The expedition was led by an extremely experienced set of divers who had run previous trips to the island and comprised of members of 4 Yorks, 65 Works Group, EMUAS, and 8 Fld Coy (Para) REME.
Over the course of the 14 day expedition the 12 participants gained a total of 11 BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) qualifications. These were one Ocean Diver, three Sports Divers, six Boat Handlers and one Diver Coxswain. There were also two PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Master Divers who made significant progress towards their cross-over to BSAC Advanced Divers.
For such a short period of time the progress was fantastic. The clear and calm waters leant themselves to productive teaching sessions underwater. These practical sessions were supported by theory sessions in the evenings to give students as much chance to learn as possible.
A total of 204 dives were clocked up over the time there, including 12 night dives in English Bay. Depth progression to 30m was carried out for all taking part with no one reporting signs of narcosis or discomfort.
One new activity which was carried out on this expedition was a ‘Project Day’. This involved the group splitting into two teams and competing against each other to produce a map of the dive site; the Yorkshire Chariots. Nick Drowley was on the expedition which first discovered the ‘Chariots’ and so as he recounted the story a real sense of personal involvement and interest in the site developed for everyone there.
Tasks included: measuring the dimensions of the underwater steel structures, taking bearings and distances between them and creating a rough dynamic map as the site was explored. This offered the more inexperienced and trainee divers of the group a great chance to carry out a challenging and involving task whilst still maintaining safe diving practice.
The day was rounded off with presentations from both of the teams to two Saint Helenians who had previous knowledge of the site. It was a very close call, as both teams had produced surprisingly accurate maps and had come to the same conclusions on what the ‘Chariots’ actually were. Their heavy steel A-frame structures pointed towards mountings for artillery pieces as they were set to support strong forces down the length of the structure. There were also signs of pivots that would allow for the mounting to adjust the lateral direction and elevation of its aim. How they ended up on the sea bed remains a mystery and open to speculation.
There was a wealth of outstanding creatures encountered throughout the trip. The highlights being: a gigantic manta ray, a reef shark (not as gigantic but menacing nonetheless), a pod of bottlenose dolphins and many encounters with the island’s famous Green and Hawksbill turtles.
The group captured many of the underwater encounters on camera and so have come away with some lasting copies of their great memories. On one dive our more experienced underwater photographer got a chance to teach an enthusiast some tips which he can use for future adventures. Several GoPros were also used record some HD videos underwater and capture the fun times of the trip.
There was a mix of Army and RAF personnel with ranks varying from Flight Lieutenant to Warrant Officer to Craftsman to University Air Squadron Officer Cadets. This offered a great chance for people from different disciplines to share stories and learn more about the wider military organisation.