EX GOZO SPLASH saw 19 students of Cambridge University Air Sqn deploy from RAF Wyton to the Island of Gozo, Malta. The aim of the expedition was to deliver British Sub-Aqua club training and qualifications to all students from novice to Advanced Diver. The event was held over 2 weeks with 10 students attending each week and a changeover weekend in between.
The expedition was run under both BSAC and Joint Service Diving Regulations. 2 instructors were utilised, 1 from CUAS and Sqn Ldr (retd) Dave Ball from the RAF Halton dive club to satisfy the training and supervisory aspects. In addition to the delivery of sub-aqua training, the event afforded students the opportunity to undertake the organisational and logistical actions required for a multi-unit overseas expedition.
Expedition members travelled from Gatwick to Luqa with Air Malta, and after a short transfer and ferry journey arrived on the Island of Gozo to collect the hire vehicles for the event. Although basic, the accommodation was entirely suited to the expedition, with self catering facilities enabling students to experience catering for a large group at meal times, something which students rarely get the opportunity to try.
Sub-Aqua training began on the day after arrival on Gozo and progressed at pace. The novice divers had received pool training in the UK prior to departure and completed 3 open water dives in the sea on day 1. As the weeks progressed all novice divers completed the BSAC Ocean Diver course in its entirety and students were awarded their qualifications on the Thursday of each week. During this week diving operations were conducted at multiple sites, dive site choice dependant on the prevailing weather and objectives for each day. Previously qualified students acted as safety divers during the instructional phase of the expedition, both honing their skills and developing their confidence and leadership underwater.
On each Friday the newly qualified divers embarked on a bespoke dive boat to experience cave and wreck diving. The groups dived the Comino caves, a small cave system on the island of Comino, and dived the wreck of the P31 – a Maltese minesweeper sunk deliberately to become a dive attraction. During the course of the expedition 255 dives were conducted with more than 160 hrs spent underwater.
The expedition was an enormous success and Gozo lends itself effortlessly to sub-aqua training. The underwater conditions and fine surface weather, coupled with the small size of the island, means that diving can be safely undertaken during all but the worst weather conditions. The assistance of the Ulysses Trust is greatly appreciated and I would like to thank the Trust on behalf of all expedition members.Gareth Kane, Sqn Ldr, OC CUAS