In the course of nearly 45 years of diving I have seen many things that have taken my breath away, visited many fascinating places, explored hundreds of fabulous shipwrecks and met so many wonderful people that I can only consider myself incredibly fortunate. In order to share some of these experiences with others I have written two books on exploring shipwrecks—both were intended for divers and non-divers alike and have been enjoyed by many. If you are interested in the subject, please give them a look as I'm sure you will enjoy them!
Two Centuries of Shipwrecks in the Approaches to New York
Upon seeing the first published copy of my first book, Beyond Sportdiving (see below), I was immediately appalled at the reproduction quality of the photographs. The original color slides had been converted (poorly!) to black & white images, and the book itself was printed on a paper quality that just didn't lend itself to good photographic reproduction. After some time had passed, I began to realize that while this was certainly true, the quality of the original photographs was not what it ought to be either. It was then that I took a good two years off any more writing projects and to concentrate solely on my photography. The result formed the beginnings of my second book, Lost Voyages.
One of my primary goals in writing Lost Voyages was to provide both a visual glimpse of the fascinating world of shipwreck exploration to the non-diver, as well as a kind of educational forum to wreck divers as to just what all the pieces of the ships they were seeing really were. While most wreck divers can easily recognize the boilers on an early steamship wreck, often they really don't understand the workings of that steam engine and just what function each of the parts has and how they all work together as a whole. Providing an explanation of this and many other aspects of shipwrecks is what I set out to accomplish, and in so doing found that I had to first educate myself on many, many things in order to properly explain them. In addition, I found that there were many gaps in my photographic files that I needed to fill in order to tell the story of the evolution of ships through the past two centuries, and so set about diving many specific wrecks to fill in these gaps. The resulting volume, Lost Voyages, essentially represents some ten years of my life—I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed bringing it into existence!
From the back cover:
"In the approaches to New York lie the sunken hulks of hundreds of ships of every era and type, providing a time capsule of our nation's maritime heritage."
"Lost Voyages is not only a highly readable adventure story of the sinking of many of these ships, but also an historical account of the evolution of shipping as pictured through these shipwrecks. The author has dived and photographed most of the wrecks described which include wooden warships, coastal schooners, passenger liners, U-boats, WW I warships, torpedoed freighters from WW I and II, rumrunners, and modern victims of collisions. Line drawings of many wrecks as they lie today have been rendered by Sheard, an aerospace engineer. Photographs of the wreckage are keyed to these drawings. Also included is line art tracing the advances in ship construction and propulsion from the days of sail through steam. Pictures of artifacts and ships either before they sank, in the throes of sinking, or while beached are included."
Exploring the Deepwater Shipwrecks of the Atlantic
From the back cover:
"A taboo subject for years, deep wreck diving is finally being openly acknowledged. Branded "thrill seekers", these advanced scuba divers, operating on the finges of their sport, have explored an exciting array of shipwrecks lying beyond the 130-foot sport diving limit. Risking decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis and the unknowns of the deep ocean, these divers have pushed to depths of 200 feet&emdash;and beyond. They have been rewarded with spectacles unseen by the landbound and have had the opportunity to touch the remnants of history."
"Concentrating on shipwrecks lying in the approaches to New York harbor, Beyond Sportdiving takes the reader to a fantastic and surreal world, littered with casualties of war, natural disaster and human failing. From obscure and little-known freighters to the world famous Andrea Doria, Bradley Sheard examines a fascinating assortment of shipwrecks."
- Follow the adventures of the pioneering deep-divers who were the first to explore coastal shipwrecks during the 1960's.
- Explore the famous wreck of the Andrea Doria, the widely acknowledged "Mount Everest" of wreck diving.
- Accompany Kapitanleutnant Hardegen aboard the U-123 as he leads the first attack on US coastal shipping during World War II, sinking the tankers Norness and Coimbra.
- Journey to the twilight world of New York's treacherous "mudhole" to explore lost freighters sunk 200 feet below the surface, a stone's throw from the New Jersey coast.
- Learn the full story behind the identification of the "Bacardi Wreck", and the twisted trail of evidence linking the "Virginia Wreck" to the Norwegian freighter Sommerstad.
"Beyond Sportdiving is a captivating tale of adventure and history, a must for both the wreck diver and armchair adventurer. The author uses his own first-hand knowledge to describe the excitement of exploring the most beautiful and challenging shipwrecks reachable with ordinary scuba gear."
Please note that Beyond Sportdiving is currently out-of-print. There are no current plans for reprinting, however, it can be found on the used book market.
The Discovery of U-550
Randall Peffer and Berkley Publishing: Where Divers Dare: The Hunt for the Last U-boat
Published in 2016, this fantastic book chronicles the hunt for and discovery of the U-550. "In the tradition of Shadow Divers, this is the gripping true account of the search for German U-boat U-550, the last unfound, diveable wreck of a U-boat off the United States coast, and the battle in which it was sunk. On April 16, 1944, the SS Pan Pennsylvania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-550 off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. In return the sub was driven to the surface with depth charges, and then sent to the bottom of the ocean by three destroyer escorts that were guarding the naval convoy. For more than sixty years the location of the U-boat's wreck eluded divers. In 2012, a team found it�the last undiscovered U-boat in dive-able waters off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, more than three hundred feet below the surface. This is the story of their twenty-year quest to find this "Holy Grail" of deep-sea diving and their tenacious efforts to dive on this treacherous wreck�and of the stunning clash at sea that sealed its doom and brought the Battle of the Atlantic to America's doorstep."
All images, text and content Copyright © Bradley Sheard. All rights reserved.