Asia Navy Wet Diving Bell
Here’s something you don’t see very often. A visit to the Navy’s Diving Ship. There’s a wet diving bell on the navy ship which enables the navy to dive to some depth, much more than regular recreational divers can do. Deep dives are necessary to clear waterways, underwater construction, clandestine operations, and of course, diver support and underwater submarine escape for the coming French Scorpene submarines.
The 1st picture shows the wet diving bell. Notice the thick umbilical, which lowers the bell into the water. The smaller hoses supply air to the divers. 2 large air tanks provide emergency air if topside supply fails.
Divers getting suited up by their tenders. That yellow helmet is the “superlite”. Trust me, its not light at all.. damn heavy. Its equipped with a built-in radio for communications with topside. By the side of the superlite helmet is a camera which relays images to the dive ship. Divers carry an air tank also as emergency supply if the hose supply gets cut off.
Two divers get suited up and enter the dive bell, to be lowered into the sea. They don’t wear fins, as the idea is for them to actually do work on the sea bed. They can wear weighted boots so as they can walk around on the seabed. Things get checked double and triple so as everything is safe for a dive.
The bell gets lowered into the sea. The max dive depth is xxx metres. (sorry.. classified) Diving using the bell provides regulated and controlled descent. Slow enough for divers to equalize easily to the water pressure. Voice contact is mantained at all times to monitor the divers. Descend too quick and its likely that there will be burst eardrums and painful sinuses!!
The control centre for the divers’ air pressure, rates of ascent and descent and depth gauges. There is also control for the gas mix required for different depth of dives. Deeper dives usually requiring Heliox. Helium and oxygen mixtures for deep diving.
The bell will be indispensable as the Scorpene sub gets commisioned. It will be taking part in Submarine escape training as well as mantainence of the sub as well.
Great opportunity to actually see the Navy diving ship. The ship also comes equipped with two hyperbaric chambers for surface decompression for the divers. As divers would know, being under pressure for deep dives will result in nitrogen bubbles forming in the body during ascent. So the chambers are to repressurize the diver, as soon as he comes up to the surface to prevent the bubbles from killing the divers. During recompression, the bubbles will dissappear, and they are slowly decompress over a period of hours to minimize any bubble formations in the body.
Diving Technology has come a long way. As recent as 50 years ago, the small paragraph above with regards to formation of nitrogen bubbles was still witchcraft! With the advent of recompression technology, Diving computers which rather accurately give a model of supposed dive safety with regards to decompression illness, we’ve come a long way! It really wasn’t until the 1960s the time of Jaques cousteau where recreational diving using scuba gear kicked off.. Self contained underwater breathing apparatus.