FirstSpear TV

Archive for the ‘Maritime’ Category

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Seahawk 2

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

The SCUBAPRO Seahawk 2 was redesigned and improved in 2019. It is an all-purpose back inflation BCD features a new ergonomic shoulder design with rotating buckles and a new soft, reinforced backpack; this makes the improved Seahawk 2 much lighter than its predecessor and extremely easy to fold and pack. The stainless-steel Super Cinch tank band is positioned a little lower than before, and an additional hook and loop strap has been added to secure the tank when diving. Other new features include a 2″ (50mm) waist strap with a lightweight cam buckle, redesigned cargo pockets, and a new range of airway and valve fittings. Offering a streamlined shape yet substantial buoyant lift when needed, the Seahawk 2 is the perfect choice for divers looking for freedom of movement, comfort, and stability when cruising the depths. Quick-release shoulder buckles and adjustable shoulder straps, adjustable sternum strap, and waist strap all improve fit. All these straps are equipped with squeeze-style” quick-release buckles for easy donning and doffing.

Ergonomic shoulder design with rotating buckles improves fit, helps distribute the load, and enhances stability. Reinforced soft backpack with high-grip tank patch and inner padding add to comfort, reduce overall weight, and make it easy to fold and pack. Super Cinch stainless steel tank band system is positioned lower and teamed with a second hook and loop strap to secure the tank for transport and diving. 2″ (50mm) waist strap with lightweight plastic buckle lets you fine-tune adjustments for a perfect fit. Two large zippered pockets have been redesigned, providing lots of cargo-carrying capability. 1000-denier nylon outer bladder and 420-denier nylon inner, with urethane laminate interior and radio frequency (RF) welded seams for maximum resistance to punctures and abrasion. A high-quality air cell offers a streamlined shape when deflated and substantial buoyant lift when inflated. The BCD provides 54 lbs. (24.5 kg) of lift in all sizes.

Quick-release integrated weight pouches secure with low-profile buckles. Two rear trim pouches help create a comfortable swimming position. Pouches accommodate 12 lbs. (5.5 kg) each. Two back trim pockets counterbalance front weights and provide a well-balanced swimming position with 10 lbs. (4.54 kg) capacity. BC comes equipped with a Balanced Power Inflator (BPI). SCUBAPRO’s BPI’s, corrugated hose, elbow, and low-profile dump valves using the latest technology for full safety and comfort. The BPI is equipped with a cable-activated pull-dump mechanism on the left shoulder. There are a right shoulder and right lower rear over-pressure relief/pull-dump valves, both equipped with pull cords for ease of trimming buoyancy.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Salvage Divers of the USS Cole, the Untold Story of the Navy Divers Who Recovered the Fallen, Help Save the Ship

Sunday, October 17th, 2021

Detachment Alpha of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 aboard the USNS Catawba with the USS Cole and the MV Blue Marlin in the background. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

On the morning of Oct. 13, 2000, Chief Warrant Officer Frank Perna and his team of US Navy divers were sipping cappuccinos at an open-air coffee shop, enjoying a beautiful Italian morning in the Port of Bari, when the distinct ringtone of Perna’s cell phone cut the casual banter and light mood.

The divers, deployed with Detachment Alpha of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 aboard the USNS Mohawk, turned their attention to their officer in charge as he picked up the phone and listened intently. Mike Shields, now a retired master chief master diver, could tell the call was serious.

“I understand,” Perna said into the phone before hanging up. “We will be ready.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, the USS Cole, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, was docked in Yemen’s Aden harbor for a planned refueling when al Qaeda suicide bombers in a small boat packed with at least 400 pounds of explosives steered their craft into the Cole’s left side. The blast ripped a 1,600-square-foot hole in its hull, killing 17 American sailors and wounding 39.

Aqueous Film Forming Foam flame retardant floats on top of the water, preventing any fuel from igniting near the damaged left-side hull of the USS Cole in October 2000. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

A skilled diver with extensive experience in underwater salvage and recovery operations, Perna had worked on several high-profile dive operations. He participated in salvage and recovery operations for Trans World Airlines Flight 800 and the USS Arthur W. Radford after its collision at sea with a Saudi Arabian container vessel.

Perna looked up at his team, who stared back with anticipation.

“The USS Cole was damaged from an explosion while in port,” he told them. “We are going to Yemen to assist the crew in recovery and salvage of the ship.”

The 12 men who composed Detachment Alpha launched into planning and preparing for a daunting mission: They would locate missing sailors, assist in stabilizing the ship, recover evidence, and perform structural inspections of the Cole after a terrorist attack.

“We immediately started pulling resources and gear to support several different diving and salvage scenarios,” Shields told Coffee or Die Magazine recently. “Because we were going to be somewhat isolated in Yemen, we knew everything we brought had to serve several purposes.”

The USS Cole (DDG-67) is towed by the Navy tug vessel USNS Catawba to a staging point in the Yemeni harbor of Aden to await transportation by the Norwegian-owned, semi-submersible heavy-lift ship MV Blue Marlin. US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Don L. Maes.

The next day, the hand-picked team of Navy divers landed in Yemen with all the necessary dive systems to support the numerous planned and unplanned tasks of diving into and under a critically damaged ship. They loaded their gear onto two flatbed trucks and departed the airport with a sketchy Yemeni military escort. As they passed through several military checkpoints, Perna and his team began to feel the gravity of the situation.

When they arrived at the port, most of the team went to work setting up gear and readying a dive site near the ship while Perna and his senior leaders went to assess the damage. The sight shocked them. The ship was blackened by the explosion, listing slightly to the left, and without electrical power. The only light was from the green glow of the pier lights.

“Our first glimpse of the ship that night will be forever fixed in our minds,” Perna told Coffee or Die.

As Shields took in the damage and saw the Cole’s battle-weary crew members sleeping on mattresses scattered randomly on the ship’s weather decks, his shock turned into determination.

Sailors from the USS Cole rest on the helicopter deck in Yemen, Oct. 13, 2000, the day after a suicide bomber attacked the ship in the port of Aden, Yemen. US Navy photo by Jim Watson.

“Get in the water,” he thought. “Get the Cole back.”

On the morning of Oct. 15, 2000, the divers began the first phase of their mission. Several sailors were still missing in the flooded spaces below, and the men of Alpha Detachment had to get them out and repair or salvage what they could as soon as possible.

With flooding in the ship still posing a significant threat to electrical and engineering spaces, time was not on Alpha’s side. They determined which areas of the ship to search, identified a centralized location to set up a dive station, and planned how to safely enter the spaces they needed to reach. They boarded the Cole, set up gear, and began diving from inside the flooded spaces.

With the utmost care and respect, the Navy divers recovered missing Cole sailors. When a sailor was recovered, the divers paused their work to observe a moment of silence and honor the dead. They draped a flag over each fallen soul and escorted them down the pier to be taken back home.

“It’s a very heavy feeling in your heart to see one of your own covered in the flag,” Perna said. “It’s hard to check your emotions and refocus attention back to the task at hand, but you’ve got to push it back down because we’re doing a dangerous job.”

Gunner’s mate Petty Officer 2nd Class Don Schappert prepares to enter the lower levels of the flooded engine room assisted by hull maintenance technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett Husbeck. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

In addition to recovering the fallen, Alpha had to stop the flooding into the only engine room that was still operational. Reaching the damaged area required navigating through 50 feet of razor-sharp mangled steel, reduced visibility, and a thick layer of engine fuel building on the surface of the water. To get in and out of the water, the Navy divers had to travel through a layer of oil that they worried might catch fire if something sparked. The team deployed a fire retardant over the surface as a preventive measure.

Shields, who was familiar with the layout of the Cole from conducting routine maintenance on the ship the previous year, was one of two divers who suited up, went below the surface through an auxiliary shaft, and made their way slowly to the engine room. They couldn’t see anything and kept bumping into loose gear and debris floating around the spaces.

Making things even worse, the divers’ life-giving tether lines of air, communication, and light power — their “umbilicals” — were constantly hanging up or snagging on unknown obstructions. With every valuable foot gained, the divers had to stop to free themselves.

“We were blindly feeling around for landmarks that would take us to where we thought the flooding was coming from,” Shields recalled.

Using memories of what the engine room would have looked like, Shields and his dive buddy felt around and found landmarks to orient themselves by, eventually finding the cause of the flooding. They filled it with a 3-inch braided ship’s mooring line covered in a thick layer of electrical putty.

“We filled in the crack and effectively stopped all flooding,” Shields said.

Stopping the flooding saved the ship from sinking and prevented what could have been a total loss.

Mike Shields descends into a flooded engine room through a ventilation shaft on the USS Cole in October 2000. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

The next day, the Cole’s diesel generator stopped running, and members of the dive team had to locate and secure the damaged piping and reroute pressure through alternate channels back to the generators. Navigating underwater in the damaged area again proved challenging. Bulkheads were blown inward, all non-watertight doors had broken from their hinges, filing cabinets lay scattered across the deck, and visibility was reduced to less than 3 inches.

The Navy divers spent a lot of time rerouting valves controlling pressure, fuel, oil, or air to their secondary and tertiary systems to help offset the ship’s left-side listing. With the major flooding stopped and the Cole stable, the team focused on reviewing and assessing the massive opening the blast had ripped in the left side of the ship’s hull.

“It was nothing less than devastating,” Perna said. “The most disturbing sight was the extensive damage inside the ship. The blast from the explosion had torn 30-35 feet into the center of the ship.”

The explosion was so powerful that the deck had blown upward and fused onto the bulkhead where an office once sat. Crew members who’d been eating on the mess decks reported that the blast’s power created a visible wave that traveled across the deck.

The divers created a staging area just aft of the blast area on the Cole’s left side so they could easily access the outside space and assist the FBI and several other agencies in gathering information and documenting evidence for future investigations.

Hull maintenance technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett Husbeck, left, and engineman Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Shields, right, conduct dive operations in a flooded engine on the USS Cole. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

Outfitted with thick rubber wetsuits, dive knives, and iconic yellow Kirby Morgan MK 21 diving helmets, divers splashed into the hot Persian Gulf water and entered the blast area.

“Everything was surreal about diving on board and into a ship with an extensive hole in the side of its hull,” Perna said. “The fact that you can dive inside the ship, turn around, and see the sunlight cascading into the enormous space is beyond explanation.”

On Oct. 17, 2000, Navy divers prepared to search the flooded main engine room, which suffered extensive damage in the blast and was essentially a total loss. Confirming primary and secondary routes with engineers and the crew, Perna and his team devised a plan to move through the ship’s ventilation-shaft system to access the previously unreachable space.

Before entering the cramped shaft, divers wrapped fire hoses around their umbilicals for protection, modified their gear to slim down their profiles, and slipped into wetsuits to protect themselves from the environmental hazards of fuel, oil, and razor-blade-like steel. The divers inched their way to the main engine room, a feat Perna and Shields likened to John McClane crawling through the ventilation shafts of Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard.

Damage to the USS Cole. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

Watching closed-circuit video systems, engineers from the Cole and the USS Donald Cook guided the Navy divers as they moved through sheared bulkheads, buckled decks, broken pipes, and wires that created an immense “spider web” of destruction. Metal shavings sparkled as the divers’ lights scanned the engine room.

“We could feel the change in densities between fuel and water,” Perna recalled. “Everything fouled our umbilicals in the engine room. Pieces of broken equipment fell from the overhead as we disturbed their delicate balance.”

In that unforgiving, stifling space, the men of Detachment Alpha recovered three more missing sailors.

Over the following 10 days, from Oct. 18 through Oct. 28, the Navy divers recovered personal items from the flooded spaces and sifted through the fine sand on the seafloor for anything that might have belonged to the fallen. They searched every flooded compartment, including areas deemed too dangerous to enter safely, recovering all remaining missing sailors and assisting FBI investigators in collecting evidence. The divers inspected every inch of the blast area, looking for evidence of the explosive device. The FBI was keenly interested in anything that might help its investigation to identify the terrorists or the composition of the bomb.

A diver descends a ladder in the flooded engine room. Photo courtesy of Mike Shields.

The Navy divers also worked to mend damaged areas of the Cole and helped prepare the ship for its journey back to the United States. They relieved pressure in the main structural supports by drilling holes at the ends of the significant cracks, alleviating stress and preventing the damage from spreading. Once the necessary repairs were made, the team prepped the ship for a journey out to sea.

The challenge was to keep the ship from listing over to the left side. The Cole’s crew worried that the repairs made to stop the flooding might be damaged once in the open ocean.

“We had the idea to hedge our bets and have some contingencies in place if something happened,” Shields said.

The USS Cole is towed from the port of Aden, Yemen. Photo courtesy of the US Navy.

They ran several hydraulic pumps to the critical spaces and had discharge lines over the side in case a space started to fill with water.

On Oct. 29, the USS Cole slowly moved away from the pier with a small crew aboard to monitor the ship. Supported by tugboats and a tow line from the USNS Catawba, the Cole made the journey from the coast of Yemen to the MV Blue Marlin, a 700-foot-long Norwegian heavy-lift transport ship 23 miles out at sea.

When the Cole reached the Blue Marlin, the Blue Marlin partially submerged its lower deck and floated it under the damaged Cole. Once in place, the ship slowly rose to the surface, gently lifting the Cole from the ocean and resting the mighty ship on the Blue Marlin’s deck.

The MV Blue Marlin transports the USS Cole from Yemen following the attack on the ship in 2000. Photo courtesy of the US Navy.

With the Cole on the Blue Marlin, Shields and his divers checked the ship for flooding once more and found that their work had held. Shields gave the thumbs-up to higher, climbed the side railing, and dove into the ocean, swimming back to his team on the Catawba.

The entire docking evolution took nearly 24 hours to complete. With the Cole securely aboard the Blue Marlin’s deck, they made the trip back to the United States.

The Navy divers’ contributions were instrumental, Perna said. In a small amount of time, the team got the diesel generator back online, rerouted the ship’s air system, set up and operated emergency dewatering equipment, and provided air recharging service to the FBI and explosive ordnance disposal divers.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Cole arrives for a scheduled port visit to Souda Bay, Greece, July 19, 2012. The Cole, home-ported at Naval Station Norfolk, is on a scheduled deployment and is operating in the US 6th Fleet area of responsibility. US Navy photo by Paul Farley.

“No one person can accomplish them alone,” Perna said. “I was grateful to have such a fine and experienced diving and salvage team. I am indebted to and extremely proud of the divers in Detachment Alpha who made it all possible.”

The Detachment Alpha divers safely conducted 37 dives with more than 76 hours of subsurface work during the Cole operation. The ship was fully restored to service within 18 months of the attack in Yemen. The men of Detachment Alpha played a vital role in the operation that ensured the USS Cole’s ability to sail freely today.

A US sailor visits the USS Cole Memorial on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the ship. Seventeen sailors were killed, and another 39 were wounded in the attack. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert.

The Men of Detachment Alpha:

CWO3 Frank Perna
ENCS (MDV/SG) Lyle Becker
BMC (SW/DV) David Hunter
ETC (SG/DV) Terry Breaux
HMC (DV) Don Adams
HT2 (DV) Don Husbeck
GM2 (SS/DV) Roger Ziliak
STG2 (SW/DV) Donald Schappert
IS3 (DV) Greg Sutherland
EN2 (DV) Mike Shields
BM2 (DV) Mike Allison
GM3 (DV) Sean Baker

This is reposted with permission from Jayme Pastoric

SHOP Show Raeford – Patriot 3 Hammerhead Subsurface Multi-Mission Vehicle

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

The Hammerhead Subsurface Multi-Mission Vehicle is the latest addition to Patriot 3‘s subsurface capabilities.

It can be used to deliver a diver who pilots the vehicle, or set to autonomously deliver material.

Batteries fill the middle section and range and loiter time can be increased by adding sections to the Hammerhead SMV with additional batteries.

More information coming soon.

A New Era in Combatant Craft Has Arrived

Monday, October 4th, 2021

(Washington, D.C.) – The Whiskey Project, an Australian Veteran-owned company known for defense watercraft innovation, is proud to globally reveal a new era in combatant watercraft – the WHISKEY Multi Mission Reconnaissance Craft (WHISKEY MMRC).

WHISKEY MMRC redefines combatant craft, integrating a high-performance hull, a fully modular design for multiple mission configurations, and a technology suite of game-changing, advanced systems and sensors. The purpose-built features provide unprecedented end-user safety, multi- mission adaptability, interoperability, mobility, survivability, and lethality across contemporary maritime environments such as the Indo-Pacific region. “Every detail of the WHISKEY MMRC was purpose built and designed for end-user safety and mission success,” said Darren Schuback, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Whiskey Project, an Australian high-performance watercraft company. “We are providing end-users with an advanced hull technology that significantly enhances human performance, safety, and the ability to integrate modular features and host advanced systems and sensors, so the warfighter can control the advantage in the operational maritime environment.”

Designed by warfighters for warfighters, WHISKEY MMRC is doctrinally developed to provide maneuver from the sea to support reconnaissance and counter reconnaissance, surveillance, collections, target acquisition, interdiction and battlespace shaping operations. The foundation of the WHISKEY MMRC – its high-performance hull – underpins the watercraft’s ability to undertake these diverse mission sets while reducing slam loading to personnel by up to 40%. The reduction in slam load increases safety and stability during intense maneuvering, while enhancing fuel efficiency, payload, and workable deck space with a significantly increased size to effect ratio.

Coupled with WHISKEY MMRC performance is the WHISKEY HORIZON STRIKETM technology suite, a game-changing low signature Sense First, See First, Strike First solution that combines advanced maritime systems, sensors and effectors with proven in-service tactical networks and situational awareness tools. Developed by Aries Defense in partnership with The Whiskey Project, WHISKEY HORIZON STRIKE is fundamentally integrated into the WHISKEY MMRC design, facilitating enhanced operational awareness, command and control, and coordination of multi-domain effects to provide Commanders with decision dominance.

“The doctrine drove the design”, said Darren Schuback, “and the Whiskey Multi Mission Recon Craft will transform how combatant craft and crew operate, providing an unparalleled level of joint capability, operational agility, affordability and availability.”

“I’ve been in the fight, and this is the combatant craft that we’ve needed,” said Josh Iversen, a U.S. Marine combat veteran, and Business Development Manager at The Whiskey Project. “Our end- users deserve to turn up at the fight fit and ready, not suffering from watercraft-related fatigue and injuries. They need a combatant craft that gives them an immediate advantage, greater survivability, and lethality. WHISKEY MMRC is the only watercraft in the world that is purpose built to meet the operational maritime challenges we face today,” continued Iversen.

Named after the military call sign ‘Whiskey’ for Australian Special Forces water operators, The Whiskey Project is a veteran-owned company whose founders – former Australian Navy Special Operations Clearance Divers – set out to create “the watercraft we wish we’d had.” The Whiskey Project is a subsidiary of The Whiskey Project Group, a trusted supplier to the Australian Defence Force. “We know from experience how critical it is for the operation and the end-user to have the capabilities they need when they need them,” said Schuback. “The Whiskey Project watercraft are designed and built specifically for Warfighter and mission needs.”

SCUBAPRO Sunday – APNEA Snorkel

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

There are two schools of thought when it comes to carrying a snorkel when you dive in the civilian world, and I guess in the military world also. It is to carry or not carry a snorkel. You are taught to have one to save air when you are close to the surface for whatever reason so you can use it and not the air in your tank. When I first started diving in the teams, you had to have a snorkel on us. We would get issues a cheap old school “J” type one with the big orange stickers on it you had to peel off and then you would have to cut a couple of inches off of it and keep with you in case you had to work around piers or whatever so you could save O2. Well, I never used it and stopped carrying it as soon as I could. But that doesn’t mean I would have never used it or could have; I choose not to have it.

Like everything else in the world, technology is growing faster and faster. Once a problem is fixed, companies move onto the next one. So, the issues associated with the old “J” snorkel have been fixed; that is not to say that companies still do not make them have them; they are still around. But now there are all kinds of snorkels out there. There are several different types of snorkels Classic (J type), Simi-dry, Dry, and Flexible, to name a few.  

So why carry a snorkel? A snorkel helps on the surface when you are in rough water. You can keep your head in the water and not drink as much seawater when you are just floating waiting to be extracted. It is also useful when you are in the water waiting for a helo pick up, and you are under its rotor wash, or when you are doing a K-duck or a swamp duck. It is also helpful to have when you jumped into the water, and you have to undo some of your parachute lines that might be tanged in your fins or whatever.  It makes it easier to breath on the surface without lifting your head out of the water if you have to swim to a boat or shore for some reason.

Diving in the military is different than as a civilian as you would never leave your snorkel hanging on your mask during a dive. This is why we would cut it down a little so that we could tuck it away or you would hang it off the bottom of your LAR V with heavy rubber bands. But with today’s technology, most companies have one that you can roll-up.  For SCUBAPRO, it is the Apnea Snorkel, it was launched in 2015 for Apnea divers and won the SCUBALAB’s 2015 best buy.

The SCUBAPRO Apnea Snorkel is a foldable/ rollable freediving snorkel design. Made from a soft and flexible non-toxic silicone, SCUBAPRO Apnea Snorkel easily attaches to your mask strap when being used. When not needed, it can be rolled up and stowed away in a pocket. When it’s time to do some more stuff on the surface, it pops right back into shape. The Apnea’s upper barrel can be removed if you prefer to use a shorter pipe. Without question, this is an easy-to-use and very versatile surface breather. Functional yet straightforward traditional “J” Snorkel design. No valves that can leak. It was designed specifically for spearfishing and free diving. The contoured shape of the silicone mouthpiece and the air tube has been ergonomically designed to follow the profile of the spear fisherman’s face to reduce its visibility significantly during the dive. This flexibility is also advantageous when around piers or rocks and rolling it up for storage.

SOFWERX – Unattended Maritime Systems Optical Subsystems Assessment Event

Monday, September 27th, 2021

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM PEO Special Reconnaissance (PEO-SR) Program Management (PM) Office Technical Collection & Communications (TCC), will host an Assessment Event (AE) on 8 November, 2021, to identify technologies and techniques for Unattended Maritime Systems (UMS), in particular the SV-3 Wave Glider. The prototype optical subsystem will be integrated onto the SV-3 in time for a demonstration at a test event in July 2022.

Submit NLT 18 October 11:59 PM ET with details at

SOFWERX to Host Maritime Assault Suit System (MASS) Assessment Event

Monday, September 20th, 2021

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM PEO SOF Warrior (PEO-SW), will host an Assessment Event (AE) 02-03 November 2021 to identify solutions for the Maritime Assault Suit System (MASS) and Lightweight MASS (L-MASS). These suits would be used as a combat/dry suit for the Naval Special Warfare community in maritime, land, airborne, shipboard, and transitional environments.

This program is seeking the following surface dry suit variants: (1) Maritime Assault Suit System (MASS) and (2) Lightweight MASS (L-MASS). These suits would be used as a combat/dry suit for the Naval Special Warfare community in maritime, land, airborne, shipboard, and transitional environments. The MASS and L-MASS must be comfortable, yet durable enough for rugged field use. Weight of MASS not to exceed 5-lbs and L-MASS not to exceed 4-lbs. They must keep the Operator as dry as possible in maritime and all weather conditions, including surface swims and while immersed in 10 feet of water for 1 minute. They should not restrict range of motion for activities including, but not limited to swimming, running, assault movements, and weapons manipulation.

View the Statement of Objectives (SOO) here.

Submit NLT 11 October 11:59 PM ET

Visit for details.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Common Dive skills

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Training like you fight doesn’t mean just having your body armor on when you are on the shooting range, and you should always practice basic skills whenever you get in the water. The best way to become a better diver is to practice and improve on the basic skills constantly. Here are some basic skills you should practice every time you get in the water.


This is one of the most critical skills for every diver to master. Mastering buoyancy is not necessarily a difficult task, but it requires a calm, focused mind and practice. You will consume less air when your buoyancy is on point, and you will not risk shooting to the surface and giving yourself away or, worse, getting injured. To practice your buoyancy, try and be a couple of feet off the bottom of the pool using a body positions simulation to sky diving. Try maintaining the same distance from the bottom and now just using your fins spin to your left, then spin to your right, again holding your positions. Now once you have that, try and move backward, besides just using your fins. This will help you with moving in confined spaces and around piers.


The descent should always be performed slowly and controlled. You will need to equalize the pressure in your ears as you descend constantly; that can mean every 12-18 inches 30-40cm for some divers. Descending too quickly can cause your eardrums to rupture, which can lead to more severe complications. A slow descent will also prevent silting on the bottom, which will decrease visibility. Also, practice your emergency descents. It will be the same as before but faster.  

Clearing Your Mask

At some point, you will get water in your mask. So, it is better to practice in a controlled environment than to have not done it a long time and try and remembered when it is the middle of the night in someplace where you don’t want the water touching your face. If you have water in your mask, follow the clearing techniques you learned in your training. If you need to stop momentarily, alert your buddy so you do not get separated. You should be able to master this essential skill without having to stop. It would help if you also did this, allowing as a minimal number of bubbles as possible. Make sure you practice this when you are learning to use any diver propulsion vehicle.

Emergency Ascents

If you ever find yourself in this situation, you will be happy that you practiced it. It is no different than practicing a down mandrill. Well, other than the fact that you are in the water. Your emergency ascent may require that you share air with your buddy, swim in a controlled manner to the surface, or drop your weights. Practice all types of emergency ascent techniques whenever possible to not panic when a real emergency occurs. Lastly, go over what you would do on the surface if you had to do CPR or render first aid in the middle of nowhere and your dive buddy’s life depends on it.

Hand Signals

Once you start diving with someone, you might come up with some hand signals of your own, like you have your head up, you’re a$$. But the essential hand signals will be used by everyone worldwide. You never know when you will be diving with someone from a partner nation, and that is all you have to go by. So, knowing the basics will help.

Going Up or Down

Use a thumbs-up signal to indicate that you are going up or a thumbs down to indicate the opposite.

I’m OK

Place your thumb and forefinger together, forming a circle, and leave the other three fingers extended upright. This is the same as you would say, OK, as you would above water.


Signal your dive buddy to stop by holding up one hand, the same as you would in any other instance. You can also use a closed fist like being on patrol.

Changing Direction

Just like with up and down, point your thumb (or your index finger) to indicate which direction you’re heading. You can tell again like on land.

Turn Around

To let everyone know it’s time to turn around, put your index finger up and rotate in a circle. Similar to rally-up.

Slow Down

Place your hand in front of you with your palm facing down. Wave your hand up and down to indicate that you need everyone to slow down a bit.

Level Off

To indicate that you want to level off once you’ve reached a certain depth, put your hand out in front of you, palm down, and wave it back and forth.

Something’s Wrong

Place your hand out in front of you, fingers spread and palm down. Wave your hand back and forth in a rocking motion. It is similar to the hand signal, maybe.  


Wave your entire arm from outstretched by your side to over your head. Repeat the motion as long as you need to.

How much air do you have?

With the forefinger and middle finger hit in the palm of your hand to ask your buddy how much air is left in the tank. The usual response is in numbers.

I’m Low on Air

It takes practice to be able to make your air last. Clench your hand into a fist and pull it in toward your chest. Repeat as much as you need to indicate how urgently you need to resurface. When diving a rebreather, you should point at the pressure gauge. With some of the newer rebreathers, you can pull your gauge out and show it to your dive buddy if needed.  

I’m Out of Air

Suppose something has gone wrong with your equipment, signal quickly and repeatedly. Place your hand, palm down in front of your throat, and move back and forth in a cutting motion.