British sub aqua club technical diving course completed in South East Asia
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech celebrates the successful graduation of Daniel Mabellis from his BSAC Extended Range course conducted over 4 days on Koh Tao Island off the coast of Thailand by BSAC Extended Range Instructor Ash Dunn and assisted by Mark Slinn and Duncan Tyler.
The BSAC Extended Range Diver [ERD] course is a full technical diving qualification, enabling you to make deep decompression dives using high percent oxygen nitrox mixes [up to 100% O2] to accelerate your decompression stops during ascent.
The course includes theory, shallow water skill development and executing open water dives to a maximum depth of 50 metres.
In the practical sessions, Daniel make a series of dives, working progressively deeper to a maximum depth of 50 metres.
Daniel practiced and mastered many skills such as safety checks and visualization techniques, dealing with out of air situations and gas switching.
Daniel also practiced fitting and removing stage cylinders underwater, deploying a delayed SMB from depth, ascent procedures and proper position for decompression stops.
Gas management and use of run time slates was important, plus utilizing lazy shots and decompression trapezes. Daniel worked on underwater navigation at depth, deploying and using distance lines on the bottom, use of jon lines and emergency stage cylinders.
Daniel was also involved in briefing support divers and helping to arrange a deco station and emergency equipment, plus much more.
This is a full-on course, which is very challenging. But once you qualify as a BSAC Extended Range Diver the possibilities are endless – get ready for exploration and adventure!
The course was completed with 2 dives on the Unicorn Wreck off the coast of Thailand, Daniel continues his training with a Trimix course in Singapore on the HMS Repulse wreck.
Using helium and oxygen based mixes to explore deeper then conventional air diving.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech is proud received the authority to conduct the BSAC Sports Mixed Gas and BSAC Explorer Mixed Gas diver courses as BSAC Thailand launch their extended technical diver programs.
Big Blue Tech is a BSAC Technical Instructor Trainer Facility giving the ability to train divers up to the Level of BSAC Explorer Mixed Gas Diver Instructors, this is a first for BSAC Thailand and BSAC Centers outside Europe.
BSAC Sports Mixed Gas Diver
Educates BSAC Sports Divers with Advanced Nitrox training on how to conduct dives to a maximum depth limit of 50 metres. The dives will be conducted utilizing breathing a gas mixture of oxygen percentage greater than or equal to 20% and a helium percentage of up to 30%, for example, 20/30. This will teach you how to plan and conduct dives requiring mandatory decompression and normoxic trimix.
BSAC Explorer Mixed Gas Diver
Aimed at BSAC Sports Mixed Gas Divers who wish to extend your depth. This will allow dives to a maximum depth limit of 60 metres and conduct dives breathing a gas mixture of oxygen percentage greater than or equal to 18% and a helium percentage of up to 35%, for example 18/35.
BSAC Advanced Mixed Gas Diver (*To be released in October of 2010)
Aimed at Explorer Mixed Gas Divers looking to expand your training and extend experience to dive to a maximum depth of 80 metres. The training includes the use of any suitable combination of gas mixtures, gas planning, dive planning and dive considerations.
These courses will be run primarily in conjunction with expedition style liveaboards off the coast of Singapore to the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince Of Wales which is a popular destination for BSAC Divers. However the course is open to all qualified divers regardless of prior certification for diving off the coast of Koh Tao or any other favorite destinations where Big Blue Tech hold office.
Big Blue Tech is the only center outside of Europe authorized to offer these courses.
Fore information you can read more at www.bsacthailand.com
Technical divers pay their respects to the fallen sailors and soldiers of the HMS Repulse.
South China Seas, Singapore.
Shortly after the outbreak of war in the Pacific on 8 December 1941, the HMS Repulse left Singapore in company with the other major element of the Eastern Fleet, including HMS Prince of Wales, and 4 destroyers, to try and intercept Japanese invasion force heading towards Malaya (Malaysia).
On December 10, 1941, after failing to find any Japanese invasion forces, and turning south, Japanese aircraft were spotted. The fleet was attacked by 86 Japanese aircraft from the 22nd Air Flotilla based in Saigon, which attacked both HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse.
The HMS Repulse survived a bomb hit and managed to dodge 14 torpedoes before being sunk in 20 minutes after receiving 5 torpedo hits. 327 crew members died in the sinking. Including a young electrician Arthur Frederick Cavell.
On April 30th 2010 technical diving instructor , for Big Blue Tech, Andrew Frederick Cavell joined an expedition to dive on the HMS Repulse. During his expedition he noticed a similar name and matching surname in the list of sailors who died on during the sinking.
Returning home to Thailand Andrew researched and discovered his great uncle was a serving member of the HMS Repulse and in fact is the same sailor who’s name he saw on the expedition. Andrew had no idea he had been diving on a wreck that was resting place for someone related.
The wreck site was designated as a ‘Protected Place’ in 2001 under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, just prior to the 60th anniversary of her sinking. The Royal Navy maintains a White Ensign flag on the mast of the Repulse. However this flag has been either removed or washed away by the strong currents.
Leading up to a second technical diving expedition a decision was made to place a Red Ensign on the wreck at the bow to honour the site and those who lost their lives serving on the HMS Repulse. The Red Ensign or “Red Duster” which is commonly used by Royal Merchant Navy Ships but at the same time by all Royal Navy who are departing from a foreign port. The Repulse would of flown this flag when leaving Singapore and never returned to remove it.
The current flag on the bow was placed by James Foleher and James Thornton-Allan who are both former soldiers from the British military.
In keeping with the rules outlined by the Protection of Military Remains Act there was no penetration or disturbance conducted on either expedition dives to the HMS Repulse by members of Big Blue Tech.
HMS Repulse Liveaboard technical diving trip provides perfect conditions for helium mixed gas diving.
South China Sea, Singapore
Continuing the expedition James Foleher and James Thornton-Allan departed Phuket and flew to Singapore to join a technical diving liveaboard on the Mv Samudera Quest which departs for 2 days and 3 nights on the HMS Repulse Shipwreck located off the coast of Singapore in south east Asia.
The purpose of this trip is to expose Mr. Foleher to the challenging conditions of the south china sea with strong currents and large swells. In addition to the environment the HMS Repulse is one of the top technical diving wrecks in the world and a perfect destination to combine with the training for the TDI Trimix Diver Course
The divers departed in the morning of the 21st of May and flew Air Asia direct from Phuket to Singapore Changi airport. Buy excess luggage upon booking was essential to avoid the heavy fines incurred from last months flight.
The plan was to meet the divers at Taneh Merrah Ferry Terminal where we would clear customs and immigration and board the Mv Samudera Quest which would start it’s overnight journey out to the HMS Repulse.
The Mv Samudera is a converted river ferry which has been adopted for technical and recreational diving with on board trimix, nitrox, oxygen supply and decompression bar below. The food is excellent and that always makes a difference on every long journey.
Arriving in the morning of the 22nd we were tied onto the torpedo damage section midships of the wreck at a depth of 40m. The sand would be a 55m which would be the majority of our dives since the wreck is almost inverted which meant having to go under the deck to explore the exterior.
During the first dive a British flag was placed on the bow, more to that story found later.
After completing 2 normoxic trimix dives the weather changed and a storm moved in. Unable to remain on site the vessel moved to a local island to seek refuge from the stormy weather. The waves were so strong that it broke the tie off line casting the liveaboard into the waves. Although it proved no concern to the dives it did mean someone would have to go back in and tie the rope back on to the wreck and there were no eager volunteers.
The following day it was decided to move on from the repulse and conducted more dives on the Au Tanker which is a very large and deep tanker with the sand at about 65m. This old vessel appeared to be an insurance scam as it was picked clean of everything that you would associate with a wreck.
Moving closer to Singapore a final wreck called the “Sara-D” wreck is another large freighter which many believed to be larger than the HMS Repulse. This wreck proved to be one of the favorites with large penetrations, crystal clear water and easy access with the wreck lying on it’s starboard side with the hull sheltering the divers from the current.
Singapore has one of the largest commercial shipping ports in the world which provides a lot of wrecks.
Upon returning to Singapore we disembarked and explored the city waiting for a return flight home to Phuket to continue our expedition to Krabi. Congratulations to James Foleher who completed his TDI Trimix Diver Course.
Internship program delivers the infamous Solo Diver certification and Research diver certification.
Continuing the expedition James Foleher and James Thornton-Allan continued diving in Phuket to conduct technical diver training and specialty diver training during a 3 week expedition / road trip through Thailand and south east Asia.
Today James Foleher completed the final aspects of his Scuba Diving International™ (SDI) Solo Diver Certification and his SDI Research Diver Certification. The dives were conducted in various environments in the early stages of the expedition and his internship but today James finalized his exam for the Solo Diver Course and completed his research on the HMS Repulse Wreck which we will be conducting a Technical Diving International™ (TDI) Trimix Diver Course in a few days.
James will be releasing his research in combination with a trip report online after the journey to Singapore has been completed.
The survey techniques used in the research diver program had already been conducted including how to measure, take inventory and dissect a dive site along with methods of installing a grid system. These skills had to be simulated because the wreck site was designated as a ‘Protected Place’ in 2001 under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, just prior to the 60th anniversary of her sinking. The Act makes it an offense to interfere with a protected place, to disturb the site or to remove anything from the site. Divers may visit the site but the rule is look, don’t touch and don’t penetrate.
The law concerning protected places applies anywhere in the world, but in practice, outside the UK, the sanctions can only be enforced against UK citizens, UK flagged ships, or vessels landing in the UK, unless backed by local legislation. Being as both James Thornton-Allan and James Foleher are British and former British Soldiers we’re certainly
Tomorrow is our last day for sightseeing in Phuket before flying down to Singapore.
3 weeks of technical diving around Asia starts with careful planning.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech depart tonight on another road trip of technical diving around the best destinations in Thailand. This journey was put together for James Foleher who is completing his technical instructor internship with us over 3 months. The expedition is being run by Big Blue Tech’s Director James Thornton-Allan who will be working with Mr. Foleher to complete the essential training and diving to give him the required skills and experience to be an effective technical instructor. James Foleher’s technical instructor assisting and study portion happens in June on our return.
The expedition equipment is carefully being tested and packed into a truck with a compressor which will be our home and method of transportation for the thousands of kilometers covered over the next 3 weeks. The amount of equipment includes a full collection of technical diving gear for both divers along with a large 50l cylinder of oxygen and helium as this trip will include a lot of trimix diving for the greater depths beyond 55m where narcosis isn’t an option.
Along with the right equipment, tools, spares and extra toys the choice of destinations is essential for the right experience. Training technical divers on Koh Tao is perfect for a starting point or for getting logged dives but there’s not a great diversity on conditions. Always flat and warm does not make a good technical diver so we picked locations that included currents, rough seas, fresh water, overheads both cavern, cave and wreck. Even locations where the depth make it night conditions.
The destinations include Khao Sok National Park, The Sunken Temple, 500 Rai, Khao Lak, Sea Chart 1 Wreck, Phucket, Racha Noi, King Cruiser Wreck, Krabi, Sra Keow Cave, Song Hong Cave in Trang, Songkhla, Pattaya wrecks and finally a trip down to Singapore for a weekend of diving on the HMS Repulse.
James will complete his TDI Gas Blender, TDI Compressor Operator, TDI Advanced Gas Blender, TDI Trimix, TDI Cavern and TDI Technical Divemaster course during this trip.
Check back with us to watch the trip and its progresses.
Technical divers explore dutch submarine wreck off the coast of Singapore.
South China Sea, Singapore
Big Blue Tech continued their expedition in Singapore with a day trimix diving on the K17 Dutch Submarine which was sank during world war 2 by a mine off the coast of Tioman.
The Submarine is lying upright in 55m of of saltwater with heavy damage to its starboard side.
After departing from the HMS Repulse the trip spent a day with 2 dives on the submarine. After the second dive was completed the trip departed for Singapore which was followed by a return to Thailand.
Technical divers explore world war 2 wreck off the coast of Singapore.
South China Sea, Singapore
Big Blue Tech recently returned from a technical diving expedition in singapore on the british battleship wreck HMS Repulse which included James Thornton-Allan, Andrew Cavell and Mark Slinn who were participating in a TDI Trimix Course conducted by TDI Trimix Instructor James Thornton-Allan
The expedition was hosted by the Mv Samudera Quest which is built with technical diving facilities in mind including on board trimix blending facilities and a decompression trapeze.
The trip consisted of 2 days on the HMS Repulse and 1 day on the K17 Dutch Submarine.
The HMS Repulse was sank during an Japanese air attack during the second world war making the HMS Repulse a war grave and protected site meaning penetration was not appropriate leaving the exploration of the wreck confined to the exterior. Although penetration has happened in the past we felt being former British military members it would be best to respect the war grave.
During the trip Andrew Cavell noticed on the list of casualties another “Cavell” after some research he found out that his great cousin died during the fall of the Repulse making the wreck and the rule of non-penetration even more profound.
The wreck itself is in 55m of salt water lying almost inverted on its port side with visible torpedo damage midships and stern. The large guns can be seen lying in the sand along with ammunition thrown around the exterior. Visibility was stunning with the wreck visible from the surface of the water. Although currents and swells were quite strong all the divers were trained to a caliber where the conditions posed little concern.
After the two days on the HMS Repulse the trip moved on to the Dutch K17 Submarine Wreck.
Day 1(23 Apr)
Assemble at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (Departure Hall) at 1700hrs. Big Blue Tech Staff will guide you through the immigration and customs clearance. By 1705hrs, you will be escorted to board the vessel for an orientation, briefing and introduction to the crew onboard.
Day 2 & 3
Rise & Shine at HMS Repulse, 0900hrs for dive 1 followed by breakfast during the surface interval. A (24 & 25 Apr) total of 3-day dives completed. Sumptuous dinner as we sail back home.
Rise & Shine K17 Submarine. Full day on her. 4pm depart for Singapore
Rise & Shine, Breakfast onboard, arrive at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal by approximately 0730hrs. Straight to work or home to sleep for the day..
4 Days / 4 Nights Liveaboard onboard MV Samudera Quest.
Unlimited diving onboard, use of air tanks / Weights.
Surface supplied Oxygen / Deco bar Station
Air Con accommodation on twin / Quad sharing.
Nitrox and Trimix gases
Scuba Diving equipment (BC/ Reg./Mask/Fins/Wet Suit/Twins/Stage/Comp)
TDI Trimix Certification
Flights from Bangkok
All carbonated drinks or alcoholic beverages onboard
Price: 65,000 THB
Using helium and oxygen to make technical diving gasses
Koh Tao, Thailand
PREPARATION is key when planning a trip to unfamiliar waters where you want to ensure the success of your dive trip and the safety of everyone on it. This is the case with Big Blue Tech who have been preparing to the HMS Repulse Trimix course off the coast of Singapore in a few days.
Teaching a trimix course also involves the careful gas blending and planning to ensure accuracy and safety of the final mix. Recently training has been conducted to ensure the staff of big blue are at least Advanced Gas Blenders and in some instances Mixed Gas Blending Instructors.
For today the staff have been carefully mixing a blend of 18/30 (18 percent oxygen and 30 percent helium) for some trimix warm up dives on a wreck the following day.
The process taken was quite straight forward. We filled the empty twin sets with helium to a certain pressure and then filled the rest of the twin sets with nitrox to create the desired mix. This proved to be a great opportunity to use our booster pump as the pressure in the large helium tank dropped below the amount needed in the twin set. Normally our booster pump is used to increase pressure of oxygen for rebreather divers but today we used it for helium.
Typically rolling the tanks after filling helps with the accuracy of the read and the mix however being a twinset they’re left to cool down before analyzing and topping up whatever is necessary.
The purpose behind all this blending and planning is to go deeper then you can with conventional air and to be able to feel no narcosis. With a mix of 18/30 you would be at 60m but feel like you were at 36m. If you increase the amount of helium you get an effect of essentially being shallower since you’re exposed to less nitrogen.