Commercial Diving Training at the Maritime Archaeology Programme in Denmark

On the 16th of November the commercial diving course finally started! The dive course had a duration of four weeks. Generally, course days were long with up to 12hrs of teaching or practical diving per day. 

Week 1

The first week started with a lot of theory divided over 5 days. During this week we were introduced to diving history, physics and physiology, decompression tables, legislation, dive equipment, underwater work and diving hazards, dive planning and management, diving first aid, communication and seamanship.

Photo 1 - Getting dressed up for our first diving experience
Getting dressed up for our first diving experience!

At the end of day 4 and 5 we went to the pool to get our first diving experience. In the pool we got familiar with all the equipment, which is quite a lot as you can see on the photos! The diving equipment we use is Interspiro MK2. In the pool we also trained basic underwater skills, like our buoyancy, and we did a mask release drill.

Photo 2 - Mask release drill
Mask release drill

Week 2

After the two pool sessions it was already time for our first open water dive at Kjelst, just north of Esbjerg. In this shallow lake we spent four days of diving, doing different tasks each day. The first day was just an exploration dive.

Photo 3 - The dive site in Kjelst
The dive site in Kjelst

This time we had to dive with a lifeline and a communication system, so we had to get used to that. We got instructions either via the communication system, or via rope signals. The next few days we had to do another mask drill, underwater searches, navigation with a compass, rigging (knots) and rescue drills.

Photo 4 - Nicole ready to dive at Kjelst
Nicole is ready for her first open water dive in Kjelst
Minolta DSC
One of the rescue drills

At the last day of this week, we had a first aid course. Here we learned how to deal with most diving related accidents. We did CPR and did some roleplaying. At the end of the day we got our first aid certificate.

Week 3

On Sunday afternoon we left Esbjerg and went with our dive class to Hemmoor in Northern Germany. We went to a water-filled quarry, the Kreidensee, which attracts a lot of divers. In this lake traces can still be found of the quarry but also a lot of objects are submerged, like an airplane, a boat and a truck. The lake has a maximum depth of 60m. One of the goals for this week was to get used to dive to greater depths. During this week we dived to depths between 20 and 30 meters and we simulated decompression stops.

Photo 6 - The Kreidensee at Hemmoor.
The Kreidensee at Hemmoor

Because we stayed in houses near the dive site we had the chance to dive two times a day, in the morning usually an exploration dive at greater depth and in the afternoon a task. During this week we practiced our buoyancy, lifting objects with a lifting bag, practiced rigging (knots), rescue drills (ascent) and had to build a construction.

Photo 7 - Robert returning from an early morning dive at Hemmoor
Robert returning from an early morning dive at Hemmoor

In the lake an airplane was emerged at around 24 meters deep, which we had to describe to the surface via communication and had to film using a camera. The last day consisted of a group assignment: we had to build a table from the metal pipes. Each pair got 45 minutes to work on the frame underwater. Once it was done, the table had to be disassembled and brought back to the surface. While lowering and lifting the pipes, we had to make sure these were well secured using the knots we learned.

Photo 8 - Filming the airplane with the camera.
Filming the airplane with the camera

Week 4

The last diving week took place in Lillebælt (Little Belt) near Fredericia, a very popular diving place in Denmark. Here we practiced more rescue drills and rigging, but we also had a new skill to train: underwater carpentry. In 30 minutes we had to make a wooden cross of 40 x 40cm. The last thing we had to do, was a visual inspection of the wall of the pier. This was also really good for practicing our buoyancy. We started at 8m depth where we had to stay for 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes we had to ascent 2m and describe the wall. There were a lot of animals (starfish, crabs, fish, jellyfish) and plants on the wall, so we had a lot to describe.

Photo 9 - The dive site at the Ammoniakhavn, Lillebælt.
The dive site at the Ammoniakhavn, Lillebælt

The last diving day was not in Lillebælt, but in the harbor of Esbjerg. We had the change to record a rudder from an old fishing vessel for the Fiskeri- og Søfarmuseet (Fisheries and Maritime Museum) in Esbjerg, so that they could make a reconstruction of the rudder. The description had to be drawn underwater. This was the most difficult dive we have experienced so far, because there was a very strong wind (9 on the scale of Beaufort), there was quite a strong current and the visibility was only 20-30 centimeters. We managed to get most of the measurements done, but in January we will go back to the harbor and finish the job.

Photo 10 - The old fishing vessel in the harbor of Esbjerg.
The old fishing vessel in the harbor of Esbjerg

The four weeks flew by and we really enjoyed this experience. Exams will take place in week 5. In this week we will have an exam on all the theory and a practical exam. In January and February a few more dive projects will (hopefully) come along, but more on this in the next blog!

Robert de Hoop & Nicole Schoute

Over Maritiem Programma

Het Maritiem Programma van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed houdt zich bezig met het onderzoek naar scheepswrakken, bruggen, havens en andere maritieme landschappen. Het doel is om kennis, onderzoek, beleid, samenwerking en educatie op het gebied van maritiem erfgoed in Nederland een stevige basis te geven. Het programma loopt van 2012 tot en met 2015.

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