Exercise (Northern) Gozo Diver was an Army Reserve led sub aqua diving expedition to Malta/Gozo over the dates 06 – 13 October 2018. The aim of the trip was to train up new British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Ocean Divers and to allow the qualified safety divers to expand their dive experience. The Ocean Diver qualification is the first step on the BSAC training programme and is a mixture of in classroom theory and practical, in water, lessons.
Gozo was chosen as the dive location due to its warm clear water and good weather, which proved to be the case during the week with warm sunny conditions and a sea temperature of 26C.
The dive training locations were chosen for their ease of entry and exit, shallow depth and flat sandy sea bed, which is ideal for the many various lessons that the trainee divers had to complete. These included mask removal, recovering an unconscious casualty from the sea bed, how to recover the regulator (breathing mouthpiece) and buoyancy control, a very important skill to stop the divers crashing in to the delicate sea bed below them but also stopping them shooting to the surface.
As you can imagine, arranging a dive trip overseas for 18 personnel is no simple task. The planning started some nine months before with the initial financial plan, which was submitted for approval, then there were dive medicals to be arranged, flights to be booked, airport transfers, hire vehicles, feeding, accommodation, dive equipment, travel insurance as well as ensuring everyone had an in date passport and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Those attending the expedition came from the North West of England (Manchester, Liverpool, Birkenhead & Lancaster), which has some of the most challenging social areas in the country. The opportunity to attend a week long sub aqua dive trip to Malta/Gozo would, possibly, not have been open to many of them had they not been members of the Army Reserve.
Corporal Chris Briscoe from Salford, who kept the daily diary wrote the following:
The diving was an excellent training experience for all, covering the military core values, listed.
Discipline – checking your and your diving buddy’s equipment before and during the dive.
Integrity – If you had made a mistake during the dive, be honest and tell the other person how you could improve your skills, it could save life’s later.
Courage – doing something which you find scary but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and working in very different environments.
Selflessness commitment – If your dive buddy ran out of air, letting him use your alternative air supply.
As an Army Reserve Junior Non Commissioned Officer, it also helped to improve my understanding of using non-verbal communication, hand singles and body language to communicate to my dive buddy, i.e. giving instructions and reassuring them, if they needed it.
I would strongly recommend that anyone attends a diving Expedition.
To summarise, Exercise (Northern) Gozo Diver was a great success, it achieved its aim of getting seven new divers qualified and gave those already trained added experience in safety skills and dive leading.