Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech observed the Thai navy sink one of their own ships today on Koh Tao to provide an artificial reef and wreck diving resource just off the shore from our resort.
The HTMS Sattakut was origionally owned by the US Navy. During World War II USS LCI(L)(G)(M)-739 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the assualt and occupation of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945.
Plans to dive the new wreck are already underway with undoubtedly hundreds of divers just waiting for the conservation society to finish counting the sea stars and let us have at it. We’re expecting a chance to dive it within the week.
The ships unique bow design allowed troops to assault beaches in the security and shelter of it’s forward guns and Armour. This gives the wreck an unusual appearance.
Displacement 246 t.(light), 264 t. (landing), 419 t.(loaded)
Length 158′ 5½”
Beam 23′ 3″
Draft Light 3′ 1½” mean, Landing, 2′ 8″ forward, 4′ 10″ aft, Loaded, 5′ 4″ forward, 5′ 11″ aft
Speed 16 kts (max.), 14 kts maximum continuous
LCI(L) Complement 4 Officers, 24 Enlisted
LCI(G) Complement 5 Officers, 65 Enlisted
LCI(M) Complement 4 Officers, 49 Enlisted
LCI(L) Troop Capacity 6 Officers, 182 Enlisted
LCI(L) Cargo Capacity 75 tons
Armor 2″ plastic splinter protection on gun turrets, conning tower and pilot house
Endurance 4,000 miles at 12 kts, loaded, 500 miles at 15 kts; and 110 tons of fuel
LCI(L) Armament five single 20mm guns, one bow mounted, one each port and starboard forward of wheelhouse, one each port and starboard aft of wheelhouse, on some LCIs two .50 cal machine guns were added
LCI(G) Armament two 40mm guns, four 20mm guns, six .50cal machine guns, 10 MK7 rocket launchers
LCI(M) Armament one single 40mm gun, forward, four 20mm guns, three 4.2mm chemical mortars mounted in three 4ft x 4ft wooden walled 2″ x 6″ high sand boxes on the well deck with the three tripod mortar tubes in position to fire forward over the bow, No. 2 Troop Compartment (under well deck) converted to a magazine
Fuel Capacity 130 tons, lube oil 200 gal.
Propulsion two sets of 4 GM diesels, 4 per shaft, BHP 1,600, twin variable pitch propellers
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech Thailand celebrates the graduation of Phil Clegg and Paw Mac-Mullit from their TDI Advanced Nitrox and TDI Decompression Procedures course conducted over 4-5 days on Koh Tao Island by Technical Instructor Ash Dunn.
Koh tao has been struck recently by severe flooding, this flooding receded but the success of the course was in jeopardy as the seas were too rough to go diving in.
The conditions on the island improved, power was restored and the sun came out. This meant the course could being and the team headed out to sea for some deep technical diving.
The diving conditions proved hard and challenging putting the fortitude of each novice technical diver to test. The surface current was strong, visibility was limited and the skills had to be performed perfectly to the instructors demands.
In the end the students walked away from the course successfully having been challenged under the worst conditions Thailand has to offer. Thankfully the students remained to continue on to their TDI Trimix Course starting tomorrow which won’t be as severe conditions wise but just as challenging skill wise.
The focus of these combined courses is to train students to be successful in technical diving. These classes are taught as if they are a small piece to a much larger picture, not as entry-level technical diving. These courses build the foundation for sound technical diving. What you will learn will be utilized in higher level trimix courses. This is not a course to learn or re-learn fundamental diving skills. Students will be held to a higher level of performance not found in many technical diving courses.
Students are taught and evaluated, not only on skill proficiency, but control, leadership, situational awareness, teamwork, and judgment. Successful students will have a finesse that few divers have. You will finish this class with the confidence, competence, and comfort to be able to complete dives at this level of training prior to receiving a c-card.
This course requires a minimum of 5 days with 10 or more dives and involves a minimum 40 hours of instruction. Expect to dive every day with lectures in the afternoon and evening for each day. The majority of dives will be conducted in shallow water for critical skill evaluation. However, each day will get deeper as the class progresses. The final day is reserved for experience dives that will be at depth with a real decompression obligation.
Course content will include, but not limited to: enriched air Nitrox usage, decompression mixtures, diving physics & physiology, dive tables, advanced decompression theory, oxygen exposure/management, team diving procedures, and contingency planning.
Helium induced breathing mixed creates focused environment for extreme wreck penetration.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech is proud to certify Graeme Scott from his TDI Advanced Wreck , TDI Helitrox and TDI Trimix course conducted over a week long period of progressive training by TDI Instructor James Thornton-Allan off the coast of Thailand on Koh Tao Island.
The TDI Advanced Wreck course is unqiue in diving as it takes a certified technical diver and exposes him to the challenges of wreck penetration while juggling the stress of technical decompression diving. The advanced wreck course is designed to expose the students to elements of hazards, risk and thrills associated with wreck penetration diving including emergency decompression, entanglement, line skills and penetration techniques from progressive penetration to freestyle line work.
The TDI Advanced Wreck course is often taught of depths upwards of 55m, in this case the breathing mix was changed from convention air to helium based mixes to keep an equivalent narcotic depth above 30m allowing the student to have a clear head for the more challenging penetrations at narcosis depth levels.
After combined dives on trimix Graeme finished off with an air based dive post certification to gain appreciation for the difficulties of narcosis induced wreck penetration which includes many errors in judgement, confusion and general over confidence.
This course culminates Graeme’s training as part of his month long internship and he now returns to England where he will continue to practice his skills and certification at his local dive club.
You can view more pictures on our Big Blue Tech Facebook Fan
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech recently completed a TDI Advanced Wreck Diver course for Lin Wang and Darees Meril and a TDI Advanced Wreck Instructor course for Rodney Gibbs by TDI Advanced Wreck Instructor Trainer Ben Reymenants duing a 4 day technical wreck diving workshop and underwater training session on Koh Tao Island off the coast of Thailand.
Shipwrecks have always attracted divers. Many divers enjoy the history that shipwrecks bring. While others enjoy watching the marine life that are attracted to shipwrecks.
For what ever your reasons, shipwrecks are fraught with danger. Many people compare them to haunted houses with dangers around every corner. The equipment and procedures required to dive shipwrecks is also just as complicated. Divers must master the use of this equipment and procedures to ensure safe wreck penetration diving.
The entry level wreck diving courses have been so “streamlined” that they lack quite a bit of essential information. We will build the basic skills needed for divers to safely penetrate shipwrecks using doubles and a guideline. You will learn topics such as gas management, running and retrieving guideline, team positioning on the guideline, lost visibility procedures, and failures associated with wreck penetration. During this course, we will present many failure scenarios in a controlled environment. These types of scenarios are designed to embed the urgency and seriousness that failures require in real environments.
In technical penetration diving, there are broadly two approaches. The conventional approach involves the use of continuous guidelines laid from a wreck reel, tied just outside of the entrance point, just inside the entrance point, and at regular intervals inside (to mitigate the risk of a cut line, or a “line trap”. In deeper penetrations, two reels are used, so that in the event of a total loss of visibility where the diver loses contact with the primary line or the primary line gets cut, the secondary line can be anchored and then used as a reference point to sweep for the primary line.
An alternative approach, popularised by deep wreck divers in the American Northeast, is referred to as “progressive penetration”. Progressive penetration eschews the use of reels, but the diver makes several successive penetrations, each successively deeper than the last, memorising the layout for both the inward and outward journeys. As a diving technique, progressive penetration is not taught by any of the mainstream diver training agencies.
Divers engaging in penetration diving are conventionally taught to carry three lights – a primary light and two backup lights – thereby virtually eliminating the risk of completely losing light inside the wreck. Nonetheless, total loss of visibility due to a silt-out remains a risk.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech announces the graduation of Darees Meril from his SDI Sidemount Diver course and Rodney Gibbs from his SDI Sidemount Instructor Course conducted by SDI Instructor Trainer Ben Reymenants on Koh Tao Island off the coast of Thailand.
What is sidemount scuba diving..?
Diving in sidemount configuration is the process of taking one or two cylinders and placing them on either side of your body, rather than mounting them on your back, (traditionally known as backmounted). But Sidemount diving is much more than just a change in equipment. In fact, with the right training, you will find it to be a vastly more rewarding and enlightening experience.
Why use sidemount equipment configuration vs backmount..?
• Enables a unique method of buoyancy control which results in a more streamlined profile, reduces drag and makes finning and moving through the water much easier and more efficient. Get as close to the free-diver experience as possible with Scuba!
• Offers a greater comfort level. Sidemount equipment and harness are custom fit to each individual, accommodating divers of all shapes and sizes.
• Great for divers with any disabilities, as you carry the cylinder(s) separate from your harness to the water. Cylinders and weights are then mounted and attached in the water, making the entries and exits to dive sites much easier.
• The safest option in terms of air management. Sidemount allows provides you with easier access to your cylinder valve(s), first stage(s) and alternate air source should a problem arise.
• One harness and BCD does it all! This statement is now 100% true! Your Sidemount equipment can also be used for more advanced types of diving i.e wreck, technical and cave diving, providing you get trained correctly at each level.
Why has sidemount diving not become popular until now..?
To answer this effectively, we must first understand a little history. Sidemount diving first attracted attention, in the 1970’s, used by a man named Woody Jasper. Today, it is regarded as the only way to explore very small sections within a cave system, with therefore only a handful of cave divers using sidemount equipment configuration. This enables them to squeeze through tight spaces, in order to get through parts of a cave that someone equipped with backmount would be unable to access. Cave Diver’s call these sections “restrictions”, and Cave diving in sidemount is currently considered an extreme form of technical scuba diving.
Ask a Scuba Diver about Sidemount, and you’ll find that most of them have never seen or are even unaware of Sidemount scuba diving, what it is, or how it works. This means that up until now, only people who were interested in the advanced forms of Cave diving were being given the opportunity to dive in Sidemount configuration. Subsequently, (at the time of writing, early 2009) only two manufacturers were currently making a BCD and harness system suitable for sidemount diving. For more detailed information on these and other systems, please visit the equipment section.
However! It is now a well known fact that equipment manufacturers (and also training agencies such as SDI) are becoming heavily involved with Sidemount scuba diving as a “Great way” of diving for all divers. This includes the recreational diving industry. The following will show the advantages of diving Sidemount, and also some specific details of the SDI Sidemount Specialty Courses that we offer. By attending these courses, not only will you be exposing yourself to a fantastic new way of diving, it will also allow you to dive wearing this unique configuration. All you need is your Advanced Open Water Diver certification (or equivalent) and to be 18 years old. More detailed information can be found in the sidemount courses section.
What specialty courses do you offer..?
• SDI Sidemount Diver Specialty Course
• Technical Diving Courses in Sidemount Configuration
Once I have your specialty certification what will this allow me to do..?
• Conduct all your future dives in safety whilst experiencing the ease and freedom of wearing sidemount equipment configuration!
• Be equipped wearing sidemount configuration during your future training courses!
Technical Divers learn how to penetrate deep ocean shipwrecks in the tropical waters of Thailand.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech celebrates the successful certification and graduation of Manuela Agbaba from her TDI Advanced Wreck Course conducted over 2 weeks in various locations throughout thailand by TDI Advanced Wreck Instructor James Thornton-Allan.
The TDI Advanced Wreck course is the next step for any diver that has taken a wreck diver course. During this course, your TDI Instructor will teach you the proper techniques for locating and planning a penetration dive. The advanced wreck course is commonly taught with other popular TDI course such as advanced nitrox, decompression procedures, extended range, closed circuit rebreather, and trimix. This course was combined with a TDI Helitrox and TDI Trimix course for the deeper dives where narcosis impaired the absorption of skills.
This course provides training and experience to competently conduct advanced wreck dives. This program includes penetration skills and techniques at depths that shall not exceed 55msw, but limited to the level in which the diver is already trained. The objective of this course is to train divers in the proper techniques, equipment requirements and hazards of wreck diving.
Divers will inevitably want to delve into a wreck that appeals to them, the enticing gloom and lure of the unknown is ever present. It can be complex to put into words the magnetism that can take a hold on you for wanting to explore within a wreck, it goes to the core of what it is to be a diver and push back another frontier within oneself.
Wrecks come in different shapes and sizes, some wrecks are so open and dispersed that a rookie diver would be safe drifting around it, others are so enclosed, dark and dangerous that even professional wreck divers may of perished exploring them. The marine encrusted tight hatches and doorways tend to be designed for sealing compartments off and can be quite small, a challenging obstacle for a fully equipped diver.
It is wise to try and remind the adventurous divers spirit to temper the need to go forth and roam freely with common sense and a realistic outlook when it comes to this aspect of wreck diving. If the surface is not directly accessible from a penetration point on a wreck then the necessary precautions should be taken and be aware that now you are entering a serious level of responsibility. Its a level of responsibility that can mean your very life is at stake if you don’t proceed wisely. A diver roped to a buddy on stand-by at the wreck entry point is a lifeline in every sense of the word and should be considered a minimum. Within some wrecks collapsing structures, dead-end corridors that divers can only exit backwards and an almost sinister way that loss of direction occurs can be many hazards and challenges they entail.
The wreck-diving mavericks who learned from experience may scoff at such things, afterall they may often pioneer into the unknown and self-rescue themselves sufficiently with no problems. It must be argued in their favor that a cool head and slick dive skill is a key factor in escaping from underwater danger
Appropriate training, experience and equipment is essential for wreck penetration to be undertaken, it cannot be stressed enough that rookie divers should not undertake a wreck penetration without this.
Danger factor is a subliminal but ever-present threat. Some of the greatest trauma and tragedy I’ve noticed comes from a wreck or cave diving fatality. Having to leave behind a trapped or missing diver will leave lasting damage to rescuers, both physical from possible DCI (due to rushed ascents, decompression and repeat dives) and mental anguish.
While many instructors offer these skills or elements in their training it’s essential that you undertake training from a certified and experienced instructor prior to any technical wreck diving.
This course was conducted on the following wrecks.
Mv Seachart 1 wreck – Khao Lak – 40m
Premchai Wreck – Khao Lak – 20m
Mv Trident Wreck – Koh Tao – 35m
The Unicorn Wreck (Hishidaiaya Maru) – Koh Tao – 50m
Shipwreck owners attempt to enforce tariff on diving the Mv Sea Chart 1 of the coast of Khao Lak
Khao Lak, Thailand
Big Blue Tech was recently notified by the new owner of the Mv Sea Chart wreck that permission would be required to dive the ship wreck, located 6 miles off the coast of Khao Lak in Thailand, and that this permission would be granted if individuals paid a fee.
Operations manager of Sea-Chart Thailand Mr. Kitipong Suk-Anek said “we have learnt that the wreck
is now a day being interesting / attractive place for those scuba diving coursed also many of independent divers visit there.” meaning that the wreck site had become a popular destination in the region for divers and dive shops.
Mr. Kitipong also said “we will only authorize diving firm who has been approved and
possessing the written permission issue solely by our company against the fees of $ 3,000 USD per year” or “Should you or your company or others party interesting to manage on this biz as our agency we may offer special rate of lumpsum fees at us$30,000 per year” Stating that individuals can pay a single annual fee or an organization can pay a large sum of money and be the administrators of the enforcement.
Typically enforcing such a plan takes a lot of time and money. Daily rates that are already in place for the similan islands would be an appropriate option but with very little oversight into diving operations in Thailand it’s hard to know if this claim is legitimate. With the potential backing of the government and the addition of permanent buoy lines this project might see some success.
In one discussion, Ben Reymenants, Technical Divin Instructor Trainer asked “if a charge is really needed, do you also accept the liability that comes with charging a customer to use your vessel as an attraction?” meaning the company would be responsible for the incidents on the wreck.
This is not a new concept, in the United Kingdom a policy of “receiver of the wreck” is established for government agencies to oversea salvage and recovery operations including access for diving operations. They also record artifact recovery and register it for ownership claim.
The Mv Sea Chart sank in 2009 during a storm while carrying a large amount of Teak logs from Myanmar to Thailand. The wreck gained a lot of interest amongst local technical divers and day trip divers who wanted to dive the massive wreck in the crystal clear waters of the Similan Islands.
Big Blue Tech recently supported divers from the Thai Navy who visited Koh Tao to explore deep shipwrecks around Koh Tao and the gulf of Thailand. These divers had been trained by the military and also commercially in the art of mixed gas technical diving and decided they wanted to enjoy some fun diving for a change instead of working underwater.
Big Blue Tech staff Ash Dunn and Mark Slinn accompanied by other technical divers from the community took the divers out to the “Big Blue Wreck” which is a sunken wooden passenger ferry that we discovered in February of this year. In addition to our wreck we showed the divers the highlights of Chumphon Pinnacle and other coral dive sites. And finally a day trip to the Unicorn Wreck which is a large steel wreck in about 50m of water.
The divers decided on using a normoxic trimix mix of helium and oxygen on the Unicorn wreck because of the depth beyond 40m and they wanted to have a clear head to explore the exterior of the wreck. Penetration of the unicorn is prohibited due to the extreme risk of silting and entrapment. In addition to their trimix gas mix the divers used pure oxygen and nitrox to accelerate their decompression.
Chatuphoon Thanomkaew of the Thailand Diving Association and Thai Navy found the days exciting and easy remarking that they were impressed with the support and service provided for them during their short holiday.
Technical and recreational divers explore a ocean wreck in Thailand
Koh Tao, Thailand
Big Blue Tech took eager divers out to the “Big Blue Wreck” today off the coast of Koh Tao Island in the gulf of thailand.
The “Big Blue Wreck” is a wooden passenger ferry that went down without casualty in 45m of water in April of 2009 due to rough weather. Big Blue Tech conducted several searches for the wreck and found her in February of 2010. You can read more about the discovery here: Technical divers discover shipwreck off coast of Thailand
Today’s diving trip was organized to train our divemaster interns on deep, wreck and nitrox skills which started the day previously on a coral dive site and progressed to our deep wreck this morning. The course was conducted by Technical Diving Instructor Helen Artal and assisted by Mark Slinn who is helping out at Big Blue Tech this month as the main staff are in Europe.
On arrival at the wreck site, using GPS to located the wreck a “shot line” or weighted line was dropped as a visual aid for Mark who is a Trimix Diver to descend and secure a fixed line on the wreck for the rest of the divers to use. The shot line was dropped directly on the wreck which goes to show the accuracy and professionalism of the team. After mark secured the line the divers descended and enjoyed 2 dives on the wreck.
This wreck is private and only Big Blue Tech have access to it’s location. This is also in response to environmental research being conducted on the site to the effect of deep coral development and sustainability of wooden wrecks in the region. By keeping the site exclusive it allows for tracking of diver impact on the fragile ecosystem.
Big Blue Tech run frequent wreck day trips throughout the year to several different wrecks along the coast of Koh Tao.
Technical diving insurance now provided, free, with all our diving and training!
Koh Tao, Thailand
Diving specific insurance can be expensive, typically insurance programs require yearly commitment and membership to the agencies. While this is essential for diving professionals it doesn’t work well for the occasional diver.
Technical diving is frought with danger and the worst scenario would be an accident and you don’t have insurance.
Big Blue Tech will be providing insurance with all their training and diving starting September 1st 2010. By providing insurance which covers evacuation and re-compression chamber services, search and rescue efforts, transportation costs during emergency, civil liability (which applies to professional internships) and all disability coverage for diving related incidents.
Big Blue Tech provides this service as a duty of care for our students. While we ensist that all our students have diving insurance we find that many don’t which leaves themselves and us unprotected against unforeseen accidents.
This insurance also covers expedition diving and remote areas where evacuation facilities are essential. When cave diving in the jungles of thailand or wreck diving in the south china sea you want to know if the worst happens, then we’ll ensure you get the health-care you need.
Even if you’re not diving, operating a compressor or servicing a cylinder can be dangerous and these are also aspects of the diving related injuries covered.
Big Blue Tech are proud to be working with the INDEPTHS Affinity Group backed by Dive Master Insurance and representing them throughout south east
For those that already have diving insurance for DAN or other agencies this is an optional benefit. This insurance has a total payable benefit of 50,000 GBP or 100,000 USD. This is providing you are enrolled in a course or diving within the limits of your certification under supervision.
You can read the small print here: