Floating Deco Station

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The shipwreck diving platform is a combination of two elements: the down line system and the free floating deco station.

It requires four people to easily deploy these two apparatus. Surface Support, Safety & Expedition Divers will all help deploy these tools.

To setup the down line system, the first thing you need to do is hook the wreck.

  1. To hook the wreck we use a large anchor/hook made from a car axle with 3 prongs of rebar welded to it on 200-350′ of rope.
  2. Once we hook the wreck, we remove as much slack from the line as possible and tie a knot to clip on the floats.
  3. Any extra rope is bunched up and placed in a rope bag which is also attached to the knot
  4. Finally someone attaches the two large floats (buoys).
  5. We back the boat off and make sure the wreck is actually hooked (lesson learned the hard way).

Once you’re sure you’ve hooked the wreck, you start to assemble the floating deco station on board and prepare to hook your floats.

  1. One person prepares the carabiner and weight on the long rope side of the deco station while someone hooks the floats.
  2. Once the floats are pulled up, you hook the carabiner under the rope bag (or else it won’t slide down to 120′ where we want it to be).
  3. Now you have two teams working in unison on the two sides of the deco station to mount the cross beams that make up the 10′ increments for 20 -50′.
  4. Every 10 foot of deco station rope has a ring tied into it; the rings are color coded to match on each side.
  5. The team working the long line of the deco station calls out a color as they clip a cross beam to that ring.
    • Often the first cross piece beam (at 50′) also has a bag of goodies included with it (e.g. water, headphones, etc.) and an additional Oxygen bottle + reg (charged and off)
  6. The short line team repeats the color as they clip the other end of the cross beam to that color coded ring.
    • 50′ red – red
    • 40′ blue – blue
    • 30′ yellow – yellow
    • 20′ green – green
  7. The final step is for each team to attach the orange float balls to the top of the line (before they let it go into the water).
Floating Deco Station

Floating Deco Station

Surface Support Team Member

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We are always looking for energetic individuals to assist in our dive operations.

Surface support and safety divers are an integral part of our team and their assistance is greatly appreciated. A single individual will often carry out both positions of surface support and safety diver due to limited space on the boat.

Pre Dive

  • Over 18
  • Willingness to work with boat Captain to ensure safety of all team members.
  • Work with Captain to ensure boat is correctly loaded.
  • Ensure all deco-station components are present and in good working order.
  • Assist team in loading gear and dive platform onto boat.
  • Deploy and set grapple on direction of boat Captain.
  • Rigging of deco station.
  • Assist team members in gearing up. This is not as easy as it may seem, each team member may have several tanks that will need to be clipped on.
    • Small details such as orientation of gate clips is crucial.
    • Attention to detail is critical as each diver will have specific requests that the surface support team member will need to address.
  • Assist heavily laden divers to swim step.
  • Help divers with fins as requested/needed.
  • Inform Captain if diver has extra gear that will be handed down after water entry such as cameras or scooters.
  • Communicate between Captain and diver to ensure divers safe entry into water.
  • Ensure no part of divers gear hangs up and inform Captain of ‘diver in the water’.
  • Hand down and assist diver with remaining gear.

Assisting Teams while Surfacing

NOTE: This is a very busy time, while assisting a surfaced team, another team may surface. Communication and organizational skills are very helpful.

  • Inform Captain that divers have surfaced.
  • Liaison between divers and Captain to ensure safe positioning of boat.
  • Inform Captain when divers are on the swim step.
  • Assist divers in removing and lifting stage tanks onto boat.
    • Tanks cannot be left on the deck to roll around and must be properly stored.
  • When divers reach top of platform, help with removal of fins.
  • Assist diver to seated position if requested.
  • Assist diver with rig removal if requested.

After All Team Members are On Board

  • Recover and stow deco platform.
  • Recover and stow grapple and lines.
  • Ensure all gear is safely stored.
  • Enjoy ‘post dive libations’ that will be presented to the surface support crew by the exploration team members.

Safety Diver

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The role of the safety diver is a critical one for deep diving operations. It helps ensure the safety of everyone involved and generally makes the exploration diver’s lives a whole lot easier while doing the deco time on the line. Often the safety diver also plays the role of surface support team member before diving commences.

We’ve divided the procedures below into standard things you’ll do… and things you’ll be prepared for but hopefully won’t ever use in real life.

Standard Procedures

Pre Dive Requirements

  • Over 18.
  • DAN insurance or equivalent.
  • Certified diver with a rating of rescue diver or higher.
  • Good buoyancy control.
  • Ability to react to fluid situations.
  • Willingness to learn about team members specific gear.
    • Rebreathers from different manufacturers, open circuit divers, and flux capacitors.
  • Willingness to work with boat Captain to ensure safety of all team members.
  • List dive teams and deco schedules on wall chart.
  • Verify return times and 70 foot travel times.
  • Safety diver will be responsible for the documentation of all expected team run times and be able to communicate to the Captain any deviances from the projected times.

During the Dive

  • When the last member of a team leaves the surface document the exact dive start time.
    • It is helpful to use a single time piece throughout the dive operations to ensure everyone is on the same schedule.
  • While team members are diving, maintain vigilance for any deployed SMBs.
    • SMB deployment will be covered under non-standard procedures.
  • Enter water to coincide with last teams projected 70 foot stop time. This might be a bounce dive.
  • Count each diver and ensure all team members are on the deco-station.
    • No ok’s or extra communication is required.
    • To ensure promptness of emergent situations, each diver is responsible of informing safety diver of problems.
    • Emergent needs will be covered under non-standard procedures.
  • If safety diver notices anything out of the norm or divers in distress, do not hesitate to notify other team members or render aid as necessary.
  • Ensure deco-platform is free of grapple lines.
  • After completion of diver count, divers may request/hand off unneeded equipment such as cameras, scooters or extra tanks.
  • When a scooter is handed off donating diver is responsible for trigger being locked and prop backed off.
  • Do not, under any circumstances allow divers to encumber you with more equipment than you can safely handle.
    • Make multiple trips if necessary.
  • Return extra equipment to boat and inform Captain of diver count.

 Non Standard Procedures

 SMB (Surface Marker Buoy)

  1. Check to see name on bag, this will tell you which team.
  2. Check slate on bags for needs or problems as listed by the dive team that deployed the smb.
  3. If slate lists gasses or equipment needed, bring them with you on descent.
  4. Descend down smb line no greater than depth required. Do not incur any decompression requirements. Check on divers, deliver any requested equipment/gasses.
  5. Retrieve any unnecessary gear as requested by divers.
  6. Ascend and report to Captain.
  7. Co-ordinate any further assistance as needed.

Bail Out from a Rebreather

  1. Immediately check bailed out diver for an ‘ok’ sign.
  2. It is the bailed out divers responsibility to inform safety diver of any needs. Most likely this will be extra gasses.
  3. Safety diver co-ordinates gas donation.
    • Other members of the team will have extra tanks, but safety diver might be tasked with tank shuffling between divers.
    • Safety diver might also be tasked with returning to the boat for more gasses.

Injured diver

  1. Assist injured diver back onto boat.
  2. Keep written list of all information regarding diver condition and injury.
  3. Keep track of injured divers equipment.
  4. Assist Captain and emergency personnel as requested.
  5. Injured divers are placed on O2.

Decompression Sickness

  1. In a suspect case of dcs, injured diver cannot make non-dcs call.
    • If symptoms or concerns are present, safety diver can call it as a dcs hit and all divers on the boat will treat it as such.
  2. If safety diver calls a dcs hit, this is a final judgment and there will be no argument.
  3. All suspect/confirmed cases of dcs will be evacuated on Captains and safety diver’s direction at the earliest opportunity.

SS Admiral Sampson

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I had the pleasure of diving with the guys from Maritime Documentation Society (MDS) on the SS Admiral Sampson for two days last week. What an amazing wreck!

Quick stats:

  • 296 feet x 36 feet
  • Born: December 1898
  • Sunk: August 26th, 1914
  • Lies in 320 fsw off Point No Point

Day 1 Diving

~ 8 minutes on the bottom (turned for severe current and equipment failure)

Day 2 Diving

~18 Minutes on the bottom (planned bottom time of 20 min), 120 min total run time.

Other Resources

For some great historical research and much more polished (awesome) videos, see the work of Dan Warter with DCS Films: