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Tuesday, 11 April 1961


Mr Ward d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -

1.   How frequently is the diving equipment used by naval " frogmen " checked to ensure that it is in good condition?

2.   Is it customary for these men to operate alone?

3.   If so, does this practice expose these men to unnecessary risk?

4.   Could the danger be minimized by providing that the number operating together should never be less than two, thus ensuring a prompt alarm being given should an emergency arise due to faulty equipment?


Mr Freeth - The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answers: - 1. (a) The equipment to be used in a diving operation is invariably assembled, checked and tested by the diver who is to use the equipment. It is further checked by the supervisor in charge of the diving operation immediately before use, and is again checked and examined immediately after use. Cb) All diving equipment in current use is examined and tested weekly, in addition to those tests in (a) above, (c) Individual components of the apparatus are further tested periodically in accordance with maintenance specifications prepared by the manufacturer, the frequency of these tests will vary for each component, (d) In addition to the above, every item of diving equipment and breathing apparatus, whether in current use or in store, is surveyed annually by a qualified diving officer to ensure its suitability for operational use. 2. (a) With the exception of the circumstance described in paragraph (d) under, all divers are connected with the surface by lifeline: they are not necessarily accompanied by another diver actually in the water, (b) The lifeline is normally attended on the surface by an attendant, who is invariably a qualified diver, or in the case of a particular operation, the lifeline is attached to a float which is kept under surveillance by the attendant, (c) In addition to the " attendant ", a second diver is kept dressed in diving gear and immediately ready for diving whenever a diver is down, and a second attendant is provided for this " stand-by " diver. A qualified diving officer supervises the diving operation, (d) The exception referred to above is the occasion when divers are " free swimming ", i.e. without lifeline, but in this circumstance they are in company with a second diver and attached to him by a "buddyline".

3.   It will be seen that, in order to send one diver down, a total of one diving officer and four divers are required, and '.his number ensures the maximum degree of safety and least risk to the diver under water. The diver is, of course, in constant communication with the surface through his lifeline which, by a laid down code of signals, relays all the diver's requirements. 4. (a) The regulations provide that the attendant on the surface checks frequently that the diver is all right. The frequency of checking provides that there would be sufficient time to bring the diver to the surface, on his lifeline, in the event of a failure of which the diver was unable to give warning, (b) The precaution against a failure of which a diver can give warning is the provision of the stand-by diver: in the event of, say, the diver becoming fouled on an underwater object the stand-by can be sent to free him immediately, (c) There is, therefore, no advantage to be gained in having a second diver in the water, but much to be gained by having him rested and with full supply of air, ready on the surface.

General Remarks.

(a)   The regulations provide that a diver is always medically examined before being permitted to dive. Furthermore, regulations provide that a diver who has not had the prescribed minimum period under water within one month must undergo a refresher course before again diving operationally.

(b)   The regulations governing diving operations have been compiled after a great deal of operational experience by the Navy with a view to ensuring the maximum safety of the diver, and it is considered that no circumstance has been overlooked. Practices in emergency procedures and drills are an integral part of divers' training and are thoroughly undergone before an operational dive takes place.







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