a (FIRE SUPPORT) COMPANY
4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment
Mona House, Leads Road, Sutton-on-Hull. HU7 4TT
Telephone: 01482 826516 Military: 9 4775 2470
Fax: 01482 820782 Fax: 9 4775 2475
See Distribution G7/7016
18 September 2012
EXERCISE NORTHERN YORKSHIRE SPLASH 19-31 AUG 2012 – POST EXERCISE REPORT
A. Exercise Yorkshire Splash Warning Order – Dated 21 Feb 2012
B. JSP 419-Joint Service Adventurous Training Scheme
C. JSSADR-Joint Service Sub-Aqua Diving Regulations-dated 18 Aug 2010
D. JSATFA- dated 15 Feb 2012
E. AGAIs Vol 1 Chapter 011 Adventurous Training
F. AGAIs Vol 1 Chapter 018 Safety Precautions in Training: The Hazards of Water
G. BSAC Safe Diving Practices
H. DIN 2012DIN06-018: Joint Service Adventurous Training Sub-Aqua Diving on Ascension Island - Risk Assessment and Emergency Assistance Plan
I. G7/AT/AS34/3E/12 Authorisation to Conduct Level 3E Adventure Training Letter.
1. Exercise NORTHERN YORKSHIRE SPLASH was a 4 YORKS level 3 adventurous training sub-aqua diving (scuba) expedition to the Ascension Island. Although the expedition was organised primarily for the personnel within the unit, several key expedition members, (SADS and 2 x OWI with boat handling qualifications) were sought from outside units. For this reason the expedition was opened via the Army Sub Aqua Diving Association (ASADA) web site.
2. The aim of adventurous training is to develop, through challenging pursuits in an outdoor and sometimes hostile environment, leadership and the qualities necessary to enhance the performance of military personnel during peace and war. The specific aim of this expedition was to allow personnel to participate in a variety of dives in a challenging environment; extending their BSAC diving experience and qualifications by diving in demanding conditions and paving the way for future expeditions.
3. The objectives of the expedition were as follows:
a. To encourage the personal development of individuals through the adventurous activity of sub aqua diving.
b. To increase the qualification levels of expedition members by one grade where possible.
c. Instruct expedition members to obtain BSAC boat handlers qualification.
d. To consolidate and improve the skills of divers.
e. To promote leadership skills
f. Conduct a tour of various landscapes of Ascension Island.
g. Instruct all expedition members on how to operate a diving air compressor
4. Ascension Island is part of a British Overseas Territory, together with St Helena and Tristan da Cunha, under the sovereignty of the British Crown. It lies approximately 900 miles off the West coast of Africa and is just South of the Equator. It is a volcanic island and has several peaks, the highest being Green Mountain standing some 859 meters above sea level. The diving is superb, with sites all around the island ranging from 2m up to and beyond the expedition’s maximum depth of 30m. Visibility is often in excess of 30m. Most, if not all, sites have bottoms of rock and sand close to shore becoming sandy further out.
5. The final nominal roll is at Annex A
6. Initial Planning. The bid for this expedition slot was originally submitted by 254 Med Regt, who were unable to fill the slot due to various reasons, we therefore requested that we would be willing to take on the slot, contacting Maj David Ferguson LF-HQ-ATGA, who cleared the way for us, and was extremely helpful.
7. Online JSATFA. No problems arose with the input of information onto the online JSATFA. The 2 Div ATSO, Maj (Retd) Dougie Mcgill, was a wealth of information and always willing to assist.
8. Research. Early contact with the Movement Warrant Officer on Ascension Island who is now the main point of contact for all dive expeditions is essential. Talking to previous expedition leaders proved to be very useful, together with the RAFSAA website which is the best source of information on diving in Ascension.
9. Sub Aqua Dive Supervisor (SADS). The expedition lead SADS was WO1 Tim Butt who has dived in Ascension on 3 previous occasions. The Deputy SADS is Lt Sophie Rennie who has dived in Ascension on six previous occasions; this gave us the opportunity to draw on their local knowledge. Both SADS had a wealth of experience and numerous qualifications, enabling the expedition to make the maximum use of all the dive facilities. I would recommend 2 SADS as this reduces the work load on the lead SADS and enables more flexibility when planning dives.
10. Local Knowledge. One of our two additional instructors Sgt Lyn Forsyth (RAF) was the Deputy Training Officer of RAFSAA, and had been to the Ascension Island on numerous occasions. This allowed us to draw on her experience and local knowledge, without which the expedition would not have been such a resounding success.
11. High Risk and Remote (HRR) Presentation. Prior to departing to the Ascension Island all expedition members were issued with a hard copy of the presentation allowing them to absorb the information during the flight. This was obtained from the RAFSAA web sight. On arrival and prior to doing anything else this presentation is carried out in the briefing room in the ops building at the airhead, using a CD and PowerPoint projector provided. This is mandatory.
12. Preparatory Training. Having discussed with various people the prerequisites for this expedition, it was decided that all expedition members must have qualified at the base level of BSAC Ocean diver or PADI Open water level. Soldiers wishing to participate were loaded onto courses at the JSSADC Fort Bovisand or the Army Dive centre at Bovington. The biggest problem we incurred was getting TA soldiers dive medicals, which has to be done through OHSAS, however with some negotiation this was achieved.
13. Training. All Diving training was iaw Reference C,E,G and H. BSAC training was conducted for Sports Divers, including crossover training for PADI Divers to BSAC Sports Diver. This resulted in all skills for Sports Divers either being taught or revised. In addition BSAC Boat handlers and Boat Handler instructor qualifications were obtained due to the fact that our deputy SADS Sophie Rennie was a Coxswain instructor.
14. Qualifications Obtained. The following qualifications were obtained whilst in Ascension Island:
a. Sports Diver x 3
b. Cross over from PADI to Sports Diver x 3
c. Dive Leader partial training x 1
d. Boat Handler x 5
e. Boat Handler Instructor x 2
15. Air Breaks. These were mandatory after every 4 days diving and in the 24 hours prior to departing on the return flight, allowing the expedition time for limited site seeing and relaxation.
16. Dive Planning. Dive planning and conduct was controlled by the lead SADS assisted by the deputy SADS. Dive sites were determined by the sea conditions and the weather, also taking into consideration the diver’s experience. Two dives per day, with the occasional 3rd day or night dive was the maximum achievable.
17. Current. The current required to be monitored at all times, especially the further you went out, in particular around Spar Buoy, where the underwater currents changed very quickly on one particular dive. Also the second wave for a dive on the Soudan Wreck had to move to an alternative site due to an increase in the current strength, which resulted in an unfortunate loss of an underwater camera.
18. Tides. Depth changes due to tides did not affect any sites chosen, however the surge can be very strong, which affects the loading and unloading of dive gear at Guano jetty, therefore it is recommended that a person is appointed as a surge lookout to give warning to the boat handler.
19. New Dive Site. The expedition located and named a new dive sight “Yorkshire Chariots”
GPS co-ordinates 07.55.363 South 014.25.655 West. This site has 4 to 5 upturned wheeled chassis with lots of large fish and sea life. It also has amount of unexploded ordinance which should not be disturbed. The depth range is from 17 to 25 mtrs.
20. Mapping. Admiralty Chart 1691, Ascension Island, can be obtained through normal channels, also current maps of the island can be obtained from Ops at the air head.
21. The expedition took place in 3 phases.
a. Phase 1 – 19 Aug 12. 4 Yorks expedition members assembled at A Coy, Mona house for the move to the airhead: External unit members met the group at the airhead. Travel from the airhead to Ascension took approximately 8 hours, arriving local time at 08:00 on 20 Aug 12.
b. Phase 2 – 20-30 Aug 12. Diving was conducted iaw with references C,E, F, G and H. Air breaks programmed as required.
b. Phase 3 – 31 Aug-1 Sept 12. Recovery, clean and hand back the expedition centre and vehicles. Depart Ascension Island – arrive back at RAF Brize Norton and disperse to parent units.
22. Ground Transport (UK). 4 Yorks personnel moved by unit mini bus and van to and from the airhead. External unit personnel arranged their own transport.
23. Ground Transport (ASI). Transport on Ascension Island consisted of two vehicles, a 7 seater Landrover supplied from the ASI MT at the airhead for a set charge, this was refueled at the air head POL point. The second vehicle was a hilux 4 x 4, 5 seater, with a tailgate, supplied from the local civilian contractor at the Obsidian hotel. This was arranged prior to the expedition, including completing insurance details. Both vehicles were collected at the air head. The hilux vehicle was used to move dive gear to and from jetty, however it could not accommodated all 12 sets in one lift, I would suggest, if funds allowed, a second vehicle be hired as this would allow all dive gear to be dropped off in one lift, also all baggage could be lifted from and to the air head in one lift.
24. RAF Air Transport. Once in receipt of the JSATFA and the admin instruction, including the nominal roll, WO,OCMovs/Base /Exped Coord ASI, booked air movement for the 12 Expedition Members. Flights were not confirmed until 48 hrs before departure (normal). Flights now attract a CNFP charge, iaw JSP800 Vol2 Ed5 Pt2 Ch2. This is paid for at RAF Brize Norton departure lounge, the cost was £150 per person for the round trip.
25. Baggage Allowance. Standard Baggage allowance is limited to 20kg per person, An excess baggage allowance of 16kg per expedition member on both outward and inward flights was authorized and confirmed by DPRC and a confirmation email sent. This may seem high however because we took all spare expedition gear in 4 separate dive bags, this worked well. However on arrival at Brize Norton this excess was not showing on the system, although once I showed them the confirmatory email this problem was sorted.
26. Accommodation. All members of the expedition were accommodated at Travellers Hill. This consisted of one large block of 3 / 4 man rooms with separate ablution blocks, all bedding is proved. There is no air conditioning only electric fans, which sufficed due to the time of year. Mosquito repellant is a must, although there is no malaria threat they still bite.
27. Messing. Breakfast and evening meals were taken in the combined Mess at Travellers Hill, packed lunches were collected at breakfast, having booked them on the day of arrival. BBQ supplies can be ordered in lieu of an evening meal (Minimum 48 hrs notice) at no extra cost, however extras can be ordered which were very reasonably priced. The standard of food was exceptionally high and the staff could not have been more helpful. All personnel are entered on to JPA ration roll and all 4 Yorks members had a move and track form filled in and signed to allow the SFA to claim LSSA and LOA for entitled personnel.
28. Expedition Centre English Bay. This is located approximately 25 minutes from Travellers Hill. The accommodation portion of the buildings is not in use, however the expedition had access to a briefing room / kitchen, a large kit store, and compressors (air and nitrox), ablutions and POL store. Water here is on a meter which is read on arrival and departure, attracting a separate utility bill payable at the air head pay office. Facilities were more than adequate, however have seen better days, and the mice were in abundance, which we attempted to stop using mouse traps supplied from the air head.
29. Dress. Dress for the duration was civilian clothing. All personnel must ensure they have an adequate supply of sun protection as even under clouds the UV index is very high.
30. Equipment (Bicester). 12 complete sets of equipment, together with an air analyzer to check the compressors air purity were obtained from Bicester and all was in reasonable condition. This equipment was collected by the expedition leader who arranged for the SADS to be present at the time of collection, to check the serviceability of the gear, as a result of which some of the regulators were changed then and there. Instructors were permitted to take the own kit.