, Martin, while Phil continues to do the work, what -- you were saying that you - you -- the sub itself, you guys are at a pretty extreme slant. That's not helping you either.

SAVIDGE: No, it's not. And, in fact, you know, we can maneuver. We have that ability. But the problem is, every time you maneuver, Kate, you're going to use the thrusters. And when you use the thrusters, of course, like fans, they're going to kick up all the silt that's down on the bottom here. Then you lose visibility. Once that happens, you pretty much have to stop everything and wait for it to clear.

So he's trying to get it into that basket. He's got it up in the air. Steady. Steady.

BOLDUAN: Wow.

SAVIDGE: And there it's - you know, and, I've got to tell you, very much like the real thing here, Kate, watching it happen. And this, of course, is the crucial piece of equipment they need. It's not the only thing they need, but the crucial flight recorder. And you've got to get it into the basket and it only counts in there because then you begin the process of trying to bring it back to the surface. So it is a game of inches and centimeters at great depth. And I've got the tell you, the finesse that Phil needs to use here to try to make this happen.

And, bingo, well done. Well done. All right. So now he's got it in the basket. And now the next step, Phil, would be, once you've got it there, you sort of have to - you -- if you were going to the surface again, you've got to hope it stays or are you going to restrain it in some way?

NUYTTEN: Well, we can keep nudging it, but what we - what we're best off to do is to put the arm on top of it -

SAVIDGE: Yes.

NUYTTEN: And just hold it in during the trip to the surface. So that's what I'll do.

SAVIDGE: All right. Well, I've got to say, well done, well done.

NUYTTEN: So, it's been secured now.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Great job. Really. And then thanks, also, we've got to say, to our skipper in the back -

NUYTTEN: Our pilot (INAUDIBLE).

SAVIDGE: Yes, but we have -

NUYTTEN: Without Jeff -

SAVIDGE: We've made it.

NUYTTEN: Without Jeff we'd be hopeless here.

SAVIDGE: We've made the retrieval. So, so far, so good. Of course the next step would be, you'd have to rise 15,000 feet back to the surface over several hours.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right, Martin. I mean, and what you really show -

NUYTTEN: So we'll keep this in the basket, come up to the surface. You'll see as we come up that, you know, it will get brighter and clearer.

SAVIDGE: I'm sorry, Kate, go ahead. BOLDUAN: No, absolutely. I was just -- we were remarking, as we were seeing this, this is truly a remarkable demonstration of just how tedious the next phase would -- will be when obviously everyone is waiting for the breakthrough of seeing, finding the black box, but it's not a sure thing it's going to be easy then to bring it up some 15,000 feet to the surface.

SAVIDGE: And it's certainly not going to be necessarily just laying out on the bottom of the ocean, which we can talk about something like that another time.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Well, we'll get back to you as much as we can. Martin, thank you very much. This is a remarkable demonstration and a feat of your own strength being down there in such tight quarters. We really appreciate it.

CUOMO: Another time. And one thing Martin has right now is time because he's going to be in that sub on the bottom of that bay for shows throughout the day, giving new meaning to the CNN logo "go there."

We're going to take a little break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, a ship is sinking and there may be hundreds of teens and others trapped inside. We have the latest on the rescue efforts in Korea and the families agonizing onshore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. So how did this ship wind up capsized like this? We're going to take you through exactly what we understand about the situation with help from the Magic Wall here. And we're also going to use retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain Peter Boynton to help us. Captain, good to have you with us.

So here is what we know. The ferry departs. It's two hours late. Why? Fog -- they had visibility issues. But they do take off. And we hear it's otherwise normal. Now, at some point we're looking at the bottom of the ship. Obviously this would be the part below the waterline, this is the vulnerable part, right?

PETER BOYNTON, RETIRED U.S. COAST GUARD CAPTAIN: Yes.

CUOMO: So what happens? Something happens and the ship starts to list dramatically. All right. So Cap, come in on this. What are the two main possibilities, meaning something that happens outside or inside the hull that could cause this?

BOYNTON: Well, the rate at which it developed a list suggests based on other ferry accidents that it could be the result of significant flooding. So, either a breach of the hull which could occur if something struck from outside; it could occur if something happened inside.

The second scenario that we've seen in other ferry accidents is some type of significant system failure or procedural error, leaving doors open, that kind of thing. CUOMO: All right. Let's make sense of that, Cap, for the uninitiated who are watching us right now.

BOYNTON: Sure.

CUOMO: So outside the hull means you hit something. We have the map, the channel chart there -- you know, like the roadmap of where this is going. There doesn't seem to be really any structural problems, even if you go out side the channel either way. Lots of water -- so it couldn't be that.

So how would it be something inside? They don't think it was an explosion. They all felt a bump and a lurch.

BOYNTON: Right.

CUOMO: This ship that ferries people carries cars. So there was a lot of heavy cargo inside, maybe something like that may have happened that caused the jolt. Or the doors that are used to fill up with cars could also be a suggestion of vulnerability. That could have happened. So now Cap, whatever happens, happens.

The question becomes what does the crew do? We're told they tell people stay in place. A ship is listing like this, and then in a short amount of time is really listing and moving towards capsizing. What are you supposed to tell your passengers to do?

BOYNTON: You know, if the list, the heeling -- the leaning over to the side is progressive and rapid, that's a clear indication that you're having a catastrophic loss of stability. And at that point time is short and actions have to be taken.

What we don't know is what was the accessibility of lifesaving gear, what was the degree of egress available and what were people told at that point in time? As the ship heels, imagine now when you get to a 45-degree angle it's as easy to walk on the wall as it is on the floor. As it goes further, you can no longer use the floor.

This is very disorienting within the insides of the ship. At the same time all those vehicles would most likely begin to shift as well. Again, that's cascading damage and further affecting the heel to the side.

CUOMO: And Kevin makes an important point. There are reports that only one of 46 lifeboats were deployed. However, once you get into this angle and certainly this one when it capsizes, you can't deploy life boats because it becomes impractical, just the nature of the physics of it. So they have to obviously just take their own lives in their hands and jump in.

We do know that the captain and a lot of the crew made it off. So how did they make it off when others did not? That will be a question that needs answering.

Now, Cap, that leaves us with where it is now. The ship is capsized. It's turned over. But there is part of it that's still being seen through the surface, the bow part, the underside of the bow. What does that tell us?

BOYNTON: At that point it's upside down. So for anyone who may still be inside, very disorienting. The ship's electricity is out -- there may be some emergency lighting. It's the air pressure that's holding up the ship at that point in time.

CUOMO: But there is air pressure which means there could be pockets. And that's why we're keeping the window of hope open. This being told -- teenagers, a lot of teenagers, hundreds of teenagers being told "Stay in place, don't evacuate, don't jump off." When would that be the right call, when would that be the wrong call? Because it seems like it was the wrong call here, Captain.

BOYNTON: You know, initially when there's an event, it in some circumstances can make sense to have people stand by until there's an assessment of what's gone wrong. Just getting off a ship under good conditions into a small boat can be very, very hazardous. However, the captain and the crew have to make a very rapid assessment. Is this minor damage? Is it safer for people to stay in place or does this have the potential for catastrophic damage. If so, time is urgent and actions must be taken quickly.

And certainly rapid loss of stability and continued heeling of the vessel is an indication that it's a catastrophic problem. As you have noted, if you don't act quickly, you will compromise the ability to use those life boats, you will make egress from the ship more difficult; and as the heel continues, more disorienting for everyone on board.

CUOMO: Captain Boynton, thank you very much. Appreciate you giving us this information -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming upon NEW DAY, "The Good Stuff" goes Chicago-style. An off-duty TSA officer becomes a hero. We're going to show you how. Here is a hint -- it has to do with that University of Illinois sweatshirt.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Time for "The Good Stuff" Chicago-style. Why -- in honor of our series "CHICAGOLAND", that's why. And here's what "The Good Stuff" is. An off duty TSA officer became an unlikely hero. All it took was whole lot of courage and a very bright colored shirt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The young man is really a hero. I don't think I could have stood on the tracks.

EDDIE PALACIOS, TSA OFFICER: A young lady fell. And as soon as she fell, we were trying to stop like I jumped on top of the train just to make sure that they saw me because I had an orange shirt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That's TSA officer Eddie Palacios. So he's the off duty guy in a Chicago Blue Line Station. He sees a woman fall in the tracks right in front of the train. He immediately goes down on the track himself, remembers he's wearing a bright orange "Fighting Illini" orange shirt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALACIOS: When I saw them staggering, I'm thinking we're not going to be able to get out in time. I realized I had an orange hoodie. And I said OK -- I calculated whether the train was coming or not and whether I would make a difference. And I said yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The plan worked, the train saw Eddie and the woman was saved. As with many heroes, Eddie says he isn't one. He didn't even tell anybody about it. It was only when that cell phone video got out that people found out about it. That's why he really is "The Good Stuff". He jumped down onto those tracks -- think about how many people would do that.

BOLDUAN: Good reminder to wear bright colors.

CUOMO: Yes, yes. Everybody should be a Fighting Illini fan -- also the Knicks colors. So there you go.

Tonight be sure to watch CNN's Original Series, "CHICAGOLAND" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 Central.

BOLDUAN: Right. A lot of news today as always so let's hand you off to "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kate. Have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.