Ambient Pressure Diving and Silent Diving Support Lends its self to Britannic’s success
The 2006 History Channel H.M.S Britannic Expedition
The definition of an Expedition is defined as a journey of some length or difficulty for a definite purpose. For those who have not taken part in such an event, it is by no means assemble your gear on and “go diving”. Time, preparation, proper tools/equipment and team work is what is essential for success and a safe return. The 2006 History Channel expedition brought together fifteen (15) world class divers, with one common goal………to explore and document Britannic. The team consisted of John Chatterton, Richie Kohler, (expedition leaders): Martin Parker, UK, Mike Etheridge, UK, Leigh Biship UK, Carl Spencer UK, Edwardo Pavia, Italy, Mark Bullen, UK Mike Fowler, Canada, Evan Kovacs, USA, Frankie Pelegrino, USA, Mike Pizzio, USA Mike Barnette, USA, Shallow support Heeth Grantham and Joe Porter.
With loss of her more famous sister Titanic, the launching of Britannic was delayed until finally on February 26, 1914, the White Star Line announced the newest Olympic Class liner would soon begin service between South Hampton and New York the following spring. The outbreak the Great War intervened, and the Britannic’s planned luxurious interior was never completed, but instead turned into military hospital complete with operating rooms, and large Red Crosses were painted on her sides. She served dutifully in this capacity, ferrying wounded soldiers back and forth until on November 21, 1916, while steaming into the Kea Channel, Britannic is rocked by an explosion. Mercifully she had already deposited her cargo of sick and wounded earlier that day otherwise the death toll of 30 would have been even greater. Britannic now lies at a depth of 400 ft. in clear Aegean water and is considered by many to be the Mt Everest for experienced technical divers around the world.
Before the History Channel team could get wet, a Greek fishing vessel had to first be transformed into a dive boat and since there is no dive shop to be found on the island of Kea, stage bottles and compressors had to be brought over by the European divers. Martin Parker of Ambient Pressure Diving and Mike Fowler of Silent Diving were instrumental in providing Inspiration and Evolutions rebreathers to the expedition leaders and film crew in addition to an enormous supply of Sofnolime for the entire dive team. Everyone on the team pulled together, worked hard and made it happen. The divers were so confident in the reliability of the technology and quality assurance provided by APD, they simply assembled the units, completed their positive and negative pressure test and went diving, virtually right out of the box.
The 2006 Britannic expedition encountered many firsts. Areas of the wreck were explored that divers wouldn’t dare to venture in previous visits and the use of high definition cameras custom made specifically for this expedition by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, has captured stereo high definition footage of the wreck like never before. With the exception of shallow support, the entire team of bottom divers was required by both the Greek Ministry of antiquities, and the wrecks owner, Mr. Simon Mills, to use rebreathers. This was to protect the wreck and its anaerobic environment from bubbles that could otherwise accelerate deterioration on this historically important wreck. The use of closed circuit rebreather enabled the divers to accrue longer bottom times with less decompression obligation and arguably a much safer dive profile as each diver independently carried everything he needed to safely make the entire dive. A seven (7) hour run time though extreme, is very do-able when you are diving a rebreather with the appropriate scrubber capacity. Over all, the rebreathers that were used in this expedition amounted to (1) Ouroboros, (2) Megalodon ,(10) Inspiration and (3) Evolutions.
Divers Alert Network, (DAN) was able to conduct its first ever “deep technical rebreather field study”. Because of the sophistication of the Vision electronics, and its ability to down load accurate dive data, was very instrumental in aiding DAN (Divers Alert Network) in conducting their field study supplying information as detailed as gas mixes and gas switches. Paired with an ultrasonic device called Doppler, the combined data will be critical in the overall observations and findings.
By continuing to support research, pushing the limits and putting your product to the test not just in a confined testing facility, but actually out in the field is what makes the people behind the Inspiration and Evolution rebreathers by far, in a class of their own. It’s this company’s quest for knowledge, perseverance and skill that will take diving into the next generation.
The airing of the History Channel’s H.M.S. Britannic will be in April, 2007.