Volume 1, Number 12, Page 2


November 1998


Frank WoodThis month’s TOPSIDE features the Center’s Diving Operations Manager, Lieutenant Commander Frank Wood.

Frank started diving in 1972 at the age of 14, in San Diego, California. By the time he finished high school (in 1975) he was an active sport diver and had a small diving maintenance business. He was certified as a NAUI instructor in 1977 and taught several courses through at community college and several dive shops. Frank attended Orange Coast College, and the California State University at Long Beach in Southern California. He graduated in 1980 and received bachelor of science degrees in marine biology and chemistry. While in college, he was certified as a scientific diver and completed several research projects in Mexico, Southern California and the Marshall Islands.

In 1980, he received an officer’s commission in the NOAA Corps and has served on the NOAA ships DISCOVERER, OCEANOGRAPHER, TOWNSEND CROMWELL, DAVID STARR JORDAN, MILLER FREEMAN and the JOHN N. COBB. When at sea, he served as Divemaster and held several other responsible positions including Commanding Officer of the MILLER FREEMAN and COBB. He has held shore positions with the Pacific Marine Center in the Operations and Program Services Branches. He possess a U.S. Coast Guard Chief Mates Unlimited licenses and various other Master’s licensees.

Frank has been involved with NOAA diving since 1981. His assignments with the Dive Program were as a Unit Diving Supervisor (1983-86, 89-91), Executive Officer (1989 – 91), Operations Manager and Fleet Diving Officer (1996 – present). He was certified as an EMT and DMT in 1983 and in 1985 attended the U.S. Navy Salvage Diving Officer School in Panama City, Florida, where he was certified as a Navy air and mixed gas salvage diver. He received certification as a NOAA Master Diver in 1996. Frank has been a NOAA Diving instructor since 1983 and has participated in over 30 diver training courses. He has completed several Dive Program operations which involved submersible work, polluted water diving techniques, search and rescue operations, ice diving, trawl diving and various other operations throughout both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.End of article


While the NOAA team was conducting self-contained (scuba) diving operations on the Monitor from the stern of the MV Kellie Chouest, the US Navy team performed surface-supplied diving operations off the vessel’s port side. The following compares the two types of diving operations performed during Phase I of the expedition:

Breathing Gas (Travel Mix):
NOAA – Trimix consisting of 18% oxygen, 50% helium, and 32% nitrogen (surface to bottom on descent then bottom to 110 fsw on ascent)
USN – Air from surface to 20 fsw

Breathing Gas (Bottom Mix):
NOAA – Trimix consisting of 18% oxygen, 50% helium, and 32% nitrogen
USN – Heliox consisting of 14% oxygen and 86% (20 fsw to bottom then bottom to 100 fsw).

Breathing Gas (Intermediate Decompression):
NOAA - Nitrox II consisting of 36% oxygen and 64% nitrogen (110 fsw to 20 fsw)
USN – Nitrox consisting of 40% oxygen and 60% nitrogen (100 fsw to 50 fsw)

Breathing Gas (Shallow Decompression):
NOAA – 100% medical-grade oxygen (20 fsw & 10 fsw)
USN – 100% medical-grade oxygen (50 fsw & 40 fsw).

Life-support Equipment:
NOAA – Twin 100 ft 3 (or larger) cylinders of trimix, single 80 ft 3 cylinder of Nitrox, and single 72 ft3 cylinder of oxygen. Two independent regulators on trimix cylinders and one each for nitrox and oxygen cylinders. Wet or dry suits.
USN – MK 21 (Superlite) helmet with single 80 ft3 cylinder of HeO2 as bailout. Hot-water suits.

Type of Decompression:
NOAA – In-water staged
USN – In-water staged with surface decompression after 40 foot stop.

Decompression Tables
NOAA - Trimix I
USN – US Navy HeO2

Number of divers per dive to wreck:
NOAA – Varied according to task; from 2 to 8
USN – 2 divers/dive

Bottom time per dive to wreck:
NOAA – Varied from 15 – 40 mins
USN – Varied; maximum 40 minsEnd of article

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