ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course

Subic Bay, Philippines

 Some photos from the first dive of the ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving course, run by Andy Davis in Subic Bay, Philippines on the 7th Sept 2013.   The course is ANDI Level 2 (advanced recreational) and is very similar in scope and protocols to the cavern diver course (but obviously focused on shipwreck penetration).

The course comprises theory study, exam, dry-land protocol rehearsals, a shallow water wreck diving skills training session and a further three actual wreck penetration dives.  All training is completed using redundant gas (doubles or sidemount), with doubles training included as a precursor if needed.

Students graduate qualified to conduct wreck penetration dives inside the ‘light zone‘.

Techniques of Wreck Diving ANDI Philippines

Students are equipped with redundant gas supplies (either double back-mount or sidemount, if qualified) and their equipment must be properly configured for wreck penetration diving.  An wreck diving equipment clinic is run at the start of the course to help students make their rig streamlined and reduce the potential for entanglements.  There is also preparatory training in gas management and precision dive planning using laptop dive planning software.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

Following intensive dry-land rehearsals, initial in-water training commences with proper guideline deployment.  Effective trim and buoyancy are necessary foundations for this dive.  The diver must be able to retain good horizontal trim, precision neutral buoyancy (even when highly task loaded) and should be competent with non-silting propulsion techniques.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

 Guideline deployment is half science and half art.  The line must be laid to facilitate swift team egress, even if visibility is removed.  Finding well positioned tie-off and placement locations requires a keen eye and a well understood comprehension of entanglement risk factors.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

 Considerable skill and caution must be exercised when laying line from the primary penetration reel.  The diver can easily entangle themselves if sloppy procedures are used.  The line should be taut, but not under significant strain.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

 Guideline tie-offs are a set procedure – balancing security against the need for speed and simplicity. It takes considerable practice to make these wreck diving techniques an ingrained, automatic skill.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

 Once the guideline has been laid properly, the student diver performs a basic (sighted) follow of the guideline to assess the effectiveness of their work. It is critical to become adept in laying the line in way that allows the team to exit from the wreck without a breakdown in speed or causing confusion.  The training dive is also recorded on video for de-briefing afterwards.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

 Following a guideline requires good buoyancy and control.  The diver should not place strain on the line, as there is a risk that the line can severe when in contact with potentially sharp structures on the shipwreck. Yanking and pulling on the line is a definite “fail”.

Student divers will also practice long-hose air-sharing whilst following the guideline, both with and without visibility.  This takes a lot of rehearsal and demands a knowledge of tactile/touch-contact communication procedures.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

All skills, drills and protocols are practiced first with full vision.  Then the student diver dons the infamous ‘black mask’ to simulate zero-visibility in a silt-out.  It is essential that competent wreck divers develop a high level of confidence in guideline skills when their vision is removed – after all, this is why we lay guidelines in the first place.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

Following the guideline with zero visibility really tests how well you have laid the line.  It also increases confidence in using the line to exit a wreck when all other references are removed.  This is a life-and-death skill for wreck penetration divers.  Stress management is critical during this practice – the experience can be unnerving the first time.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

In the event that the wreck diver loses contact with the guideline in zero-visibility, we rehearse and practice the ‘Lost Line’ drill.  During this drill the student wears a black-out mask (no vision) and deploys their safety spool.  They find a tie-off location for the spool and then search the immediate area for the guideline.

It can be very disorientating with no vision underwater and it unlikely that the wreck diver would swiftly find the guideline or exit by searching at random. In the worst case, the diver could wander far from their original position and work themselves deeper into the wreck.  This has happened in numerous wreck diving fatal incidents.

Using the safety spool ensures that the wreck diver can search methodically and will always be able to return to the position where they originally lost the line.  It is a life-saving drill.

ANDI Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Philippines

Wreck divers also train to use their safety spool to conduct ‘Lost Buddy’ searches away from the primary guideline.  This can be conducted with, and without, visibility.  Having confirmed that a team member is absent from the guideline, the diver ties their safety spool to the primary guideline and conducts a search for the missing buddy.  Searches like this may represent the lost divers’ only hope of surviving a silt-out inside a shipwreck.

Techniques of Wreck Diving Course Info

The ANDI Level 2 Techniques of Wreck Diving course takes 3-5 days, depending upon whether the student requires introductory training in double-tank configuration equipment and/or level-2 nitrox training.  Exemplary foundational dive skills, such as; buoyancy, propulsion, trim, team skills and situational awareness, are also a pre-requisite and supplementary/preparatory training can be provided if improvement is needed.

For more details on the Techniques of Wreck Diving course, please see the info page or contact me directly.

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