The elite saturation divers of the Navy, set a new national record for the deepest ocean dive when they dived to 257 meters on 9th January in the Arabian Sea about 35 nautical miles off Kochi.
The divers from INS Nireekshak – Lieutenant Malkeet Singh, Mukesh Kumar Leading Seaman, BS Bora Leading Seaman, Rithesh Kumar Leading Seaman, M Kumar Leading Seaman and Satender Sharma Leading Seaman exited on 19th January from the Diving Compression Chamber in the presence of their Commanding Officer, shipmates and their families. The divers, who were ensconced in the Deck Decompression Chamber (DCC) since 7th January in preparation for the dive, were decompressed in the DCC on completion of the record breaking dive. Earlier, divers from the same ship had dived to 233 meters in February 2011.
Saturation dive is a highly technical and niche field which helps in providing longer duration dives at deeper depths to carry out specific operations like submarine rescue or salvage. It involves complex support systems from the Diving Support Vessel to enable the divers to explore the final frontiers in physical and mental endurance. Water pressure increases by 1 kg/cm2 on increasing of depth by 10 meters each time. Other complications of deep dives include physiological problems of bubbles formed by gas throughout the body causing “decompression sickness” as the divers come up to water surface. Saturation divers inhale a mixture of helium and oxygen gases under pressure which is prepared and monitored by a team of specialists from the control station. The divers after being compressed to the required depth in the DCC are transferred under pressure to the diving bell through a tunnel arrangement. The diving bell with the divers is then lowered into the sea. The divers are provided heated gas for breathing and hot water for maintaining body temperatures at those depths where it is pitch dark.
Commander Sandeep S Sarna, Commanding Officer of INS Nireekshak expressed satisfaction and pride at the achievement of his men saying that such endeavours at testing the frontiers provides them greater confidence for future operations. INS Nireekshak had recently participated in a submarine rescue exercise with the US Navy. The ship was also deployed to raise the fishing boat Don I which had sunk off the Kerala coast last year after a collision with a merchant ship.
Naval Today Staff, January 24, 2013; Image: Indian Navy