SofD Update – May 15

It is fair to say that the volume and variety of all aspects of Defence diving is on the up, AT is proving to be no exception as the summer season gets into full swing. The demands on the Diving Standards Team is currently very high across the piece so please bear with us if you don’t get a response by return of post but do feel free to give us the odd nudge just in case your request has been overwhelmed in the in tray.

Changes to BRd 2806(5)

As previously briefed the BRd 2896(5) is a living document and will be amended and kept up to date between changes in order to best serve the community. Please note the following changes.

Para 0213 e. In line with BSAC safe diving the number of dives in a series involving consecutive days diving in excess of 30m has been increased from three to four days.

e. Any dive series involving consecutive days diving in excess of 30m is to be limited to four days, after which a 24 hour no diving break is to be taken.

Para 0211 b. Provision of O2 for a diver to transfer from the dive site to an RCC must be sufficient for the dive pair not just the individual.

b. ……Sufficient gas shall be provided for the duration of a transfer of two divers to a compression chamber.

Para 0219 a & f. In order to clear up any possible doubt as to which gasses are subject to testing and to what standard:

a. Gas Standards. All gas used under the JSAT scheme must comply with the standards contained in BS EN 12021;2014. This includes compressed natural breathing air (CNBA), Nitrox, Trimix, and both breathing and medical oxygen.

f. …… These need to be valid for the entire duration of the expedition. Certificates will need to be provided confirming that all gases, CNBA, Nitrox, Trimix, and both breathing and medical oxygen comply with the standards in para 0219a.

Please pen amend any local copies, these will be checked as part of the audit process. This information will be held on the DST(AT) DII page and the JSSADC web page. BRd 2806(5) will be amended accordingly at the next update.

I have seen several e-mails asking how you can propose amends. If you have any change proposals please pass them into your single service association representatives who will feed them into the JSSADPAC for consideration.

What’s New?

E-mail address. Following the merger of the DSEA and MAA to form the DSA all our DST e-mail titles have changed, the DSEA component having been truncated to DSA. For example my former address [email protected] is now [email protected]

Falkland Islands. AT diving in the Falkland Islands has been cleared to re-start; broadly in line with the restrictions in place on Ascension Island. I am sure Mandy and Bill will be pleased to see you if you find yourself down in their neck of the woods.

CCRs. After a shaky start the AP14 O2 sensors (not to be confused with the AP16 sensors already cleared) have settled down and are now performing to a satisfactory standard. Following earlier concerns their initial testing will run for 12 months rather than the planned 6 months before being made available for use. If successful they should be made available in late autumn. Like the AP16 sensors their full trial will last 2 years.

Diver Recall Systems. The first non explosive diver recall system has been procured. And is currently undergoing trials with JS in Cyprus. It was moved through the civil air bridge without incident. If successful the intention is to purchase up to 11 more systems to support overseas Expeds.

MOD Approved Centres. As those of you who have been trying to contact them, the DST(AT) have been busy over the last couple of months clearing the remaining MAC ready for this season. As well as the sites listed on the DST Dii web page the following centres have passed inspections:

Viking Cyprus
Voodoo Divers Egypt
Scuba Master Bahrain

We are now awaiting confirmation that they have the correct level of liability insurance and gas certification in place. Once this is complete they will be added to the list of cleared sites. We expect Viking and Voodoo to be successfully concluded in the very near future. Scuba Master may take a little longer as they weigh up their options as to whether to spend the money for insurance / gas testing (no requirement for either under Bahrain law therefore quite a significant cost to set up from scratch) with no guaranteed work stream to cover their investment.

Remember the MAC for the 2016 season will be considered at the autumn JSSADPAC so make sure you get any proposals to your association reps in good time. Please remember that for every new site taken on we will lose one of the current centres. Please note It takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with these centres so listings will evolve over time and not be started from scratch each year. Footfall will be one of the key determining factors as to which MAC are replaced so there will be an element of use them or lose them.

Military Divers BSAC crossover. Although not finalised we are very close to an agreement with BSAC to allow military diver to crossover to BSAC. Following a short period of conversion training they will gain their initial qualification. Although their entry level will be relatively low, time gained whilst conducting military diving will count toward their AT diving which will assist them climbing the ranks more rapidly than normal as long as their AT skills are of a requisite standard. This will hopefully be finalised in coming weeks rather than months. It is hoped that this will provide an influx (however small) into the branches to help boost numbers and viability.

What’s pending?

We are still awaiting the final publication of the DSTL paper into safe air depth. Verbally I have been told the answer is 39m. If this is the final finding then we will limit all air and Nitrox (actual depth not EAD) diving to 40m across Defence diving including AT. There is much interest in this report from all sectors of the civil fraternity both commercial and recreational; it will be passed to the HSE and British Diving Safety Group for their consideration.

Equivalent risk across defence diving. I have mentioned this previously and the development work is ongoing as BRd 2806(1) is re-written. The outcome that is most likely to affect the AT community will be the provision of RCC. No stop diving to 21m will not require a RCC. Diving between 21-50m and any diving less than 21m requiring stops will require access to a chamber within 6 hours (less if deemed necessary by the SADS), diving to depths between 50 – 60m will require a chamber on site. There is currently no intention to clear AT diving beyond 60m.

We were asked to look at and engage with BSAC over the current restriction that only allows 3 dives in a 24 hour period with a view to changing it to 3 dives in a calendar day. After 2 meetings BSAC remain uncomfortable with the proposal but will keep it under consideration.

Recent Incidents

Diving incidents requiring therapeutic recompression are part and parcel of diving. However, the AT community had 5 individuals undertake therapeutic treatments last year in 4 incidents and we have already had 3 individuals in separate incidents this year. In the same time period no other Defence divers have had to under go treatment. There are several factors at play here but key amongst them are AT divers trying to dive to the limits both in terms of depth and duration (must get as much out of the Exped as possible), dehydration especially in warmer climes and when individuals have not had the opportunity to acclimatise and sadly no medicals in place – golden rule divers must be in possession of a valid diving medical and the SADS must check. Failure to do contravenes Diving at Work Regulations 1997 and Defence diving regulations, both parties are liable to investigation by the HSE and the MOD; you are breaking the law. Any SADS will be automatically suspended pending re-assessment by OIC JSSADC and single services will investigate. Please look after yourselves and try to avoid the additional unplanned holiday at the end of your Exped whilst you complete your treatments and subsequent no fly period.

Gas. You must ensure all your gas is tested. There is clear direction in the BRd 2806(5) and JSP 319 (Gas Regs). There is a simple and proven means of getting your gas tested but plan early and get it done in good time. No certificate = No diving, this includes your medical O2. When Expeds clears gas at a site it is added to the Gas list maintained by DST(AT), check the web pages. If in doubt talk to Nick and Marc who will assist you through the process. A late call on arrival in theatre is too late and I’m sorry I can’t just turn a blind eye and let you ‘crack on’.


Thanks for your continued submissions. Gib, Cyprus, Malta and Egypt continue to predominate but I have received cards from Oman, Ascension, the Philippines, Bermuda and even penguins from the Falklands. Please keep them coming in, it makes this end of the job a little more bearable knowing it is turning into worthwhile AT
diving around the globe.


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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