Archive for the ‘Maritime’ Category

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Low Visibility Diving

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Diving in low visibility is one of the worst-case scenarios you can find yourself in whether it is in the day time or night time. Sometimes it is a lot worse in the day then at night. I say that because at night you can turn on the backlights on your gauges/ computers to help you see them. In the day, it doesn’t help as much as you would hope/ want. Many things can cause low visibility, bad weather, the type of water you are in diving in a bay, a harbor, swamp, river or third world polluted. It can also be caused by stirred something up. When you stir silt up, it is often called a silt out. This term is used more in the cave/ tech world. Silt-outs happen when you kick up the fine sediment that is found by piers or in enclosed underwater areas, like wrecks, caves, and on the bottom of open water as well, and in particular in lakes.

Silt is a type of granular material that is finer than sand and is often light, much like the type of flour. As it is very light, it is easily disturbed by movement, either from waves, current, or a diver’s body or equipment. It is carried by water currents and accumulates inside areas that are protected like in bays, harbors, and caves. In a combat environment, it is a bad thing for a couple of reasons, and it tells people on the surface that someone or something is disturbing the bottom of the water. If you are lost, it will throw you off your timeline.  

Because the visibility decreases to next to nothing, it can cause buddy separation, free ascents or descents. Inside enclosed spaces, it can be near fatal. We were doing a training exercise in a local military area.

One of the swim pairs got lost inside a Conex box that was in about 20’ of water. It took them two hours to find their way out. With no visibility, it is hard to find your way out of something like that, which can cause panic, which in turn leads to more frantic movement patterns. They did not panic, they kept following seems and found their way out, but it wasn’t easy.  

Avoiding silt-outs

The best thing to do about silt-outs is to avoid them. Buoyancy and trim control is the best way to avoid stirring up silt. Buoyancy will help you stay at a certain depth, and Trim is the ability to stay level in the water, and it will help keep your legs and fins off the bottom. Next is a proper finning technique that goes with the right fin. Try and use a good bent knee cave kick. Make sure you have a fin that can be used for a good cave and frog kick (jet fins and Go Sports) this will help  

keep you from accidentally hitting bottom. Proper training and confidence in yourself and gear will help you if you find yourself in a low visibility situation.

Should you find yourself in a low visibility situation.

1. Trust your gear and your training.

2. Maintain your depth. Notice any pressure changes in your ears from increasing or decreasing pressure and try to bring your dive computer or depth gauge close enough to your eyes to read it.

Sometimes you have to dive in a low vis situation. Like if you are part of a dive team and you are looking for something or someone. Again day time is worst then the night time because it is hard to look at your gauges. However, there is new technology that is out there that can help. A Heads-Up Dive Computer (HUD) can make it a lot easier to read you’re your gauges. A good HUD can tell you your air pressure, depth, Total time of dive, and a lot more. SCUBAPRO’s new Galileo HUD is a full dive computer with a build in GPS. Galileo Heads-Up Dive Computer (HUD). Most HUDs mount to your mask or somewhere you can see it without having to look down at your arm. They help tremendously with low visibility situations. They help you maintain your depth and also help you monitor your air pressure. SCUBAPRO’s can be mounted to different types of masks, it is was designed to be mount to a dual lens mask mainly, but it can also be mounted to the Frameless mask and full face masks, used by most search and rescue teams. I have been diving the SCUBAPRO Galileo HUD for a while now, and nothing beats it when it comes to having to dive in low visibility. It can be used for Search and Rescue, military operations, tech/cave, and recreation.

For more information contact

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Self Adjusting Fin Straps

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Self-adjusting fin straps are one of the best ways to don and doff your fins. It also makes it easier to use different size booties. Steel spring straps are a relatively new product for fins. It was invented by cave divers that didn’t want their rubber straps breaking on them in the middle of a cave. So, they took screen door springs and made fin straps out of them. Typical rubber straps have a good chance of breaking at some point. If you are lucky, it will happen as you are putting them on before a dive, not in the middle of one. While you should always try and carry a spare strap on you, replacing a strap can be a pain in the middle of a dive. 

The spring strap helps avoid most of these problems. Available for many open heel fins, spring straps permanently mount to the fin. Furthermore, spring straps typically attach using rust-resistant metal hardware. SCUBAPRO Steel Spring Straps are available for SCUBAPRO Jet fins, Twin Jet Max, Veloce fins, and the Seawing Nova fins. They are made with High-grade marine steel. These straps can replace the traditional fin strap with the added benefits of being easier to don and doff, and they will compensate at depth for the pressure underwater.  The flexible nature of the spring strap tightens as you descend to compensate for the crush on your boots, meaning your fins stay on at the exact tension you set them to at the surface.




Spring straps are strong springs with a rubber or nylon heel cover for comfort. Instead of having to adjust the tension every time you put them on like with traditional straps, you simply stretch the spring over your heel.  


This decreases your time and energy spent putting on and taking off your fins before and after a dive. Several models of fins now come with spring straps pre-installed, but they can also be added to many fin models.

The other type of self-adjusting straps is made from quality marine-grade bungee designed for years of reliable use. Marine grade bungee is design and construction, making it ideal for prolonged exposure to moisture, sunlight/UV radiation, and the general wear and tear that fins regularly go through. A denier Dacron polyester cover is thick and long-lasting, repelling water and resisting abrasion better than nylon. Made from a top-quality first extruded latex rubber, this bungee has a consistent 100% stretch and high modulus that won’t lose its elasticity as many others do. Bungee straps are depth compensating as they compress when your neoprene boots get thinner due to increased water pressure. Like the steel spring, the bungee is self-adjusting at depth. Upon ascent, they decompress keeping fin straps comfortable throughout the dive. Straps have a large rubber finger loop to aid in donning and doffing. Marine bungee is highly reliable and has a very low percentage of breaking. All this being said, I know you can break it if you “test it” to try and prove me wrong.



Project TOAD Drybag from Colfax Design Works

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Part of CDW’s Project T.O.A.D. collection, (Tactical Operations Amphibious Drybags), this is a 100% waterproof, 40 liter duffle-style bag, with integrated shoulder straps.

Made from coated 500D Cordura in Black or MultiCam and airtight YKK Aquaseal zippers. Features include large main compartment, single interior lash strap to allow for attachment of interior pocket or other modules, multiple exterior lashing points, dual side handles, and exterior locking buoyancy valve.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Buoyancy Compensator Device

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

The buoyancy compensator device is the cornerstone of a SCUBA diving rig.  It holds the tank securely and assists in routing the air hoses.  Its integrated weight system secures ballast weights, and the valve system keeps a scuba diver neutrally buoyant and in control when descending, ascending, and while exploring the depths. The BCD (sometimes just called a BC) is available in three basic styles: jacket, front-adjustable, and back-inflate.  Determining which is the best BCD for you depends on where you’re going to use it, along with your diving style and skill level. 

The Scuba Vest

The jacket-style BCD was diving’s original buoyancy compensator design and is still very popular among divers, from the newly certified to the veteran.  Easy to use, it offers lots of lift capacity and requires minimal adjustment.  When SCUBAPRO unveiled the first stabilizing or “stab” jacket over forty years ago, it revolutionized the diving BCD market.  Providing unequaled stability, its unique design uses unrestricted internal passageways to allow air to flow throughout the jacket and accumulate at the highest point.  This makes for a stable ride under water and a comfortable and relaxed face-up floating position on the surface.  A direct descendant of the original “stab” jacket, SCUBAPRO’s modern Classic jacket-style dive BCD combines the best design and construction features of past and present.  Built tough, armed with a first-class valve system and offering an outstanding buoyant lift, the Classic is the original jacket-style BCD, and still one of the best.  “Stab” jacket fans include dive instructors, technical divers, commercial divers, and military divers. 

The Front-Adjustable BCD

A front-adjustable BCD provides a sense of comfort and security that can transform your dive from one of trepidation to total self-assurance.  With the ability to adjust shoulder, chest and waist straps to achieve the perfect fit, and with air cells positioned under your arms and around your waist, a front-adjustable BCD hugs you. An excellent example of a front-adjustable design is the Glide.  Ideal for all types of SCUBA diving, when it comes to comfort, fit, and performance, this buoyancy compensator sets the bar.  Its innovative Y-Fit shoulder design delivers exceptional comfort, control, and range of motion.  Stable both at depth and while floating on the surface, it is popular with new divers, experienced divers who dive infrequently, and divers who like the idea of being surrounded in comfort.  

The Back-Inflate BCD

A back-inflate BCD, like the name implies, positions its air cell behind you.  By doing so, front-body bulkiness disappears, leaving an uncluttered chest area, and hydro-drag is radically reduced, creating a feeling of total diving freedom.  Compared to other BCD designs, this can feel like you’re diving with no equipment at all.  Back-inflate BCDs, like the Seahawk 2 or the unique HYDROS PRO, considered the best back-inflate BCD, also tend to place you in the optimum swimming position at depth naturally, and wearing one you will never suffer from body squeeze.  Advanced divers, travel divers and photography models are enthusiastic devotees of the back-inflate BCD.  However, having your buoyancy behind you tends to push you forward on the surface and requires that you pay a bit more attention to your trim weights. This can easily be accomplished with practice, but it’s why the back-inflate BCD tends to be favored by more experienced divers.

The General-Purpose BCD vs. Travel BCD vs. Hybrid BCD

General-purpose SCUBA BCDs are loaded with comfort features like padding and neck rolls and depth-compensating cummerbunds.  They also offer high lift capacities and big weight ditch systems able to hold lots of ballast weight. These BCDs are ideal for temperate to cold-water diving where thick wetsuits or dry suits are required for thermal protection.  If you do most of your diving near home in lakes, quarries or high latitude oceans, these diving BCDs will do the trick.  The above-mentioned Classic jacket-style and Glide front-adjustable are both excellent examples of general-purpose BCDs. Also, a good choice is the back-inflate Seahawk 2. It is built rugged for cold-water diving and offers a generous buoyant lift.  

If you do most of your diving on vacation or in warm-water locales, a travel BCD would be a good choice.  These SCUBA BCDs are lighter in weight, offer less buoyant lift and smaller ballast weight pouches, and they pack extremely easy.  The Litehawk is a back-inflate BCD designed specifically for dive travel; so is the GO, which is built for traveling divers who prefer the fit and feel of a front-adjustable BCD. 

Of course, many divers divide their diving time between excursions close to home and trips to exotic diving locales.  To avoid diving locally with an under-powered travel BCD, or lugging an over-powered


general-purpose BCD halfway around the world, some divers choose to own two SCUBA BCDs – one for home and one for vacation.  Other divers opt for a hybrid BCD – a SCUBA BCD that, by virtue of its unique design attributes, can perform as well in local waters as it does in distant tropical waters.


If going hybrid sounds like your kind of diving, there is no better example of a first-rate hybrid BCD than the innovative HYDROS PRO.  A real breakthrough in dive comfort and convenience, the HYDROS PRO includes both a full-sized integrated weight system and Trav-Tek harness straps.  With a quick switch of clips, you can transform a powerful fully weight integrated temperate or cold-water scuba BCD into a lightweight and streamlined harness travel BCD.  Modular in design for a lifetime of diving and fully customizable, you simply have to see this SCUBA BCD appreciate all it offers fully.  The HYDROS PRO is an incredible feat of SCUBAPRO engineering.


Best Women’s BCD

Buoyancy compensators are generally considered unisex SCUBA equipment.  For example, the above-mentioned jacket-style Classic and back-inflate Seahawk 2 and Litehawk, as well as the front-adjustable X-Black and Equalizer, can all be worn by both male and female divers. However, women are unique in size and shape, and they often face difficulties finding a BCD that fits right, provides good stability, and is easy to control in the water.  For this reason, there are buoyancy compensators available that are specifically designed, tailored, and sized for female divers.  On these BCDs, you’ll find smaller air bladders, shorter inflator hoses, and curved shoulder straps, to name just a few of the modified features intended to deliver a more comfortable and secure fit while diving the depths.  The Bella is an excellent example of this refined design approach.  Ideal for all types of SCUBA diving, this durable buoyancy compensator outshines all other front-adjustable female-specific BCDs when it comes to exceptional comfort, fit, and performance.  Moreover, for back-inflate BCD aficionados, there is the one-of-a-kind HYDROS PRO, which is also available in a model designed especially for women.  


The Back Plate and Wing

While not SCUBA BCDs in the traditional sense, backplate systems perform the same important buoyancy control device tasks – they take a different approach in doing it.  A standard backplate system consists of three basic components: a SCUBA back plate to hold the tank, a diver’s harness to strap the back plate to the diver, and an air cell, or dive wing, to provide the buoyant lift.  Put them together, and you have a backplate system.  A typical system, for example, would be an X-Tek Back Plate in either stainless steel or aluminum, an X-Tek Donut Wing air cell, and an X-Tek Form-Tek diver’s harness.  While suitable for any divers, these systems are most commonly used by technical divers, and they are designed for either single or double tank configurations.  They are modular, so you can mix and match the right type of back plate to the right sized wing for your type of diving, plus they are incredibly stable and offer advantages in distributing ballast weight. 

Jacket-style, front-adjustable, back-inflate. General-purpose, travel, hybrid.  Also, don’t forget the backplate system — lots of different choices for so many different divers and so many different diving styles.    



SCUBAPRO Sunday – D-Day Navy Combat Demolition Units, The Frogmen of D-Day

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

When the U.S. entered WWII, the Navy knew it would need men that would have to go in to reconnoiter the landing sites, locate and destroy obstacles and defenses. The Army and Navy established the Amphibious Scout and Raider School at Fort Pierce, Florida in 1943 to train men in the specialty of amphibious raids and tactics. Most of these men used their skills throughout North Africa, the Pacific, and the Normandy landings. In 1943, the Navy created a large dedicated force for this task called the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, or NCDU, that were also trained at Fort Pierce, Florida.

The Navy had a significant role in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion. However, long before that day, the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) had to perform pre-invasion recons of the beaches and shore placements, even going as far as to bring buckets of sand back to make sure the beach could support the specialized amphibious tanks that would go ashore to provide close-in gun support. The Navy’s role in D-day was to provide shore bombardment, the follow-up gunfire support, plus transporting and landing many of the Army troops who stormed ashore.

The Naval Beach Battalions were naval elements of the Army Engineer Special Brigades for the invasion of Normandy. NCDUs were formed up about one year before D-Day. They were made up of 1 officer and 5 enlisted men. They trained alongside the Scouts and Raiders at Fort Pierce. They were organized by Lt. Cdr. Draper Kaufman, an explosives expert, with the specific goal of clearing beach obstacles.

In Late 1943, 10 NCDUs had arrived in England from Fort Pierce, FL, to meet and train with their British counterparts for future missions. In early 44, the units split and joined with the 2nd, 6th, and 7th USN Beach Battalions, the organizations, set up to coordinate and facilitate the Army landings. At this time, eight additional six-man units arrived from the U.S. to be split among the Beach Battalions.

The NCDU men were not the Frogman you would see in the movies of the same name. They were more like the man you would see in the movie Carlson’s Raiders. They mainly operated from rubber rafts and were not expected to spend long periods in the water. They wore fatigues, combat boots, and steel helmets. The men were in excellent physical condition but operated mainly in shallow water.

The more recons that were done on Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” showed it becoming more formidable by the months. So as new personal from Ft Peirce arrived and the subsequent arrival of some Army Combat Engineers enabled each of the NCDUs to double in size. In April, of 44 the officers leading the Navy units and their Army counterparts were briefed about a hypothetical long, wide gradual sloping sand beach with a 25-foot tide change.

On that beach, and extending into the surf, they could expect minefields and a variety of devilishly designed obstacles placed to block and cripple landing craft. To clear the beach, the invasion planners envisioned an aerial and naval bombardment sweeping the coastline. Then the initial wave of infantry, supported by specially designed amphibious tanks, would land during low tide after dawn and rush to secure the beaches. Following in their wake, the NCDUs would land with a mission to blow a 50-yard gap in the German obstacles and place markers so landing craft coming in later that morning at high tide would have a straight, unobstructed path leading to the beach.

The Americans were assigned beaches “Utah” and “Omaha.” At 0630, H-Hour, on the morning of June 6, 1944, 11 NCDUs came in with 8th Infantry Regiment at Utah. With the Army securing the beach, the Navy demolition men went to work and quickly blew eight 50-yard gaps and had enough time to expand one gap to 700 yards. This allowed successive waves of troops, ashore and quickly secured a substantial beachhead by midday.

Four sailors were killed on Utah, and 11 others were wounded. Because of their efficient work, the units on Utah beach received a Navy Unit Commendation.

At Omaha, the Germans were better entrenched and had built a more robust network of obstacles. Sixteen teams, each with 7 Navy and 5 Army engineers tasked with clearing fifty-foot-wide corridors through the beach obstacles. One of the first teams ashore was wiped out as it landed, and another lost all but one man as it prepared to set off its lengths of twenty-pound explosive charges. Casualties were appalling: of the 175 NCDU men at Omaha, thirty-one were killed and sixty wounded—a 53 percent loss rate. It also didn’t help that the pre-invasion air and sea bombardments mostly missed their marks. As a result, the invaders were savaged by heavy artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire that ripped into the NCDU landing craft. Also, choppy seas swamped many of the amphibious tanks, depriving the invaders of needed of close-in firepower. However, the survivors succeeded in clearing five main channels through the obstacles and three partial channels before the rising tide forced them to withdraw. By the end of the day, about one-third of the obstacles had been destroyed or removed.

Through the gaps poured the reinforcements needed to hold off any counter attacks and to take the fight inland. Seven sailors earned the Navy Cross for their work that day. For their heroic actions, the Omaha NCDUs received a Presidential Unit Citation.

On Gold, Juno, and Sword the British beaches the NCDUs relied heavily on Royal Marine commandos specially trained for the task. Their mission and equipment were similar to their American counterparts but owing to less effective defenses; the Marines sustained fewer casualties, then the Americans did.

US Military Purchases Aquabotix Swarmdriver

Friday, May 31st, 2019

Aquabotix awarded an approximately US$150,000 contract to supply SwarmDiver system, training, and test support.

Sydney, Australia and Virginia and Massachusetts, USA – UUV Aquabotix Ltd (ASX:UUV) (“Aquabotix” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded an approximately US$150,000 contract for the purchase of its SwarmDiverTM system along with training and test support for the United States Military. This hardware and services sale will enable necessary government evaluation activities for the Military’s consideration of operational use of the product in theatre.


This award represents the fourth (4th) order placed by the United States Armed Forces related to the SwarmDiver family of vehicles since the product’s launch in April 2018. Chief Executive Officer of the Company, Whitney Million, “We are proud to have this opportunity to provide our SwarmDiverTM solution once more to the United States Military and are optimistic about related future opportunities. We see this award as being significant for a few reasons. First, the award demonstrates a now solid trend of acquisition activity by the United States Military branches – a trend oftentimes followed by other nation’s navies as products become qualified for use. Additionally, the value of this award is significantly larger than those from the United States Military to Aquabotix in the past. While contract values for providing this type of hardware and services support for evaluation activities are generally small, they represent meaningful and necessary steps to progress commercially developed product to a state of full operational use. These facts leave us anticipating potential future, more sizeable orders from both United States and other navies.”

U.S. Military personnel reviewing the SwarmDiver system during the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Naval Technology Exercise in August 2018.

FirstSpear Friday Focus – USA Rash Guard

Friday, May 31st, 2019

The FirstSpear USA Rash Guard is back in stock! Built for FS professional users who work in or near water while wearing personal protective equipment like plate carriers and dive equipment.

Available in short and long sleeve with an ultralight compression fit and high collar that works great to reduce abrasion from slings. Premium materials, smooth flat seams and very fast to dry. 100% made in the USA.

See The SCUBAPRO Galileo HUD at SOF Select

Sunday, May 19th, 2019