2017 JS Diving Incident Reports

The table below contains a sanitised version (no names or units!) of the service diving incidents that have been received by JSSADC in 2017.

17/58Two divers were ascending under a DSMB alongside a shot line. Whilst carrying out a safety stop at 6m, a large group of divers came past and used both the shot and DSMB line to carry on up to the surface.

This caused one diver to loose control of his buoyancy and ascend to the surface after only 1 of the 3 minutes. The second diver completed the full safety stop and they were reunited on the surface.

The first diver felt that they may have ingested some water and had a slight cough. They did not dive for 24 hrs and were closely monitored as a precaution but no further symptoms were observed.
Beware of other divers who may not follow accepted etiquette.

It is also recommended that safety stops should be cut short in the event of a separation.
17/57During a no deco dive to 30m, a diver noticed that their computer display was corrupt. The dive was aborted and the computer fail plan of 3 mins at 6m completed with depth and time information provided by a secondary means (d-timer).

Subsequently the computer was found to have flooded.

The diver completed 24 hrs on the surface before resuming diving using a computer that had also spent 24hrs clear.
Electronics do fail. be prepared!
17/56On the last dive of an Ocean Diver course the rescue diver was carrying the SMB and got it entangled round the shot. Whilst they were struggling to untangle the SMB the instructor continued the descent only noticing that the rescue diver was missing when they reached 15m.

All divers returned to the surface and were reunited.
17/55Whilst conducting a 35m depth progression for a Sports Diver, their buddy noted that the diver had become unconscious at approximately 30m. The buddy carried out a controlled buoyant lift and recovered the Sports Diver to the surface making everyone positively buoyant.

The casualty recovered consciousness at the surface and both divers made a surface swim back towards the shore. Concurrently the SADS had dispatched two surface swimmers who assisted. The casualty had no recollection of the incident

Assistance was sought from the DDMO who directed that neither diver should complete any further dives for the remaining day of the expedition.

All equipment was quarantined for inspection on return
BZ to the buddy!
17/54At 6m on the descent for a planned depth of 17m a diver was unable to clear their ears. The dive was aborted and the pair returned to the surface.

The diver attended the medical centre where a minor barotrauma was diagnosed. After 72 hours of no diving and following another medical inspection the diver was cleared to dive again
17/53Following a dive to 11m which included a training CBL, a diver reported pain in their ear. After 24hrs it was still painful so they reported to the medical centre where the doctor diagnosed barotrauma.
17/52A diver experienced problems clearing their ears during a 20 min shakeout dive to 6m but managed to complete the dive. Later that day a second dive was also conducted without problems.

At the end of the day the diver reported that they were still experiencing ear problems and were sent to for medical examination. This identified a perforated ear drum.
17/51A diver on a CCR course was unable to control their buoyancy during a bailout ascent and drifted to the surface. The diver's buddies confirmed that the ascent wasn't rapid and the diver's computer showed a maximum ascent rate of 8m/min.
17/50Whilst conducting bailout ascent training on a CCR refresher course, a diver drifted to the surface. The diver's buddies confirmed that the ascent wasn't rapid nor was there any indication of a rapid ascent on the diver's computer.
17/49During a PRM scenario on a hard boat, a diver trapped their finger in between the lift platform and its frame. As the boat rolled the platform moved resulting in it being crushed.

The diver was given first aid and evacuated back to medical attention where it was confirmed that there was no serious injury.
'Normal' injuries can also occur whilst diving!
17/48A diver lost control of their buoyancy at 8m following a dive to 27m and made a rapid ascent to the surface. The diver was placed on oxygen and neurological checks carried out whilst the DDMO was contacted.

The DDMO recommended a further 10 mins of oxygen therapy during which no symptoms of DCI manifested themselves. The diver was taken to the medical centre and following a check up was given the all clear by the DDMO to dive the following day.
17/47Four minutes into a dive, a diver experienced problems equalising their ears at a depth of 7m. The dive was aborted and, after attending the medical centre, the diver was instructed not to dive for 2 weeks.
17/46On the return home from a six day expedition, a diver started to experience pain in their ear and lost hearing. They attended A&E where an ear infection was diagnosed.
17/45As they completed a dive to 19m, a diver's ascent rate started to increase without them noticing until they breached the surface at a rapid rate. Their diving computer indicated a rapid ascent and that an extended surface interval should be conducted before diving again.After a rapid ascent, best practise is to seek advice from the DDMO.
17/44Following a dive to 10m a diver surfaced feeling dizzy and faint. They believed themselves to be dehydrated with a touch of sunstroke.

The SADS contacted the DDMO who advised rest for the remainder of the overseas expedition.
17/43One the descent to 27m a diver was stung on the lips by a jellyfish. They felt able to continue the diver which lasted 36mins.

On surfacing the diver felt intermittent tingling across their body. The DDMO advised to wait for 2 hrs to see if symptoms improved which they did not. This was followed by a 30 min treatment with 100% oxygen which also did not improve the symptoms.

The DDMO then recommended hyperbaric recompression. During this process the symptoms gradually subsided.

The doctor diagnosed an allergic reaction to the jellyfish sting.
17/42During Ocean Diver training a diver had experienced difficulties clearing their ears and on one occasion had been forced to abort a dive. During a continuation dive planned for 20m the diver was unable to clear their ears and experienced pain below 6m. The dive was aborted.

After surfacing the diver indicated that they had been feeling unbalanced underwater and had suffered pain in their ear and behind the eye. The DDMO was contacted and advised use of decongestant which cleared the problem.
17/41Three divers were carrying out a planned decompression dive to 35m on an underwater wall. As they were ascending up the wall the diver with the SMB began to be pulled away from the wall by the current. One of the divers went with him whilst the other became separated.

All divers carried out a 30 second search for the missing diver(s) and then carried out mandatory decompression before surfacing.
Trio diving increases the risk of separation particularly under challenging conditions.
17/40On the last dive of an ocean diver course to 20m, the underwater visibility proved poor so the instructor decided to abort the dive. The rescue diver became separated and during the ascent one of the trainees lost control of their buoyancy at about 10m.

Concurrently the rescue diver attempted to deploy their DSMB and also lost control of their buoyancy at about 12m.

Both divers were asymptomatic but due to the rapid ascents the SADS commenced oxygen treatment. The DDMO was contacted and advised that they be assessed by a doctor. There was no doctor available at the nearest military unit so they were taken by ambulance to the local hospital.

Following a further 90 mins of oxygen treatment and an assessment by a doctor they were discharged. .
All divers in this incident were relatively inexperienced which, combined with poor conditions, may have been a significant factor in this incident.

Throught this incident the "casualties" were kept on oxygen which demonstrates the importance of having sufficient for this sort of situation.
17/39Whilst conducting a BAR check, a diver found that their DV was purging each time a breath was taken.

The DV was isolated but subsequent investigation could not find a fault.
17/38During the ascent from a diver recall training scenario a diver who had recently been trained to use a dry suit became inverted at approx 4m. Whilst carrying out the recovery drill the diver became entangled in their DSMB line and ascended to the surface inverted. Once on the surface they righted and untangled themselves.

17/37During a training scenario two divers called for gas on a decompression stop at 6m. The drop tank was lowered to them on a 9m line. Whilst lifting the drop tank from 9 to 6m one of the divers was briefly entangled and then lost control of their buoyancy causing them to ascend to the surface. Fortunately all mandatory decompression had been completed

The diver was recovered to the boat and placed on oxygen whilst the DDMO was contacted. He advised a normal recovery to base with regular neurological checks and then a checkup from a doctor.

Concurrently the second diver made a normal ascent.

No DCI symptoms were observed and the diver was given the all clear to dive the next day.
17/36At the end of a dive to 31m, a diver inflated a DSMB using his alternate source regulator which went into free flow which could not be stopped. The diver bailed out to their pony and started to ascend at which point they lost sight of their buddy. The safety stop was omitted and the diver returned safely to the surface.

Meanwhile the buddy carried out separation drills and ascended safely under their own DSMB carrying out a safety stop They arrived on the surface approximately 10 mins after the first diver and were then reunited back on the boat.

The SADS checked the first diver's computer which was not indicating a rapid ascent even though the total ascent time from 31m was approx 1 min 40 secs which exceeds the recommended ascent rate. The diver was removed from the programme, told to drink plenty of fluids and closely monitored for the rest of the day.
In cases of separation, consider missing out on safety stops to minimise the amount of time diving solo.

If a rapid or buoyant ascent is suspected then consider making a precautionary call to the DDMO.
17/35A pair of divers descended onto a 30m wreck and encountered a much stronger tide than expected. They deployed a DSMB to indicate that they intended to drift away from the site. Unfortunately this got wrapped round the shot line so was abandoned. A second DSMB was deployed.

Shortly afterwards a diver arrived at the surface having made a rapid ascent after ditching their weightbelt. They gave a distress signal and were recovered to the boat.
They were placed on oxygen and attempts were made to contact the DDMO which were unsuccessful due to no mobile phone signal. A pan pan call was successfully made to the coastguard.

Concurrently the second diver surfaced and was recovered to the boat.

The diver who had made the rapid ascent was evacuated to a RCC where they received a precautionary treatment.
As a SADS it is always useful to have multiple means of contacting the emergency services.

Ditching a weightbelt is an extremely effective way for a diver to become positively buoyant. The inevitable subsequent rapid ascent carries considerable risk so this should only be carried out in extremis.
17/34On the last dive of an ocean diver course a rescue diver mistook one group of divers for the group he should have been with. The group the diver joined was a three (only one student) and all were dressed in similar equipment to the group with which they started.

The initial group realised that their rescue diver was missing and aborted the dive. The second group had started to prepare for ascent so the rescue diver ascended with them and all divers were recovered safely to the boats.
It is easy to see how this situation could occur in these circumstances. Rescue divers and instructors need to be especially vigilant when other groups are in the vicinity.
17/33Whilst on an overseas expedition a Sports diver conducted a series of dives where they normally surfaced with 110-150 bar in a 12 litre cylinder. Although the dives were relatively long, this low air consumption was attributed to excellent buoyancy and warm water conditions.

Shortly before commencing the ascent from a 43min dive to 24m, the diver signalled to their buddy that they had 150 bar. Whilst conducting a safety stop at 6m, the contents gauge suddenly dropped to 20 bar for no obvious reason.

Once safely back on the boat, other gauges were used to confirm that the cylinder did only have 20 bar left.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the diver's contents gauge would get stuck between 110-150 bar. At this point another diver indicated that their contents gauge would also get stuck at approx 90 bar but then moved once tapped.

Both problematic contents gauges were from the same manufacturer and supplied from the ATG(A) pool at Bicester. All gauges from the manufacturer at Bicester have now been quarantined and are in the process of being checked.
This incident highlights the importance of analysing information provided by divers. It is also important that divers highlight when they have problems with equipment.

The rapid response of the loan pool at Bicester to identification of a problem is also notable. Please let them know if you have problems with any of their equipment.
17/32A diver was unable to clear their ears at 4m and the dive was aborted.

Subsequent examination indicated a light cold was likely to be the problem.
17/31A diver deployed a DSMB from 15m following a dive to a maximum depth of 21m. The reel snagged pulling the diver upwards and causing them to be separated from their buddies. All the divers returned to the surface without further incident
17/30Towards the end of a dive leader training dive to a max depth of 19m, one of the students inflated their DSMB from a depth of 14m. They started to ascend and were unable to stop before breaching the surface at speed.

Although the diver exhibited no symptoms they were placed on oxygen whilst the DDMO was contacted. The DDMO recommended a check up at a recompression chamber which gave the diver the all clear.
17/29As part of a dive leader training dive in a low visibility quarry one of the students became separated whilst observing a demo DSMB demployment. The student inflated their own DSMB and all divers returned to the surface safely.
17/28Following an AS ascent, an Ocean Diver student was descending to 6m. They were unable to clear their ears and the dive was aborted.

Subsequently the diver was diagnosed as temporarily unfit to dive and removed from the cse.
17/27During a dive to 13m an Ocean diver trainee struggled to equalise their ears so descended very slowly. Whilst on the surface they reported having blocked ears but were able to clear them. The second dive took place without incident. As part of the debrief, the diver confirmed they were fit and well.

Approximately two hours after surfacing, the diver reported pain in their ear and a feeling of nausea which was followed by vomiting. The SADS contacted the DDMO who advised that the diver should report to the local minor injuries unit. Shortly afterwards the diver reported that their ear had 'popped' and they felt much better.

At A&E, the diver was diagnosed with an ear infection and given a course of antibiotics. They did not dive the next day.
Divers can feel fit and well on surfacing but become ill later. It is important that all divers know what to do in this situation and particularly how to contact the DDMO.
17/26Two and a half hours after surfacing from dives to 6.7m and 4.6 m respectively a diver complained of feeling unwell. The MRO, in consultation with the DDMO, decided that recompression treatment was required. Following two treatments on consecutive days, the diver was discharged.Diving related injuries can occur at very shallow depths. If in doubt, seek specialist advice.
17/25Following a sheltered water lesson to 2.6m, a diver reported problems with their ears. They were placed on light duties and removed from the Ocean Diver cse.
17/24A junior diver was preparing to use a loan regulator when it was observed to have a minor second stage freeflow. Further inspection revealed significant cracking and a kink in the vicinity of the hose protector.

The regulator was quarantined and returned for repair.
Loan equipment is often not looked after well so, if possible, it should be checked by a competent individual before use.
17/23During a dive to 16m, three divers on a wreck dive became separated in approx 3m of underwater visibility. One diver surfaced whilst the other two deployed a DSMB and attempted to carry out a 3 min safety stop. One of these was unable to maintain the stop and made a buoyant ascent to the surface.

The SADS signalled to the diver above the DSMB to recall the remaining diver who was carrying out the stop. All divers were brought together on the surface without further incident.
Diving in trios increases the risk of separation so consider the use of buddy line's especially with less experienced divers.

Safety stops are probably not appropriate when separation occurs as diving solo carries a significant risk.

Ensure all divers are aware of the separation plan.
17/22Following a dive to 6m a diver experienced ear discomfort during the evening. Medical advice was sought resulting in the individual being put on light duties and removed from their Ocean Diver cse.
17/21On a dive to 45m a diver was approaching their maximum allowed deco time. They started to deploy a DSMB but found it was tangled and took much longer than expected.

As a result of this delay in ascending the amount of compulsory deco required by the computer (Suunto Vyper) increased significantly. The divers ended up surfacing 13 mins later than expected having done nearly double the briefed amount of decompression.
Task fixation at depth can cause loss of situational awareness. On decompression dives it is essential to know at all times how long it will take you to get to the surface. Fortunately the divers had sufficient gas to carry out the additional stops.
17/20Following an ADP dive to 34m a diver was unable to hold their buoyancy on a 6m stop and floated to the surface. They vented gas from their wing and descended back to 6m to rejoin their buddy. The stops were conducted and all divers returned safely to the surface.

On surfacing the diver was placed on oxygen and the DDMO contacted. As a precautionary measure they were evacuated to the chamber and assessed by a suitably train doctor who decided no further treatment was required.
Having broken surface it is inadvisable to descend again.
17/19Whilst descending, a CCR diver experienced difficulty breathing at 6m. The dive was aborted and they returned safely to the surface.
17/18During the 2nd open water dive of an ocean diver course, a diver complained of ear pain. Following attendance at the medical centre they were advised not to dive for 3 days.
17/17Following a dive to 10m, it was observed that a diver had blood in their mask although had not felt any pain. The following morning they had a feeling of blocked ears and attended sick parade. The doctor advised no diving for 7 days but could find no injury.
17/16Whilst preparing diving kit, the cylinder was switched on causing the high pressure hose to rupture approximately 5cm from the pressure gauge.

This was the second failure of an SPG/hose in quick succession. The AT centre has subsequently replaced all SPGs with ones from a more premium brand.
17/15Just prior to conducting a buddy check, a diver's pressure gauge sheared away from the hose striking them on the left cheek. It was subsequently discovered that the gauge had been slowly unscrewed over time causing the spindle to shear off.

The diver suffered minor bruising and a ringing in their left ear for a few hours but no long lasting effects.
17/14Whilst conducting a mid-water DSMB deployment at 8m in a cold inland quarry using an octopus, the second stage started to freeflow and could not be stopped. Whilst this was occurring the diver started to ascend and ended up on the surface. Although not planned the ascent took place at a safe rate.
17/13In low visibility, two divers became separated. After 30 secs they were unable to locate each other and ascended under DSMBs.In low vis consider the use of a buddy line
17/12Whilst conducting a mid-water DSMB deployment at 9m in a cold inland quarry using an octopus, the second stage started to freeflow and could not be stopped. Whilst this was occurring the diver started to ascend and their instructor was unable to prevent them surfacing. The ascent took place at a safe rate.
17/11Whilst inflating a DSMB in 12m of cold water, the second stage of the octopus being used started to freeflow and could not be stopped. The diver went onto their buddy's AS and made a controlled ascent to the surface.
17/10Shortly after reaching the bottom on a 20m dive, and whilst one diver was inflating their DSMB, two divers became separated. Visibility was poor and after 30 secs neither could see the other. The second diver deployed their DSMB and both ascended to the surface without further incident.In low vis consider the use of a buddy line
17/09A diver conducted a dive to 20m which concluded with a 3 minute safety stop at 6m. On leaving the stop they experienced a sharp pain in their right ear.

The DDMO was contacted and a local doctor conducted an examination. No injury could be found and the diver was prescribed painkillers.
17/08Whilst diving at a UK inland site in February, two ocean diver students were conducting AS training as part of OO4. Whilst switching regulators a student's DV went into free flow.

The instructor conducted a controlled AS ascent with the student and the other student completed a normal ascent with the rescue diver.
17/07Whilst diving at a UK inland site in February, a diver was demonstrating DSMB deployment. Their egress octopus started to free flow and could not be stopped. Whilst attempting to do this a second diver had a freeflow from their man regulator which also could not be stopped.

All divers returned to the surface safely from 6m.
17/06An experienced diver entered the water with their drysuit open. Fortunately they were able to maintain buoyancy and were recovered back to the hard boat.
17/05Following a dive to 35m, a CCR diver started to feel unwell and nauseous at 12m. A dil flush did not improve symptoms so they bailed out and returned to the surface.

Subsequently the diver developed an ear infection and cold.
17/04Shortly after entering the water on a CCR dive, the CO2 alarm went off intermittently. Diver aborted and returned to the surface.

Unit was stripped down and more grease applied to the o-ring. No problems were encountered on subsequent dives
17/03During the surface interval between dives, a loud bang was heard and the medium pressure hose connected to a suit inflation bottle was found to have split. The hose was replaced and sometime later, but before diving commenced, this also split with a loud noise.

Subsequent examination revealed that the first stage was not holding inter stage pressure causing pressure to build up in the hose. The first stage was removed from service.
17/02Shortly after entering the water on a CCR dive, the CO2 alarm went off. A diluent flush was conducted but the alarm returned after 1-2 mins. Diver aborted and returned to the surface.

Subsequently the cannister o-ring was examined and a small nick identified. This was replaced and further dives conducted without incident.
17/01Whilst preparing to dive on a popular overseas wreck site, a diver was observed to surface in distress. The commercial operator was using a hard boat and still had divers down so the decision was made that the service RIB would provide assistance.

Upon reaching the casualty they were unresponsive and froth was seen to be coming from their mouth. A diver entered the water and confirmed that the casualty was not breathing.

The casualty was recovered to the RIB and BLS was commenced. This was followed shortly afterwards by oxygen enriched BLS. As the RIB made its way to shore the diver resumed breathing. and was then handed over to the emergency services.

Subsequently it was revealed that the casualty had an Immersion Pulmonary Oedema (IPO) but are expected to make a full recovery.

Without this prompt action it is quite possible that the casualty would have died. This shows the value of monitoring dive sites and being current in BLS.

Further details on incident reporting and the latest form can be accessed at this page.