Those of us in the Surface Supply Program have been quite busy these past few weeks. After splitting up with the Occupational SCUBA Program, we got right into orientation dives with the surface supply equipment. We learned about inspecting and coiling umbilicals, how to 'plumb' the system together, and rack operation including standardized phrases when talking on the comms. If DiveSafe is is one thing it's a hands on training centre and we didn't have to wait long before we were learning to do bailout checks and jumping in the water with the Kirby Morgan Superlite 17K, the KMB28, and the Gorski helmut. At DiveSafe we are able to learn and dive at the same time allowing us to get lots of dive time.
After a good number of orientation dives we stepped back into the classroom for some more theory. We spent a day learning about enriched air theory then spent a day blending up 'nitrox' using a variety of methods, and then we went to the wreck of HMCS Columbia to dive using the gas we mixed! The Columbia is a 366 foot battleship sunk as an artificial reef near Maude island. Diving the Columbia was an awesome experience that none of us will soon forget. The following day we got started on our first project, the shot of chain! As a group we worked to string out a shot of chain between two dock pilings roughly 75 feet apart. After we got the chain as tight as possible using a come-along, we used a line and a prussic to sink a 55 gallon blue rain barrel full of foam. Once down we had to rig it and re-rig it all the way along the chain from one piling to the other and then back again. A feat easier said than done. The barrel was not allowed to reach the surface because if it did we would have to start all over again. We were able to complete the project on our first attempt but it took us five days. I think I speak for everyone when I say we were all happy to have all the project materials back on deck. It was our first lesson in rigging and an excellent experience in 'underwater problem solving.'
The next project had us building boxes underwater! This project is used to help us work on task management as well as to give us the skills to build concrete forms. We had some expert box builders who received top marks on their first go, and then there were a few of us (myself included) who needed a second try. We were all able to finish up and head home feeling satisfied and ready for the weekend. We are really starting to get comfortable with the different roles and procedures of a surface supply operation and we look forward to every new day and the challenges they bring.
Visit Ben here next week for his take on the 'Big Nasty' project and the Blacked-Out Riser pipe project. Two very big challenges, a real test of the students endurance and their patience. Two projects that go a long way in showing them life as a commercial diver.