Blog Archives

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.


Diving Standards Team – New Email Addresses

Those of you who keep an eye on such things will have noticed that the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) has merged with the Defence Safety and Environmental Authority (DSEA) to form the new Defence Safety Authority (DSA).

As many will know, the DSEA had amongst its members both the Superintendent of Diving (SofD) and the Diving Standards Team (DST).  They are now therefore part of the DSA.

Of course any change like this also involves a change in email addresses so the old ones for these individuals no longer work.  Anything you send to the old addresses will not get delivered.

The new email addresses are:


SofD Update – Feb 15

Just received from the Superintendent of Diving (who always enjoys receiving postcards from expeds!):

Apologies this entry will be briefer than normal as I am submitting by Blackberry from the depths of Northern Scotland.

As the weather improves and we approach the start of the season proper there are a couple of key parish notices.

Firstly JSP 917 is dead, long live BRd 2806(5). Your all new Vol 5 is now available on the Defence Intranet. We have also classified it so that it can be downloaded to local team sites. Please get stuck in and enjoy. The good news is that all the feedback so far has been positive so fingers crossed we have managed to deliver something that will better serve the community. Twenty nine of the Joint Service instructors & incremental staff are currently giving it a thorough scrubbing on their Red Sea training camp (Dom tell’s me I can’t call it an Exped!). The BRd will be reviewed annually during the autumn term to incorporate lessons from the preceding season so please ensure you provide feedback through your association representatives.

For those of you planning Expeds this year please ensure you are aware of the gas regulations and the requirements for gas testing – details in BR5 2806(5). The good news is that we are now testing to an internationally recognised British standard and there is a new low pressure, flight safe, gas bottle available for transporting gas samples back to suitable labs for testing. The DST(AT) team will take the lead to ensure that gas testing for Military Approved Centress is up to date however, Exped sites will be the responsibility of the team leader and the diving officer – no clean gas test = no diving. Key message is to START PLANNING EARLY and engage with the DST(AT) team who will help guide you through the requirements.

The new AP16 O2 sensors remain on track. With the sensors having successfully cleared the 6 month point in their 2 year trial and having achieved the other mandated requirements, CCRs have now been cleared for use. JS team have brought their sets back on line and have taken some sets out to the Red Sea. Courses are available this year through JSSADC. Fancy a go? Contact Dom and his team for details.

The JS Diving Safety Conference will be held in Plymouth on the 18th Mar. This is your opportunity to get the latest updates, have your say and ask questions of the JSSADPAC. All are welcome and I’ll see those attending there.

 Some of you may have heard that there are questions over the future of diving in the Falkland Islands. The issue is access to a chamber in the event of an accident. Rest assured we are working with the FI branch and a myriad of other parties to identify the nearest suitable chamber and develop a realistic casualty evacuation plan. The aim is to develop a dispensation tailored to the FI in the same manner as we have for the Ascension Islands.

Enjoy the new season, those of you that have not divided for a while please ease yourself back in and to all Dive Safe.




SofD Update – Dec 14

May I first take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from everyone in the Diving Standards Team.  Dom has again kindly offered me the opportunity to provide you with a quick round up of events so in no particular order:

Welcome to our new readers from the Cadet Forces who have now been included on the Bovi distribution to allow them to keep abreast of all the latest news and views.

O2 sensors for the CCR. The good news is that the AP16 sensors are continuing to perform well so providing there isn’t an unexpected hitch over the leave period we should be in a position to clear the CCRs for use at the start of January 15. Please note that the AP14 sensors that arrived after the defective AP12s did not perform to the required standard, if you come across an AP14 or one of the original AP12s please do not use it and let us know so that we can try and track down how it got into the system.

The AT team at HMS Temerraire are funding the procurement of a non explosive diver recall system. Once delivered, one will be provided to JSSADC to support training whilst the remainder will go to Biscester ready for EXPEDs to draw. An explosive recall system remains under test following further ballasting after the Mod 0 refused to sink – made life a bit more interesting for those in the boat!

Gas testing. The DST(AT) team continue to fight this one through and although it is like running through treacle the end is hopefully in sight. The key beneficiaries will be the JS sites on Cyprus and Ascension Island who will finally be able to ship their samples in a timely fashion by air.

JSP 917 is very nearly dead. BRd 2806(Vol 5) is at the Fleet Staff Authors and after a final proof read should be published in Jan 15 as planned. It incorporates all the latestchanges from gas testing to lessons identified from diving incidents to the very latest changes in the law following the release of the new HSE ACOP on the 8 Dec 14. Representatives from all walks of user were involved in the work and all parties agree it is a huge improvement so please take your time to get around it. It will be refreshed annually at the end of each year so please feel free to feed back comments through your association representatives.

Worry bead – there has been a sharp increase in the number of DCI’s in the last month; 4 in total. Fortunately all have been resolved without any apparent further complications. They appear to have been unrelated but act as a timely reminder to not force diving with sticky ears. Do not feel obliged to push to the envelope on no stop dives, dive deep then shallow even on relatively shallow dives and keep hydrated!

Finally a quick MAC update. Following feedback from the associations the MAC list for next year is currently:

  • JSSADC (Plymouth)
  • CJSATC (Cyprus)
  • Dive in (Cyprus)
  • Kembali (Cyprus)
  • Viking (Cyprus)
  • ASTDC Kiel
  • ATC Castlemartin
  • JPATU Gibraltar – (Exped only)
  • Ascension – (Exped only)
  • Aqua Venture (Kenya)
  • Dive Shack (Malta)
  • Deep Blue (Malta)
  • TBC (Bahrain)
  • TBC (Aqaba – Jordan)

(Note – the Army have withdrawn funding for the Bovington contract which will cease from Apr 15).

If possible we will look to clear Andark Diving as a UK commercial provider to provide continued training resource for the SCC. The list will continue to evolve so please check on the DST web-site for the latest listings.


Many thanks for all the cards received, it is good to know that the effort from the Ivory Tower is translating into fins on the ground. Offerings received include Gib (x2), Ascension, Malta, Oman, Egypt, the Philippines and North Korea (don’t ask!). Still lots of space on the board so keep them coming. When full you may even get a scubby ‘O’k rather than a military thumbs up.

For any of you that may be diving over the forthcoming break stay safe.

To all, have a great Christmas leave and all the best for the New Year.


SofD Update – Sept 14

We’ve had another update from the Superintendent of Diving, Cdr Mark Atkinson, which you can read below.  It covers a large number of topics including the JSP 917 rewrite, CCR update and medicals so is well worth a detailed read.

Perhaps most crucially though, you’ll note that he hasn’t received a single post card yet from a diving expedition!  Come on, surely we can do better than that??  His address is

Cdr Mark Atkinson RN, Superintendent of Diving, Bridge Building, Horsea Island, Corsham, PORTSMOUTH PO6 4TT, Hants, UK


Bonjour tout plongeurs
Apologies for the French intro just got back from the South of France looking at the NATO Submarine Rescue System – that is a truly enormous regulation issue and makes me realise how lucky we are compared to some of the domains that the team up here have to wrestle with.

As promised in the last issue I aim to submit a quick round up of life from this end of the telescope in each issue. Hopefully this one will be shorter than the last epistle. So what’s new?

In no particular order:

The good news.

  • The AP16 O2 sensors have been on test now for nearly 3 months and remain within tolerance. Although the trial will run for a total of 2 years provided the sensors remain on track then we should be able to start diving the CCR at the start of next year. Those wishing to take part in this branch of tech diving will now need to lean into ensuring that all the other admin is updated before the end of the year (safety case will be the key one). Although DST(AT) will not be able to lead on this activity (we aren’t allowed to subsequently mark our own homework) we will help wherever possible to review any documentation.
  • After 8 versions the JSP 917 (planned to become BRd 2806(5)) re-write is nearly finished. It was lined by lined on the 10 Sep and the final touches are now being added to the final draft. Distribution to CMPD, JSSADC and INM for a final external sanity check is underway before distributing out to the JSSADPAC membership (aim to achieve this no later than the 19 Sep) for comment and dissemination to their respective Kirks. Thereafter the intention is to line by line with the membership of the JSSADPAC on completion of the Oct meeting – we are allowing a full day for this. Whilst the key tenets of the JSP 917 will remain, the document has been significantly reduced, duplication removed, discrepancies resolved and grey areas nailed down. I believe you will find it a much more user friendly document. Once the JSSADPAC has agreed the document it will be cleared through the HSE and DSEA upper echelons before being lodged along with the other volumes of BRd 2806 in the HSE. My aim is to have jumped through all these hoops by the end of the year ready for the start of next season.
  • Diving Expeds and training. Following our most recent loss, the ensuing SI and meetings with the DSEA and HSE we have achieved buy in for how we demonstrate the necessary due diligence in order to continue to deliver sub-aqua AT in the future. Firstly there will be no change to the delivery of actual ESADS led expeditions anywhere in the World as long as they meet the requirements of JSP 917/BRd 2806(5). On the training front we will provide the necessary assurance so that people are able to undertake a variety of sub-aqua AT training at what will be known as MoD Approved Centres (MAC). Training can be undertaken by individuals or groups at a MAC using the organic staff but without the need for an ESADS. DST(AT) will be required to assure each site on a 12 monthly basis. Seven of these sites already have MOD links – JSSADC (Plymouth), CJSATC (Cyprus), JPDU (Gibraltar), ASCi (Ascension Island), KTC (Germany), Castlemartin (Pembroke) and Bovington (Dorset) (please note that for now ASCi and JPDU remain as Exped Centres which will still require ESADS to utilise the facility). The other 5 will be delivered through commercial centres. For the 2015 season the team have already cleared Aqua Ventures (Watamu Beach, Kenya) and Dive In (Cyprus – delivery of ELC training). The current intention is to clear a centre in Malta early in the New Year (to help meet a Cadet Force requirement but thereafter open to all) other possible suggestions are Dubai, Red Sea (Jordan), Belize and Oman. Please note however, the capacity of my team to approve centres is limited to 12 however when KTC closes (2016) there will be a natural opportunity to develop another overseas centre. The choice of centres will be down to you the community and will be agreed on a rolling 2 year basis at the autumn meeting of the JSSADPAC so start lobbying your representatives now for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The not so good news.

  • Hopefully you will have all seen the recent DIN (2014DIN01-176) regarding the reduction of diving medical officers from 2 to one against a requirement of 3 following the recall of the US officer. This will NOT affect the delivery of routine diving medicals however; it will mean that AT referrals to INM will not now be processed until the 2nd DMO is restored. Hopefully this could be as early as Jul 15.

Parish notice.

  • Next meeting of the JSSADPAC is scheduled for the 20-21 Oct so get any points you may have to your reps.
  • Still not had any post cards – including from my own DSEA-DST Exped to Gib (No brownie points for Mick!)

As always our door is open, any questions please fire them into the team – they’re not half bad once you get to know them and they are on your side – I should know, they keep badgering me all the time on your behalf!

Message from the Superintendent of Diving

We’ve received the letter below from the new Superintendent of Diving, Cdr Mark Atkinson which is for dissemination to all those interested in AT diving.

Having recently taken up the role of Superintendent of Diving at the end of May from Cdr Chris Baldwin I just wanted to offer a few initial thoughts on the state of Sub Aqua Diving Adventurous Training (AT).

Whilst reading into the appointment before even stepping over the threshold of Bridge Building AT diving clearly stood out as one of the 3 top priorities that I would need to come to terms with very quickly on taking up the post. 7 weeks in the number of worry beads has grown however, my top 3 remain unaltered and are the ones I am working hardest on to come to terms with and move forward. The thing I have been most struck by to date is the dedication and motivation of all those involved in AT diving with whom I have come into contact. This will be critical in allowing us to come together and advance the AT diving case; there will be much to do. Before going into specifics I would just like to draw a distinction in roles between the diving standards team who do everything we can to ensure best and safest practice, whilst the (Captain Naval Physical Development) CNPD team provide the governance. Both organisations have and will continue to work very closely together to deliver you the best diving experience we can.

On the regulation side we effectively work to 3 documents. For diving we work under the rules of the National Governing Body – BSAC. Because the Health and Safety Executive have deemed that entitled personnel are diving at work when conducting AT diving we are bound by the Diving at Work Regulations (DWR). The final document that impacts on AT diving is JSP 917 which captures those elements of the HSE regulations that effect us (i.e. if you are compliant with the JSP you have met the remit of the DWR) along with knowledge learned the hard way since 2006 through understanding the causes of the numerous incidents that have occurred including sadly a number of fatalities – it would be remiss of us to make the same mistake twice. A recent investigation into the death of one of our members commented very positively on the regulation of AT diving but equally pointed out that there was a breakdown between the regulator and the AT diving community. It has become readily apparent that one of the running sores in the relationship has been the JSP 917. This is currently been re-written to incorporate all the outstanding DINs and the lessons identified from the previously mentioned SI.. Whilst I have no ability to change the regulations, we will work hard to try and make it a more user friendly document. The AT Diving Standards Team (DST) will be finished the rewrite by the end of this week, the remainder of the DST will then proof read and amend over and around summer leave with the aim of releasing it to the community for staffing early in September with the goal of signing it off at the next Joint Service Sub-Aqua Diving Policy Advisory Committee (JSSADPAC) in Oct. We are also aiming to bring the current JSP into the Military Diving Manual series as BRd 2806 Vol 5. This will nor affect the content but will reduce the number of JSPs, help move the various arms of diving into one body and achieve staffing and writing support through the Fleet Staff Authors group which will help improve penmanship and clarity
The future and development of AT diving lies with CNPD and the governance team. Without stealing all their pies the aim is to try and better develop the infrastructure of current diving facilities and funding to branches whilst opening up diving to mass participation. Much still needs to be done to bottom out all the details however the headlines are that their will be no change to the delivery of ESADS led AT diving expeditions. We will look to bolster the current AT facilities both in the UK and overseas, any remaining DST (AT) resource will be spent in auditing and providing as many overseas commercial sites as possible where expedition leaders can take teams and use the facilities of commercial forms to deliver AT diving. The DST(AT) team will be able to cover a total of 12 sites a year and we will work with the Temeraire team to develop a 2 year rolling programme of sites again for agreement at the Oct JSSADPAC. Much of the 2015 programme is already fixed by work conducted this year but the community will be engaged to look at the remaining opportunities and the 2016 programme. What we the community need to do is work together and build the mass of individuals participating in diving as an AT activity. If we are unable to stem the decline in numbers of entitled personnel and demonstrate that we are a mass participation AT activity then the future could well be grim.

And finally an update on Closed Circuit Re-breathers (CCR). Whilst getting to know some of the individuals involved in diving AT, I have come across something of a mixture of fear and mistrust of the
DST organisation. The CCR tail appears to capture how best practice by the teams diving the equipment and sensible actions to keep those diving it safe, appear to have grown into a doom laden story of near biblical proportions. Before going on I would like to emphasise that whilst the DST team have a role to fulfil in auditing the branches and organisations delivering AT diving they are there to help and assist, not to catch you out. If things are amiss yes they will be reported but the aim is to also enable the DST organisation to help resolve the problems; we are not here to act as judge, jury and executioner. If we uncover issues with equipment we will work to get them fixed, if we find issues with training we will go back to the delivery teams and amend the training where necessary and if it is an individual that has come up short (we are all only human after all and we all make mistakes) then provided it is not gross negligence (which would then be reported to an appropriate authority for investigation) then we will work with the individual and the training/support organisation to resolve whatever the issue was. The CCRs fall very clearly into the first group. JSSADC undertook an advanced diving expedition the Red Sea to conduct a series of dives using CCR equipment earlier this year. During the course of which they had 11 instances of equipment malfunction all leading back to failures of the O2 sensors. They correctly reported this using the incident reporting procedures. The outcome was that the team looked at the information provided and subsequently stopped diving on the set until the issue could be resolved; please note diving on a military set would have been similarly stopped, in fact diving on military CCRs has been stopped previously for a similar reasons. Trials on the O2 sensors proved that they were not performing to specification and study of communal social media sites soon identified that the issue was also occurring on a large scale within the wider sports diving community. Close engagement with the manufacturer has now led to the development of a replacement O2 sensor which has just started a 2 year trail at the cost of £5k. Provided we do not see an occurrence of the failures during testing the sensors will be cleared for use in Jan 15 ready for the start of the new season. So whilst there is a temporary suspension of CCR diving, a defective component was identified, a replacement developed and a rigorous trials programme started all of which should lead to a safer diving experience. I genuinely believe this is a good news story and shows how the system can work to help protect the diving community so please, please keep reporting in your incidents – your one off issue might be repeated as one offs in many branches and point to a bigger issue – you will never be wrong to report any issue or near miss. The Future of CCR diving will again be down to the community. Assuming the new sensors work, JSSADC will be re-starting CCR training next year and running a number of camps for those qualified. Dom and his team have been set the task of developing a 5 year programme to develop and grow an advanced technical 60M CCR AT diving capability. Its success or failure will lie with the community’s ability to deliver the milestones, if the will isn’t there than we will look to develop other elements of technical diving for the advanced cadre.

I have gone on a lot longer than intended but felt it worth putting out the stall and updating you on developments from this side of the hill. I will aim to try and submit to the majority of the bulletins to keep you abreast of issues. However, this is a 2 way flow so don’t be shy engaging with the team. Enjoy your diving, be safe and don’t forget the post cards to remind us just how much fun you’re having whilst we’re stuck in the office!

Cards to:
Superintendent of Diving
Fleet Diving Headquarters
Bridge Building
Horsea Island
United Kingdom (for those of you who make it overseas!)

Challenge is to fill one of my notice boards before I leave – over to you