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       10 – 18 SEPTEMBER 2010


28 Oct 10



1.      Exercise ASCENSION DOWN was a multi unit Sub Aqua Diving Expedition to Ascension
Island for the period 10 – 18 Sep 10. The expedition was organised and run in accordance with
Joint Service Regulations1,2 and BSAC Diving practices. Authority for the Expedition was granted
by HQ Air 22 (Tg) Gp3,4 and Stn Cdr RAF Northolt5. Although, due to Project SHACKLETON, the
Expedition duration was reduced, the aims and objectives of the Expedition were met in full. There
was one incident during the expedition which resulted in injury and required the casualty to be
transported to hospital for treatment and, although the individual was unable to continue diving for
the duration of the expedition, she was released from the hospital the same day.


2.    The aim of the expedition was to develop leadership and teamwork skills in a challenging
Sub Aqua diving environment.


3.           Exercise ASCENSION DOWN had 5 objectives:

             a.       To encourage the personal development of individuals through the adventurous
             activity of sub aqua diving.

             b.         To carry out diver training to progress the qualifications of expedition members.

             c.         To consolidate the skills of the qualified divers.

             d.         To promote leadership skills.

             e.         To provide boat handling training for expedition members.


4.           It is recommended that RAFS-AA consider:

             a.    Amending para 2 of the Ascension Island Brief to reflect the requirement to book
             packed meals at least 24 hours in advance (para 8).

             b.     Requesting that Ascension Island provide routine preventative maintenance on the
             boat engines when the time between expeditions is lengthy (para 9).

             c.         Providing spare spark plugs and leads as part of the boat 1st line servicing kit (para

1 Joint Services Diving Regulation Dated Apr 10.
2 AP 3342.
3 JSATFA NH/853/1/PEd/2010/026.
4 20100824-Ex Ascension Down Approval.
5 RAF Northolt administrative Order No 37/10.

            d.      Replacing the, very small, A flags on the boats to improve visibility during diving
            operations (para 9).

            e.    Amending para 3 of the Ascension Island Brief to advise that personnel with a
            Landrover qualification on their F600 bring it in case of vehicle unserviceability (para 11).


5.      The Expedition was conducted over an 8 day period. Seven members of the expedition
travelled from RAF Brize Norton by MoD charter flight departing RAF Brize Norton at 0400 (A) on
10 Sep 10. The remaining 5 travelled from Mount Pleasant Airfield (MPA) arriving at Ascension at
0100Z on 13 Sep 106. Four of the Falklands personnel recovered to MPA on 17 Oct 10 with the
other and the UK contingent recovering to RAF Brize Norton on 18 Oct 10. The UK element
dispersed at RAF Brize Norton. The nominal roll for the expedition is at Annex A.


6.          The record of income and expenditure for the expedition is detailed within Annex B.


7.     The RAFS-AA Ascension Island Expedition Brief on the RAFS-AA website is excellent and
proved extremely useful during the preparation stage of the expedition.


8.     Accommodation and Meals. The expedition was accommodated in the English Bay
expedition centre which provides separate accommodation, toilet and showers for males and
females, a laundry facility, a communal area with fridges and a barbeque area, an equipment room
and compressors for both air and Nitrox charging. Although there is a kitchen at the centre, it has
been condemned and expeditions are not allowed to use it to cook meals. Therefore, breakfast
and dinner were taken at the Travellers Hill Combined Mess who also provided packed lunches
each day7. The requirement to drive to Travellers Hill, a journey of approximately 30 minutes each
way impacted on the diving day, particularly as they stopped serving dinner at 1830. The
expedition held a barbeque on 16 Oct 10 with the food provided by the Travellers Hill Mess.

9.      Equipment. The equipment provided by RAFS-AA was generally in reasonable condition,
although, problems were experienced with the engines on both RHIBs on the first day which could
have been prevented had routine preventative maintenance been carried out on them between
expeditions. Initial thoughts had been that the spark plugs were at fault, there were none in the
expedition centre and GES had to rob another engine to provide replacements. In addition, the
Nitrox compressor was unserviceable throughout the expedition. Further details are contained
within the Equipment Officers report at Annex C. The A flags for the boats are extremely small and
should be replaced to ensure that other boats can clearly see that diving operations are underway.

10.     Medical and emergency equipment. The expedition took emergency oxygen equipment
with the O2 bottles provided by the medical centre. In addition, the medical centre has a plentiful
supply of military sunblock available to expeditions. Mosquitoes were an issue throughout the
expedition but the mosquito nets provided in the accommodation blocks by Ascension Island were
effective provided that you had not zipped the mosquito into the net with you!

6 Weather conditions in the Falkland Islands meant that their arrival was delayed from 11 Sep 10 to 13 Sep 10
7 Expeditions can obtain packed meals for lunch but must give the Travellers Hill Mess staff 24 hours notice of the requirement. This does not, however, need to be
done each day as they are happy to take a single booking covering the duration of the Expedition

11.     Transport. The transport provided by Ascension Island was both appropriate and of a
reasonable standard. The minibus was unserviceable throughout the expedition and Ascension
Island provided a Landrover as a replacement which could only be driven by personnel authorised
on their MT600 to drive a Landrover. Whilst, expeditions can operate without the second vehicle in
extremis, this would impact on the time available for the diving day, not least because of the
requirement to provide a shuttle service to the Travellers Hill Mess. It is, therefore, recommended
that the Ascension Island Expedition Brief be amended to recommend that personnel with a
Landrover qualification on their MT600 bring that document as well as their UK Driving licence.


12.     The diving conditions were generally good throughout the expedition and a wide range of
diving sites were utilised. Full details are contained within the Diving Officer’s report at Annex D.
There was one incident during the expedition which resulted in injury to one of the expedition
members which required temporary hospitalisation. She was released later the same day but was
unable to dive for the rest of the expedition and was returned to UK under the control of the
aeromed staff. The incident was reported in accordance with JS Regulations.

13.     Overall Diving statistics are in the table below, with the detailed diving statistics contained
within Annex D.

                                               Day             Night           Total
             Number of Dive Sites              10              1               11
             Total Number of Dives             128             6               134
             Total Time underwater             4470 mins       184 mins        4654 mins

14.    A daily diary was maintained throughout the expedition and is provided at Annex E.


15.     In addition to completing the open water element of the Ocean Diver course for 3 members
of the expedition, elements of both the Sports Diver, Dive Leader and Advanced Diver courses and
Nitrox training was carried out during the expedition. Details of the training achieved are contained
within the Expedition Training Officer’s report at Annex F.


16.    This expedition would not have been possible without the assistance of WO Greenhalgh of
22 (Tg) Gp and Sgt Jackson and Cpl Town of the PEd Flt RAF Northolt who all played key roles in
ensuring that the necessary clearances and finance were processed despite challenging timelines.
The personnel based at Ascension Island were extremely proactive and supportive both before
and after arrival on island and we would like to thank Wg Cdr Duguid, Flt Lt Croson and Paul
Edwards of GES for their help and assistance throughout. Finally, and by no means least, we
thank the Chefs and staff of the Travellers Hill Mess for their understanding when we turned up for
dinner close to the end of meal time yet again.

Sqn Ldr
Expedition ASCENSION DOWN Expedition Leader


A.      Expedition Ascension Down – Nominal Roll.
B.      Expedition Ascension Down – Record of Income and Expenditure.
C.      Expedition Ascension Down - Equipment Officer’s Report.
D.      Expedition Ascension Down - Diving Officer’s Report.
E.      Expedition Ascension Down - Daily Diary.
F.      Expedition Ascension Down - Training Officer’s Report



RAF Northolt Expedition Members*


22 (Tg) Gp           -     WO AT*
BFSAI                -     PEdO
                     -     Expedition Members*
Ascension Island     -     Stn Cdr
                     -     OC Eng Flt*
RAF Lossiemouth      -     PEdO
                     -     Flt Lt Pickersgill*
RAFS-AA              -     Chairman*
                     -     Diving Officer*
                     -     Expeditions Officer*
                     -     Secretary*

                                                                         ANNEX A TO
                                                                         Dated 28 Oct 10


          Number              Rank                Name                Diver Grade
          5203620Y            Sqn Ldr             Benford             AD
          W1031891            L/Cpl               Blyth               DL
          306413L-2           Flt Lt              Castle              SD
          8029494A            Wg Cdr              Duguid              OD
          25220469            L/Cpl               Kimpton             u/t OD
          30082477            Fg Off              Lindley             SD
          W1039259            Sgt                 Lodge               u/t OD
          8700390H            Flt Lt              Pickersgill         DL
          25164528            L/Cpl               Radford             SD
          25094243            Flt Lt              Raine               AD
          608764E             Fg Off              Ray                 Q-SADS
          N/A                 Flt Lt (Retd)       Saldanha            Q-SADS
          30002727            SAC                 Wrigglesworth       u/t OD

Note: All under training Ocean Divers were qualified to Ocean Diver by the end of the expedition.

                                                                                                           ANNEX B TO
                                                                                                           Dated 28 Oct 10


File reference        NH/853/1/PEd/2010/026                                       Station         RAF Northolt

Command serial no              AIRHQ/049/2010                                     Expedition Nickname              Ascension Down

  Location                     Ascension Island                                      Dates                   10 – 18 Sep 10
Income                                               Amount         Expenditure                                         Amount
Total Personal Contributions                         1093           RAFSAA Equipment Hire Charge                        £900
RAF Northolt Grant                                   1276           Ascension Island Admin Fee                          £2160
HQ BFSAI Grant                                       911            Utilities                                           £220

TOTAL NON-PUBLIC RECEIPTS                            £1093
TOTAL PUBLIC RECEIPTS                                £2187
TOTAL CASH/GRANT                                     £3280          TOTAL PAYMENTS FROM CASH\GRANT                       £3280
Date         Oct 10                                                                          Signature
                                                                                            Name                  BENFORD
                                                                                            Rank                   Sqn Ldr

                                                                                          ANNEX C TO
                                                                                          Dated 28 Oct 10



1.       RAFS-AA provides a range of equipment ranging from basic weights and cylinders through
to the air and Nitrox compressors and boats. There were plenty of weights to support diving
operations for a 12 person expedition and, other than the need for a couple of o-ring changes and
the replacement of an insert, all cylinders were serviceable throughout. The mooring points were
inspected and found to be both secure and in good condition. Problems were experienced on the
first day with both RHIBs and the Nitrox compressor was unserviceable throughout.


2.      Floppy. The floppy provided worked well throughout the expedition and the protective rope
work at the front of the floppy was to a good condition. Whilst not directly equipment, the video
brief on the handling of boats in the English Bay area and loading and unloading techniques for the
floppy was good and covered all the information needed. The only, minor, issue with the floppy
was the need to replace the mooring ropes due to wear and tear.

3.      RHIBS. Both RHIBS had engine troubles on the first day which impacted on the diving on
that day8. Fortunately, as the diving was confined to the English Bay we were able to use the
floppy to support the diving and other than both dives being delayed there was little impact on the
diving operations that day. Investigation on day 2 revealed that both engines had a seized
carburettor butterfly preventing them from idling correctly. Both components had probably failed
due to prolonged exposure to the salt water atmosphere and once they had been freed and
lubricated we experienced no further problems with the engines. There had been some time
between the last expedition and ours which would have degraded the protective measures taken
and, although, we too applied PX24 liberally on departure, the same is likely to happen if the time
before the next expedition is protracted. There is a need for some form of interim preventative
maintenance which could be best provided by GES as a monthly engine test and reapplication of

4.        Engine Spares. Our initial thought was that the engine problems was a result of spark
plug failures and we were surprised to find there were no spare ones either in the engine cover tool
kit, or in the expedition centre, indeed Paul had to rob the spare outboard motor in GES to get us
some. We understand that there should have been some in the expedition centre but, as they are
not included on the handover takeover list, it would not be apparent to GES that the spares had
been consumed unless informed by the relevant expedition.


5.       Nitrox Compressor. Unfortunately, the Nitrox compressor was unserviceable throughout
the expedition. Although, the compressor itself worked, it was not possible to set a Nitrox
percentage9 and the No 3 isolator switch had been broken in the on position. The latter fault was
rectified by GES, however, we were unable to get a viable Nitrox fill and the expedition used the air
compressors throughout the expedition. There were also some anomalies in the operating
instructions for the Nitrox compressors which have been reported to the RAFS-AA Equipment
member separately.

    One RHIB failed on the first dive, the second on the second dive.
    % O2 sensor on the BTROX unit only read 0.5 or 0.6 (whatever the setting on the % setter).
6.      Personal Equipment. Only one failure occurred to personal diving equipment, a
catastrophic failure of a LP hose during a pre dive buddy check. Initial rectification consisted of
replacing the whole regulator set to allow the dive to go ahead. The failed hose was then changed
on return to the dive centre.

                                                                                         ANNEX D TO
                                                                                         Dated 28 Oct 10



1.      The expedition comprised a total of 13 divers:

        a.    Seven divers from UK (2 Qualified-Sub Aqua Diving Supervisors (Q-SADS), 1
        Advanced Diver (AD), 1 Dive Leader (DL), 3 Sports Divers (SD)),

        b.    Five divers from the Falklands Islands (1 AD, 1 DL, 3 trainees working towards the
        Ocean Diver (OD) qualification.

        c.       One diver from Ascension Island (OD).

Because of the ongoing revision to the flight schedule, this expedition was shorter than normal,
with 6.5 diving days for those travelling from the UK, 3.5 days for those from and returning to the
Falklands10, and 4.5 days for one diver who travelled from the Falklands but then on to the UK at
the end of the expedition. This obviously limited the amount of diving that could be carried out.
Furthermore, after the late arrival of the divers from the Falklands due to flight delays, there had to
be a focus on bringing the trainees up to OD standard which was achieved for all of them in the
limited time available11. The diving programme aimed to provide challenging activity and
consolidation of skills for all, and diving training where appropriate and possible.


2.      There are no recompression facilities on Ascension Island, and none off-island that could
be accessed in a reasonable time. Therefore the maximum diving depth is limited to 30m and no
dives which would require decompression stops are carried out. The expedition also carried out
precautionary stops of 3 minutes at 6m at the end of all dives as an additional safety measure.
The expedition used air rather than Nitrox throughout because the Nitrox membrane compressor
was unserviceable. Outboard motor problems on both RHIBs caused some minor disruption to the
diving programme on the first day12. All diving operations were booked out and in by telephone
with the Ascension Island Operations Centre.


3.      The water temperature was a comfortable 24 deg C allowing divers to dive in thin (3mm)
wetsuits, either full or ‘shortie’, and therefore with relatively light weight belts. Underwater visibility
varied from about 8m to 25m+. There was always a wind from the SE, and a swell which varied in
height and direction throughout the expedition. The weather was generally cloudy with some rain.
Unfortunately, the prevailing wind direction generally precluded diving to the East of North Point,
apart from the one day planned to dive Boatswain Bird Island, which necessitated a lengthy and
uncomfortable boat transit, albeit the diving was carried out on the sheltered West side of the
island. Divers rapidly became used to the sea life and the hazards – lots of fish, a profusion of
moray eels, and stone fish – the expedition DO was singled out for a nip on the knee by one
moray! Some divers were also treated to barracuda, tuna, manta ray, turtles, and sharks
underwater, and frequently dolphins and also a whale were seen from the boats.

   This was originally expected to be 4.5 days but bad weather in the Falklands meant that the duration was reduced.
   See Training Report at Annex F for further detail.
   See Equipment Report at Annex C for further detail.

4.     Dive sites were selected from known sites taking into account the weather, which was
faxed to the Expedition Centre every morning by the island met office, transit times, training
requirements, and a progressive build up of local diving experience and depth. Sites chosen gave
experience of reefs, walls, wrecks, and caves. The dive locations were as follows:

Date                      am/pm                     Location                Remarks
Sat 11 Sep 10             am                        Derby wreck, English    Shakedown Dive
                          pm                        Eddies Gulleys,
                                                    English Bay
Sun 12 Sep 10             am                        White Rock
                          pm                        Pyramid Point
Mon 13 Sep 10             am                        English Bay             Training
                                                    Sudan/HMS Tortoise
                          pm                        English Bay             Training
                                                    English Bay             Training
                                                    Red Rock
Tue 14 Sep 10             am                        China wreck
                          pm                        Triangles
Wed 15 Sep 10             am                        Boatswain Bird Island
                          pm                        English Bay             Training
                                                    Guano Jetty, English    Night Dive
Thu 16 Sep 10             am                        Red Rock
                                                    English Bay             Training
                          pm                        Clarence Bay Arch
Fri 17 Sep 10             am                        China wreck

An outline map indicating the site locations is at Appendix 1,


5.     A table giving the diving achieved by each diver, and totals, is attached as Appendix 2.
Two divers suffered from ear problems which affected their diving on one or more days.


6.      Unfortunately, the expedition suffered one diving-related incident on the shore. On Wed 15
Sep we planned 2 dives at Boatswain Bird Island, some 7 miles transit from English Bay. This
entailed the use of North East Bay (about half way) for logistic support:

       a.       A Landrover transported some divers, spare cylinders, and packed lunches there.

       b.     Some divers embarked onto the RHIBs there from the shore to lessen the load in
       the boats up to that point.

        c.   The boats returned there after the first dive with the aim of changing over cylinders
       and having lunch before transiting to Boatswain Bird Island again for the second dive.

       d.     The boats would have offloaded some divers there after the second dive to lighten
       the RHIBs for the transit back to English Bay.

Everything went to plan until the return to North East Bay after the first dive. Having swum ashore
with her diving set one diver attempted to climb a rock cliff about 4m high thinking that this was the
way up to the beach hut. She missed her footing and fell from a height of about 2m, suffering a
dislocated shoulder, and necessitating the calling out of the island emergency services. An
accident report was completed and passed to RAF Ascension and a full Diving Incident Report has
been completed.

   1. Map of Dive Sites.
   2. Diving Statistics.

                    APPENDIX 1 TO
                    ANNEX D TO
                    Dated 28 Oct 10


                                                                                                     APPENDIX 2 TO
                                                                                                     ANNEX D TO
                                                                                                     Dated 28 Oct 10

                                                           DIVING STATISTICS

Name               Number of dives in depth ranges                                             Total number of   Total time
                   0 – 9.9 m         10 – 14.9 m     15 – 19.9 m     20 – 24.9 m   25 – 30 m   dives             underwater
Colin Benford      2                 5               4               0             5           16                502
Sam Blyth          0                 4               3               1             1           9                 348
Mandy Castle       0                 3               2               3             5           13                464
Rod Duguid         0                 2               5               2             0           9                 329
Phil Kimpton       0                 4               1               2             0           7                 273
Zoe Lindley        0                 3               3               2             5           13                484
Georgie Lodge      2                 1               0               1             1           5                 92
Jane Pickersgill   0                 2               5               1             1           9                 315
Dave Radford       2                 1               2               2             3           10                295
John Raine         0                 5               2               2             2           11                382
Dave Ray           1                 1               2               5             3           12                412
Rik Saldanha       0                 4               5               4             1           14                532
Andy               0                 3               3               1             0           7                 226
TOTALS             7                 38              37              26            26          124               4654

                                                                             ANNEX E TO
                                                                             Dated 28 Oct 10


Day One – 10th Sep

1.      The early hours of 10th Sep was spent in the Brize Norton passenger terminal, where we
nearly departed on time. After a lovely flight courtesy of Air Seychelles, with most of the
expedition seated forward in the Pearl Class seats, we arrived at Ascension Island mid afternoon,
where the passengers going on to the Falklands were hurried into the „pen‟ and, after receiving the
arrival briefing, we were let loose to start our expedition. We collected baggage, signed and
collected the Expedition MT and finally we made our way over to English Bay Expedition Centre
where we signed for the centre and diving equipment. It wasn‟t until we met up with Rik, who had
gone to collect the O2 bottles from the medical centre, at our arrivals brief that we realised that we
had left him behind when we went to English Bay. The
arrivals brief mainly concerned how to load the inflatable boat
at Guano Jetty – which looked considerably easier in the
video than in real life, which we found out the next day! We
all went back to the Expedition Centre, folded our beautiful
hospital corners, bumped along the road to dinner at
Travellers Hill and had an early night ready for our first day
of diving the next day.

Day Two – 11th Sep

2.       The day started off well, wheels at 0700 for the trek up and around the big hill to Travellers
for breakfast, dive brief at 0900, in the water for 0930. We were doing so well until we got to
Guano Jetty. The swell proved to test us all that day, after nearly sweeping all our kit into the water
we eventually got into our respective RHIB‟s one of which Rik then proceeded to break, having
decided to try a bit of his mechanical engine fixing knowledge! After faffing with the spark plugs it
later turns out he managed to get 2 of the HT leads reversed… no wonder the engine wouldn‟t
work! We weren‟t having any luck as by the end of the day we had broken the other boat too!
However, we did get everyone in the water, weight checked and familiarised with the brand new
diving environment for most of us. More bad news to come – we heard rumours from the Falklands
that the other half of our Expedition team from the Falklands weren‟t coming due to poor weather
conditions in the Falklands delaying flights in and out and the restrictions associated with their
runway resurfacing. So after our first full day we had broken our 2 RHIBs and had no Sat phone
(this was being brought up from the Falklands by John) – so no diving, half funding for the
expedition centre/water/electricity, the threat of having to pay more for an expedition that we
couldn‟t at that stage dive on, and maybe have to stay another week on the island to actually get a
flight home, whilst still not diving. NIGHTMARE!!

Day Three – 12 Sep

3.       We started off the day with some exciting NITROX exams after our evening lectures – no
rest for the wicked, if we couldn‟t dive we would do the theory dive, rub it in a bit!! Whilst this
was going on Dave and Rik, armed with tools spark plugs and a plentiful supply of PX 24 went off
to see if they could get either of the RHIBs working again. The HT lead snag introduced by Rik the
previous day was discovered almost immediately. However, investigation revealed that the
problem was the same on both engines … a sticking butterfly valve on both engines affecting

engine idling. Liberal spraying of PCX 24 on both engines fixed both engines and the 2 Q-SADS
returned to a heroes welcome. In the meantime, Wg Cdr Duguid, Stn Cdr for Ascension Island, had
also come to our rescue and provided us a sat phone until John arrived with his – diving was back
                                  on! We ventured west around the Island and dived White Rock,
                                  which is called as such because lots of birds have pooped on it, the
                                  time on the surface was not so pleasant, quite smelly. The first of
                                  the second wave of divers carried out the correct protocol on
                                  reaching the surface after a
                                  dive with a big „OK‟ sign,
                                  followed by some crazy
                                  flapping of arms. The first
wave of divers sat in the boat completely oblivious of what
had happened just 20m beneath them for the last 30 minutes.
We quickly realised that they were telling us that there was a
Manta Ray in the water, abandoned ship with mask and
snorkel and watched the most gorgeous, graceful, magnificent
animal in the sea effortlessly swoon around enjoying the scuba
diver‟s bubbles on its tummy for a few minutes before it decided it had had enough. Back to the
Expedition Centre for the yummy packed lunch and cylinders, then west again, a little further to
Pyramid Point. Was it really called that due to, I thought, a dubious looking pointy rock on the
coast? Turns out yes that was why it was called Pyramid Point. Due to our late start to the day we
had a mad dash to dinner that evening and again another boring early late night for us all, apart from
Colin and Dave Radford who were staying up until 1 a.m. to collect John Raine off the Falklands

Day Four – 13th Sep

4.      A super early start to the day for all of us, we were all awoken at 2am when we were all
completely caught off guard with the arrival of all of the Falklands Expedition team appearing in
our rooms! We were graced with an extra hour in bed, wheels for breakfast was a much more
reasonable 0800. Rik‟s wonderful fool proof dive plan for the day was completely shattered with
the appearance of 3 brand new trainee divers and two more qualified divers! The plan was
rearranged we managed to accomplish two dives that day for the qualified divers on the Sudan
Wreck and Red Rock, which is called as such because some bright
spark must of at some point thrown a load of red paint over it - but
the Stn Cdr thought best to double check, “why is it called Red
Rock?”, I'm sure more than one of was thinking it. The trainee
divers achieved 3 of their 4 open water qualifying dives in one day!
Another mad dash to dinner with all twelve of us, starting to feel
more like a proper expedition!

Day Five – 14 Sep

5.      Back to the unearthly 0700 wheels for breakfast, 0830 dive brief, we piled all 13 of us on to
2 boats and headed west around the Island to all dive China Wreck, a good 30 minute boat ride,
which depends on who is driving and the lumpiness of the sea is usually quite enjoyable – Georgie
and I found anyway! Dave Ray always gave a good ole scowl if a Cox misjudged a big lumpy bit
so the boat slammed into the water on the way back down! (They were the best bits really). China
Wreck sank with a load of china on board, however after so many divers wanting to bring home a
souvenir there‟s not so much left there now. The Ocean Diver Trainees really enjoyed their first
proper dive, which of course had a little bit of training thrown in for good measure. On the boat
ride back to English Bay we came across a pod of dolphins, they were so close; they were breaching
the water right next to our boats, one leapt right out of the water in front of our eyes! Second dive
site of the day we headed east out of English Bay to the dive site
„Triangles‟. This site was brilliant for little tunnels and swim-
throughs, although you had to be careful of crayfish with their crazy
long antler/feelers. That evening compromised of the usual charging
of cylinders, writing log books, lectures for our next level of
qualification, swapping underwater photos and the planning for the
next big day to dive Boatswain Island.

Day Six – 15 Sep

6.      Op Boatswain Island – consisted of 2 RHIB‟s and small team on each to endure the rough
waters on the sea and a Landrover across land. The divers from the
Landrover swam out to meet the boats at North East Bay and we carried
on our journey to Boatswain Island. Those of us who had travelled in
the Landrover thought it was quite strange everyone on the boats had
their masks on already – it soon became clear when every second wave
you got a face full of sea water! I even stretched as far as wearing my
snorkel so I could grab a breath of air and not sea water. The waters
calmed as we approached the Island, and in the distance we could see a
sudden vertical spray of water in the air….a Whale! Rik‟s boat was obviously in a hurry to get in
the water to see some wildlife, but Colin‟s patience paid off and we got to see a Whale only about
10 meters away from the boat, it lightly breached the surface with its small dorsal fin and sprayed
from its blow-hole - awesome. During the first dive Colin and Jane saw 3 Galapagos Sharks, quite
                               worrying that the others didn‟t see them, I bet they knew exactly
                               where the rest of us were. First dive on Boatswain Island very
                               successful and we were only a few minutes off schedule when we
                               arrived back at North East Bay to meet the Landover to replace our
                               depleted cylinders.

7.      We were all leisurely making our way to shore with our kit for the cylinder exchange when
we could hear Georgie screaming “MEDIC! MEDIC!”. Unfortunately, Jane, the first person to
reach the shore, had attempted to climb the 4m cliff face and had slipped and had fallen back
landing on her back at the bottom of the cliff. The initial response was swift with the medic
arriving about 15 mins after the call for assistance was placed with Ascension Operations. She
placed Jane onto emergency O2, Entenox was briefly considered but dismissed as inappropriate on
the advice of the expedition divers. One and a half hours later we had Jane still at the bottom of the
slope on the beach with 4 firemen & truck, 2 nurses and
car, 1 policeman and car when a doctor and a nurse in an
ambulance turned up. After the very much needed drugs
were administered to a now slightly happier Jane she was
stretchered off the beach into the ambulance and to
George Town‟s Hospital. The rest of us not really feeling
in the mood to carry on diving headed back home. On
our return, to our relief we found out that Jane was OK,
but had dislocated her shoulder, drugged up to the
eyeballs, she was discharged that evening.

8.      Having missed out on a second dive at Boatswain Bird Island, six of us decided to squeeze
in a night dive in Guano Jetty. With six divers in the water at the same time, it looked like a
Northern Lights display underwater with all the multi-coloured cyalumes and torches. Quite a
strange sensation in the water in the dark, the fish somehow can‟t see you, which freaked a few of
                             us when you can see a seemingly innocent fish swimming straight at
                             you with its teeth showing-thank goodness we dive with buddies - they
                             come in handy to hide behind - thanks Colin! We all treated ourselves
                             after a particularly stressful day with a lovely greasy well deserved
                             burger/pizza/curly fries/spicy chicken wings/garlic bread from the
                             camp‟s NAAFI bar. We all slept very well that night, well apart from
                             poor Jane.

Day Seven – 16 Sep

9.      This morning was the Falkland Team‟s last dive, we dived Red Rock again in hope of
seeing another Manta Ray but no such luck. Having left the Falklands group behind at the
Expedition Centre to pack and start their 24 hour no dive period, the rest of us headed west around
the Island near Georgetown and dived Clarence Bay Arch for the second dive. We celebrated our
last evening with the Falklands team with a superb BBQ cooked by Rik and John. We grazed
                                   through all the meat, salad and potatoes supplied by the
                                   Combined Mess, it was great until it started raining! I thought a
                                   beautiful drop in the Atlantic Ocean just off the equator we
                                   would have gorgeous weather, nope apparently they get still get
                                   rain too, much to our chagrin but especially the Falklands‟ lot
                                   who were trying to escape the wintery weather!!

Day Eight – 17 Sep

10.     The Falklands‟ group did their admin bits n bobs in the morning before their flight back,
while the rest of the expedition briefed up and dived our final dive on the China Wreck again, a
lovely chilled final dive. All diving was over, but the expedition didn‟t stop there – Op Clean
Up…the boats, kit, the equipment room, expedition centre, bedrooms, bathrooms. We had lunch
together and said our farewells to the Falklands Team before they departed for the airhead for their
return South. The original 7 and John headed into Georgetown to buy some much needed souvenirs
from the one and only hotel on the island, we then took a wonder round the town, which took all of
5 minutes before returning to base to get changed into our glad rags to celebrate our final evening in
the American‟s Volcano Club Bar and diner. We treated ourselves once again to some lovely
greasy food.

Day Nine – 18 Sep

11.      We swept up, packed up and made our way to the departure lounge, did our shopping in
duty free which you had to leave in the NAAFI to prevent consumption on the, but you could pick it
up as soon as you were called forward? Sadly, no Club Class on the way back so we were seated in
cattle class for our return journey with the exception of Jane who, as a CASEVAC had had to check
in separately and was lifted onto the jet with a special person ramp/lift and had oodles of leg room,
well, more than the rest of us. We safely all arrived into Brize Norton, and had our last and final
faff of the expedition, the O2 cylinder case Rik insisted we took, but didn‟t really need, was stowed
as freight and wasn‟t unloaded with the passenger baggage. Resolving this took some time as the
Brize Norton movers had to search through the aircraft‟s freight to find it which took about an hour
from the stopping of the suitcase conveyor belt.

12.    All in all a very successful Expedition, of course a few hiccups along the way, but that just
makes for a more interesting week on the Ascension Island which I hope to return to soon to see
more amazing untouched wildlife!!
                                                                             ANNEX F TO
                                                                             Dated 28 Oct 10



1.     Personnel from both RAF London Sub Aqua Federation (RAFLSAF) and Falkland Island
Sub Aqua (FISAC) clubs took part in a joint expedition in order to continue or complete training in
accordance with British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) lessons and RAF Sub-Aqua Association (RAFS-
AA) regulations. The expedition to Ascension Islands provided excellent opportunities for training
with a mixture of shallow more benign sites within English Bay for the u/t Ocean divers through to
more challenging sites for the more advanced training. Although, some dives were purely training,
the majority of the training was done on an opportunity basis during the various dives.


2.       In order to complete this training two Sub Aqua Diving Supervisors (SADS) and two
instructors provided the necessary safety and instruction, and the following instructors and students
took part during the expedition:

Q-SADS                             Fg Off D Ray                       RAFLSAF
                                   Mr R Saldanha                      RAFLSAF
Instructors (BSAC OWI)             Sqn Ldr C Benford                  RAFLSAF
                                   Flt Lt J Raine                     FISAC/ Exped Training Officer
Students                           Wg Cdr R Duguid                    Stn Cdr Ascension
                                   Flt Lt Mandy Castle                RAFLSAF
                                   Flt Lt Jane Pickersgill            RAF Lossiemouth
                                   Fg Off Zoe Linley                  RAFLSAF
                                   Sgt Georgie Lodge                  FISAC
                                   L/Cpl Samantha Blyth               FISAC
                                   L/Cpl Phillip Kimpton              FISAC
                                   L/Cpl Dave Radford                 RAFLSAF
                                   SAC Andrew Wrigglesworth           FISAC


3.      The training provided to each student was focussed on their individual needs with all 4
instructors fully involved in the training effort. Training provided to students was as detailed in the
table below:

Rank/Name                        Qualification       Training Received during Expedition
L/Cpl Samantha Blyth             Dive Leader         Boat handling in a challenging environment, and
                                                     acted as Dive Marshall.
Flt Lt Mandy Castle              Sports Diver        BSAC Nitrox lectures for OD and SD and
                                                     furthered her SD depth progression depth
                                                     progression. In addition, she received DL
                                                     lectures 1 – 3 and open water practical lessons
                                                     1 -3, acted as Dive Marshall and led a dive.

Wg Cdr R Duguid            Ocean Diver       Sports Diver lectures 1 – 5, and open water skills
                                             of Alternative Air Ascent (AAS), Controlled
                                             Buoyant lift (CBL) and 50m tow with rescue
L/Cpl Phillip Kimpton      u/t Ocean Diver   Prior to the Expedition, he had completed the
                                             Ocean Diver lessons 1 -7 and passed the theory
                                             assessment, and completed 3 pool training
                                             sessions. During the expedition he achieved the
                                             5 dives and standards in the following activities;
                                             towing of a diver, depth progression to 20m,
                                             AAS, CBL, different entry and exit methods,
                                             and is now a fully qualified as an OD.
Fg Off Zoe Lindley         Sports Diver      BSAC Nitrox lectures for OD and SD, acted as
                                             Dive Marshall and completed the Dive Leader
                                             (DL) skills of Delayed Surface Marker Buoy
                                             (DSMB) mid water deployment and acted as
                                             dive leader on several dives.
Sgt Georgie Lodge          u/t Ocean Diver   Prior to the Expedition, she had completed the
                                             Ocean Diver lessons 1 -7 and passed the theory
                                             assessment, and completed 3 pool training
                                             sessions. Despite an ear infection she still
                                             managed to achieve the 5 dives and standards in
                                             the following activities; towing of a diver, depth
                                             progression to 20m, AAS, CBL, different entry
                                             and exit methods, and is now a fully qualified as
                                             an OD.
Flt Lt Jane Pickersgill    Dive Leader       All Advanced Diver (AD) lectures, acted as
                                             Dive Marshall, and led 6 dives.
L/Cpl Dave Radford         Sports Diver      Depth progression to 25 and 30m with the
                                             practical skills of a CBL, DSMB and AAS.
SAC Andrew Wrigglesworth   u/t Ocean Diver   Prior to the Expedition, he had completed the
                                             Ocean Diver lessons 1 -7 and passed the theory
                                             assessment, and completed 3 pool training
                                             sessions. During the expedition he achieved the
                                             5 dives and standards in the following activities;
                                             towing of a diver, depth progression to 20m,
                                             AAS, CBL, different entry and exit methods,
                                             and is now a fully qualified as an OD.


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