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by Jack Niedenthal

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe Online, June 16) - Evergreen Films, on behalf of the Discovery Channel, completed their film project on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands during the week of June 9 to 16, 2004.

The film will feature Dennis Haysbert, who is the star of the popular television show on Fox Network, "24," where he plays the first black President of the United States. Haysbert is the first movie star ever to visit and dive Bikini Atoll. About Bikini Haysbert said, "I saw sites that I will remember the rest of my life, and met the most amazing people: the Bikinians themselves. I had a wonderful time."

Under the direction of Pierre De Lespinois, world renowned underwater cinema photographers Howard Hall and Bob Cranston filmed the action at depths of up to 170 feet on the USS Saratoga and the HIJMS Nagato with the help of the Bikini Atoll Divers team led by head divemaster Tim Williams and assistant divemaster Jim Akroyd.

Said De Lespinois about his experience on Bikini, "Not only was the diving unbelievable and the wrecks beyond description, the Bikini Atoll Divers team members were some of the most professional and skilled that I've encountered in the diving world."

The show will also feature scenes from the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, which is rarely dived upon. The team had to receive special permission from the US Park Service to perform these dives. The hour-long show should air around December of 2004, or possibly early next year.

During the shoot Dennis Haysbert broke the record for the deepest dive with a "movie mask," which is a scuba mask that allows you to breathe and talk during a dive. He broke the record by going to 165 feet below the HIJMS Nagato, which is a Japanese battleship that sits upside down on the bottom of Bikini's lagoon and was the floating fortress for Admiral Yamamoto during World War II. The Nagato was sunk by a nuclear blast on Bikini in 1946. The previous record for wearing a movie mask underwater was 100 feet.

The risk of diving too deep with a movie mask on is the potentially dangerous build-up of carbon dioxide. Expert diver Peter Kragh and Bikini divemaster Jon Salas assisted actor Haysbert throughout the week during his dives on the Saratoga and the Nagato.

June 17, 2004

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