TOPSIDE

Volume 1, Number 9, Page 2

 

August 1998

MONITOR MISSION (PART II)

The first order of business was to get all NOAA and NURC-UNCW personnel trained in technical trimix diving techniques and procedures. Two individuals, John Broadwater (MNMS) and Doug Kesling (NURC/UNCW), were already certified trimix divers but participated in the training as a refresher. All members of the Cambrian Foundation were certified trimix divers with the exception of Julie Kaye who participated in the training program with the NOAA and NURC/UNCW divers. Training took place in Key Largo, Florida, from March 16 – 22, 1998, and was conducted by Terrence Tysall and John Selser, both IANTD Trimix Instructors and members of the Cambrian Foundation. The seven-day course consisted of classroom lectures on various aspects of technical trimix diving including: physics, physiology, decompression options, equipment selection and set-up, dive tables, and dive planning and procedures. Initial equipment familiarization and skill development were conducted in a local swimming pool and confined, open-water (local turning basin) area. During these training sessions, students practiced both normal and emergency skills designed to instill confidence in themselves and their equipment. Exercises included: buddy breathing, switching between primary and secondary regulators and between bottom-gas (trimix) and decompression (oxygen and nitrox) gas supplies, navigating in zero visibility, removing and replacing stage bottles, deploying and using lift bags and up-lines, and controlling buoyancy.

 

The R/V Sabina, provided by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, was used as the dive platform for both the confined- and open-water portions of the course. Poor weather, however, limited the number of offshore dives conducted and the team was only able to complete two deeper air dives (approximately 130 feet). The dives did allowed the students to practice staged decompression on a fixed down-line and in a free-floating mode in moderate current and sea conditions. Because of the limited number of dives performed the students did not complete the requirements for IANTD Trimix certification. Fortunately, additional “pre-mission” training dives were scheduled to be conducted the week prior to the start of the mission with anticipation that all remaining certification requirements would be completed at that time. Course participants were encouraged to continue using their technical equipment whenever diving to maintain proficiency and gain further experience with the gear prior to the work-up dives in Cape Hatteras in June.

While waiting to conduct training dives due to the inclement weather, representatives from each organization involved in the project, plus Mr. Billy Deans, a member of the NOAA Diving Technical Advisory Committee, met to finalize the 1998 Monitor Expedition Operations Plan. Specific details concerning dive procedures and equipment requirements were discussed and agreed upon by the group and included in the final version. The Plan was completed one week later by John Broadwater, et al, and submitted to the NDSB for approval.End of article

Photograph of the Monitor Dive team aboard the UNCW research vessel CAPE FEAR at the conclusion of the mission. Dive team members were from NOAA, NURC/UNCW and the Cambrian Foundation. Monitor Dive Team aboard Cape Fear


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