A dive gone wrong
From U.S. Coast Guard reports
On a calm, sunny Florida morning in May a commercial fisherman on a moored 43-foot boat was filling a dozen or so scuba tanks with 3,000 psi of nitrox, an oxygen-enriched air mixture.
The vessel was equipped with air compressors, oxygen tanks, regulators, buoyancy control devices, dive calculators, and spear guns used to venture up to 150 feet below the ocean's surface in search of snapper and grouper. After prepping the vessel and making sure all the gear was in working order, the skipper and three-man crew untied the lines.
Everyone onboard had worked diving together for several years.
Late in the day the crew reached the day's final dive spot 60 miles east of Mayport. Taking into account the wind and current, the skipper instructed one of the crew members to "ready the hook" while the skipper maneuvered the boat so the ledge would be just off their stern. Minutes later the anchor was set and two divers donned their wet suits and assembled their gear.
Spear guns in hand, the divers disappeared below the surface. Diving at a depth of 140 to 145 feet allowed them just 12 to 14 minutes of bottom time. They closely monitored their digital dive computers so they would know when to resurface.
Reaching the ocean floor in tandem, they parted ways toward opposite ends of the ledge. As they swam away from each other, one diver heard the sound of a spear gun being discharged.
"He must have gotten one!" he thought to himself as he continued swimming away from his partner. A little later, that diver resurfaced, swimming toward the boarding ladder at the stern of the boat empty-handed.
As the minutes passed with no sign of the other diver, the crew grew anxious. The skipper said if the diver hadn't resurfaced after 28 minutes, they'd go down and look for him.
The skipper made a mayday call, requesting Coast Guard assistance for a missing diver.
While awaiting help, the skipper instructed both men onboard to don their gear and search for the missing diver.
Shortly after they dove in, the two men recovered the missing diver. He was unresponsive.
They performed CPR on the boat until a Coast Guard helicopter arrived to airlift the diver to the nearest hospital. He was pronounced dead from injuries consistent with drowning.
In this case, Coast Guard investigators determined the accident occurred largely because an oversight led to the fisherman's scuba tanks being filled with an incorrect oxygen-air mixture.
Divers performing work-related diving activities are encouraged to have a thorough understanding of safety guidelines applicable to their unique trade. Whether working on the surface or the ocean floor, fish safe!
This article is based on U.S. Coast Guard reporting and is intended to bring safety issues to the attention of our readers. It is not intended to judge or reach conclusions regarding the ability or capacity of any person, living or dead, or any boat or piece of equipment.
National Fisherman Live: 1/27/15
In this episode:
Assessment: Atlantic menhaden is not overfished
Bering Sea pollock fishery casts off
Dock to Dish opens Florida’s first CSF
Second wave of disaster funds for Alaska
Fisherman lands N.C.’s largest bluefin ever
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is still seeking public review and comment on the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Conformance Criteria (Version 1.2, September 2011). The public review and comment period, which opened on Dec. 3, 2014, runs through Monday, Feb. 3.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.