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In the final series of Military Divers in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, we explore the Use of various Technologies to Enhance Diving Capabilities within the Organization.

By Petty Officer Monique Deveaux

Being an archipelago chain of islands, The Bahamas should have the technological capabilities to operate in its maritime domain efficiently. This requires taking a strategic look at the best practices and the use of diving technology to enhance the effectiveness of dive operation from a subsurface perspective. Using this approach will by no means eliminate the threat that exists from living in such a domain. However, the use of technology in diving operations will assist in search and rescue efforts or recovering an object or body from the seabed. The use of dive technology such as drones, underwater cameras, and dive computers are just a few additions that can add to the diving experience in enabling divers to strategically plan dive operations.

The use of drones in diving operations can help extend the capabilities of the dive team in analyzing an area of interest while planning an effective and efficient dive plan. Factors such as time and human resources can be effectively managed while narrowing a field of interest or an area of a search. Drones act as an additional eye on a dive expedition and can scan the area faster than human factors. Information gathered can aid in assisting the parties concerned to make informed decisions based on the resultant intelligence gathered. It also helps to narrow a field or area of a search, allowing a diver more time to investigate a particular finding. Lastly, drones enable divers to conserve resources through the process of elimination, such as enabling an area to be strategically mapped out and scanned, rather than a diver physically scanning haphazardly.

Another technology that can extend the operational capabilities of the dive team of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force are underwater cameras. These can assist the Force in performing operational duties such as inspection of a ship’s hull for damages and repairs, or to investigate the integrity of a ship hull. Additionally, underwater cameras help capture still photos and video, thereby exposing multiple parties to the same information aiding in making informed decisions. These are vital tools for recording information, and can be used for compiling future reports of various diving inquiries. Most importantly, because underwater cameras are designed to go beyond extreme depth and still maintain their functions, they have proven to be viable tools for the scuba diving environment.

Dive computers are like the heartbeat of a diver. It’s getting a real-time feed, recording decompression and safe zones. These are technologies which enable a diver to know how long he or she can safely remain at certain depths. With this knowledge, the diver can enhance their diving capabilities by taking this information provided by the dive computer and applying it to the decompression model to trap the dissolved nitrogen in the body during the dive.

Because diving can be dangerous and has many inherent risks, the dive plan must be effectively planned and executed. It requires factoring in the capacities of the divers within an operation plan. Often, military divers are called upon to work at great depths. A great number of divers on station would help to plan a more effective dive operation. It is important to stay with the plan. There’s a motto that divers often use that states, “Plan your dive and dive your plan”. Once this is done, one can almost guarantee that every diver is going to make it to the surface safely and be available to dive another day. Therefore, dive computers are one of the major equipment for extending the capabilities of the military dive team and should be a part of their dive gear.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force dive unit is a fully functioning department that has a cadre of elite divers that are always committed to guarding and protecting the heritage of the Bahamas. Most importantly, the dive team is always ready to expedite their skills as divers in search and rescue efforts. Adopting a strategic approach to extending the diving capabilities of the Force requires the major stakeholder to make a significant investment in training and advance diving certification programs. The Bahamas must have a group of elite divers that are trained to go to great depths of water based on its oceanic environment. Because going deeper changes the dynamics of the diving program, having more advanced equipment, different classes of tanks, and more training are vital to the success of the operation.

Another aspect of being able to go deeper requires having various structures in place to minimize the risk of diving at such depths. Investment in a hyperbaric chamber for the Defence Force Dive Unit is essential as well as, the need for specialized training in dive medicine. In increasing its ability to respond effectively, there must be a collaborative effort with partner military forces within the region. To facilitate training expertise in performing dive training using various hard helmets for performing various work functions at different levels of depth of water should also be used.

While becoming a model of excellence in diving in the region, the Defence Force has made significant strides, but there remains added work as the organization continues to increase its diving capacity and capabilities in becoming a little great navy through the strengthening of its dive program.

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