Manned Dive Bell Testing for New Diving System Completed

Story Number: NNS101209-16Release Date: 12/9/2010 2:52:00 PM
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From Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy successfully completed dive bell testing for its new Saturation Fly-Away Diving System (SAT FADS) Dec. 2., at Naval Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), Panama City, Fla.

The testing is helping to make progress toward a critical saturation diving capability to support Navy salvage and recovery operations around the world.

Saturation diving is a diving technique that allows divers to avoid the deadly effects of decompression sickness, so they can work at great depths for long periods of time.

Pierside testing included transferring divers from the dive bell system to the ocean in preparation for a 1,000 ft. saturation dive scheduled for 2011.

The SAT FADS system is designed to support six divers for a period of 21 days, with an additional nine days of decompression in deep water sustained diving operations to depths of 1,000 feet sea water (fsw) for aircraft and ship recovery or salvage operations. The system will replace two decommissioned Pigeon-class submarine rescue which operated to 850 fsw.

"These tests prove the capability for the system to successfully launch the manned dive bell, exit divers from the bell on excursion dives, recover them and return safely to the surface," said Paul McMurtrie, SAT FADS program manager. "There were many procedural lessons learned from the testing which we'll use to streamline our processes and enhance diver safety."

The entire SAT FADs system measures 40 feet x 70 feet and includes the main deck decompression chamber, manned dive bell, bell handling system, command and control center, and two auxiliary support equipment containers, bulk helium storage racks. Living quarters are located in the deck decompression chamber.

System testing will continue through additional operational evaluations, a series of manned dives pier-side, and culminate with a 1,000 foot deep ocean saturation dive in 2011.

NEDU is a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command.

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