Introduction In September of 2012 the participants of Exercise FIRE TIGER set out from Wyvern barracks in Exeter to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic with the aim of completing a demanding 2 week adventure training package. The team consisted of 10 Officer Cadets (OCdt’s) from Exeter University Officer Training Corps and two military dive instructors.
Ascension Island Ascension Island is a tiny volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic. Located approximately halfway between the horn of Africa and Brazil it is truly remote with the nearest airstrip over 1600 km away.
The island is home to RAF Ascension Island, an airfield which supports British interests in the area and provides air links to the Falkland Islands.
Diving Because of the volcanic nature of the island the topography underwater is truly amazing with many interesting rock formation such as walls, cliffs, boulder fields, underwater tunnels, swimthroughs and archways. Due to its remote location, lack of tourism and industry, the water is crystal clear, with visibility on every dive exceeding 20m.
Although sea life on the island is not as colourful as some locations it is extremely prolific. The island seems to hold the worlds supply of moray eels and triggerfish. At one point the exped leader almost because separated from one of the instructors even though she was only a few meters away, because of the number and curiosity of the triggerfish swimming between them.
Other wildlife sightings included octopus, dolphins, titan trigger fish, eels (of varying shapes and sizes) turtles, sharks and finally lobsters, which were swiftly caught and cooked for evening meal.
Whilst on the island the group reached depths of up to 30m and experienced different dive conditions such as drift diving, wreck diving, deep diving and even a night dive on the wreck.
Training The main aim of the expedition was to promote the participants to their next level of qualification. This meant training dives for the first half of the expedition and classroom lessons and tests in the evening. Although this was taxing it meant that the second week could focus on more interesting and technical dive sites which allowed the group to see more of what the island had to offer.
Cultural Visits Army diving regulations state that after every four days diving one rest day must be taken. In order to make sure that this time was not wasted several cultural visits were organised by the exped leader. These included a trek to the summit of Green Mountain, the highest point on the island, a visit to the local wildlife and conservation centre to learn more about the sea life we were seeing and exploring the old lava tunnels around the island.
Accommodation and Mess The expedition was accommodated at Travellers Hill, close to the NAFFI and mess. Food throughout the expedition was excellent and on nights where we were diving far away and back late BBQ food was provided which was cooked at the expedition centre.
Conclusion Ex FIRE TIGER was a highly successful expedition. We managed to qualify 6 Sports Divers and 3 Dive leaders, a huge feat in such a short space of time. During the debrief all participants stated that they had enjoyed a fantastic expedition with one OCdt saying that the expedition had “made his summer”.
On top of this all participants now have civilian recognised qualifications, which can be used to take their troops away on further AT after successfully passing out from Sandhurst.
The expedition also had the added benefit of increasing the units “Espirit De Corps”. By putting together individuals from different wings and platoons it allowed those who would not normally mix to get to know each other where this would not usually happen.
The expedition also increases the recruitment and retention potential of Exeter University Officer Training Corps by offering a more rounded and exciting adventurous training package.
The exped leader, on behalf of the whole group, would like to formally thank the Ulysses Trust fund for making this fantastic expedition.