JS Diving Safety Conference 2014

The 2014 Joint Service Diving Safety Conference took place in the Roebuck Theatre at HMS RALEIGH on 14 Jan 14.  Attendance was impressive with over 70 divers attracted from across the UK and current military postings.  A particularly fine effort was made by the BSADS who managed to get back from the Falklands but we also had attendees from Cyprus, Germany, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

It was my conference so I kicked proceedings off with an update on events at JSSADC.  Most of the presentation concerned the move from Fort Bovisand and our new setup in HMNB Devonport.  The bottom line is that JSSADC is fully open for business and that our future will look even brighter when we get our new building sorted in (hopefully) the next few months – click here for my presentation


At this point we were well ahead of time so the decision was made to bring forward our next speaker.  We were extremely fortunate to have Dr Sally Simmons from the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC) who tackled the thorny issue of diver culture with her presentation entitled ‘Denial is a Long River’ – .see here for the slides.

After a break, Jim Watson from the British Sub Aqua Club took the stand.  Impressively sprightly, considering he’d left Manchester at 0200hrs to be with us, his presentation ranged widely proving an extremely comprehensive look at some of the current issues within the club and an analysis of incidents captured throughout 2013. There was also a detailed comparison with previous years. Full slide pack here – BSAC Presentation

Next up was Peter Holt from The Ships Project to talk about his plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the sinking in 1944 of probably the most dived wreck in the UK – the SS James Eagan Layne.   His presentation provided a wealth of information, and some exquisite 3D images, of this incredible wreck.  Click here to see it.

After lunch Monty Halls stepped onto the stage and wowed the audience with the stories behind the filming of his most recent TV series.  If you haven’t see ‘Mysteries of the Deep’ then you should do asap and if you have then you’ll know why!

Following this was never going to be an easy task but Cdr Chris Baldwin, Superintendent of Diving (SofD), was at least pleased that Monty had stressed the importance of remaining firmly within the HSE Diving at Work regulations.  Aided by the Diving Standards Officer (AT), Nick Harrington, SofD briefed the conference on his role as the diving regulator and covered a number of live issues including CBNA certificates, diver recall & JSP 917.  The full presentation can be accessed here.

Finally I introduced the members of the catchily titled Joint Service Sub Aqua Diving Policy Advisory Committee (JSSADPAC) who took to the stage for a lively Q&A.  A wide variety of ground was covered including funding for RN clubs, thoughts about the current SADS scheme, feedback from assurance visits and diver recall systems.  Many of these were also taken forward at the JSSADPAC meeting that took place the next day and I anticipate these will be fed back to clubs via their single service associations.

Subsequently a number of individuals have approached me indicating that there was inadequate time to cover all topics and this is something that I’ll ensure is amended for next year.  In the interim I’m also exploring with the chair of the JSSADPAC for a way in which further questions can be raised.  Watch this space!

The only thing that remains to be said is that the date for the 2015 Diving Safety Conference has been set for 18 March 2015, a DIN will go out in due course but in the interim you may wish to mark it in your diary.


Dominic Robinson is a BSAC Advanced Diver, Advanced Instructor and has been an Expedition Sub Aqua Diving Supervisor (ESADS) since 1994. Qualified on both open and closed circuit, he has led diving expeditions worldwide including Jamaica, South Africa, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Corsica, Gibraltar and throughout the UK.

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