NAS Surface Supply Course

The Nautical Archaeology Society want divers to do archaeology and they want good archaeology. Since most things degenerate very quickly out of the water they want quality surveys of undisturbed wreck sites. If you want a good survey you need to teach divers to deliver good surveys so they run courses.

I have done their introduction and Part One courses and have done much of my Part Two for which the last thing I need is my own survey which I am doing with a friend. However there are some very interesting Part Three courses going and surveying on surface supply equipment must be one of them.

The down side of the course is that I believe they only run it once a year and when they do it is in Middlesbrough. It was an eight hour drive. I won't bore you with the tales of staying in a room over the stage in the pub on karioke night, I'll just let you imagine that and get down to the interesting bits.

The course was at the TWI Centre where one part of their business is teaching and examining welding and welding test procedures for underwater welders so they have full kit for thsi including the 6meter deep tank and a full surface supply system and coms desk.

We arrived and were given the obligatory safety brief. We checked all those things you need to know for your risk assessment. Duration of gas supply - eight hours if the pumps fail but forever otherwize, location of nearest recompression chamber - downstairs, surface cover - holding the other end of your umbilical.

Then we got the lecture. Chris Underwood ran over the use of surface supply kit on the Mary Rose Project and then set us our surveying task. The two NAS training blue plastic boats were set in the tank and we were given a run through the kit set up and we were off.
I think I have found my calling in life. I'm a dresser. I'm just the right sort of procedure freak who wants to do everything in order and quickly. It would probably do bad things for my sanity but I worry about stuff like that. I'm definitly not cut out to be the dive supervisor unless I get to write the dive plan. I know these things as we cycled round through the jobs so everybody had a try at everything and we got to take the video from the helmet camera from our dives away with us. The sequence below is Pete and Les dressing me and getting me in the water (pictures by Chris Underwood - thanks). The helmet is a Kirby Morgan SuperLite-17B. SuperLite refers to how much lighter it is than the old Copper dome of the Standard Dress as it is neck-breakingly heavy on the deck but goes neutral in the water.

These are the rest of my pictures. All in all it was a very interesting weekend despite the eight hour drive back, despite kinking my drysuit zip, despite escalating my cold to something requiring copious penicilin. Diving with coms means you can request a review of the dubious measurement that is throwing the site plan out in real time rather than having to brief the next diver down. That must be worth a lot in dive hours. Loosing the ability to swim is strange and the umbilical is a problem - ite isn't positive, it isn't negative but it definitly isn't neutral. It has a mind of its own and it is easy to get the slack caught round things if the tender isn't being careful.

It was a good course. I'm glad I did it. I learnt a lot of things that will be useful outside of the surface supply realm which is where most of my surveying will be done.

The pictures can be accessed by clicking the thumbnail but they tend to be 900K+ files
Pictures by Nigel Hewitt
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