Fog Drill when Diving a Wreck during Slack

This is Sussex’s boat procedure that will be followed in the event of fog arising during a wreck dive or Missing Diver.

This procedure explains what the boat and skipper will be doing while your underwater unaware that fog has rolled in over the dive site.

It also explains what the boat and skipper expects you the diver to do to aid your detection and recovery.

Diver detection aids minimum, you should have these:

  • Torch, Strobe
  • Whistle
  • SMB

Some divers have waterproof flares, air horns (needs air), waterproof VHF/AIS radios and EPIRPs.

The Boat

The boat will:

  1. Call the Coastguard, who will call out the lifeboat and will issue a PAN PAN for the area. The lifeboat will take up to 45 mins to reach a site 7 miles offshore, dependent on sea conditions.
  2. Contact any nearby vessels and co-opted them into looking for surfacing divers.
  3. Attach a second buoy and strobe to the shot line, reason for this:
    Easier to relocate the shot line
    To provide additional surface buoyancy for divers ascending on the shot line from the seabed.
    Moves the diver pickup point away from any ascending divers under the first buoy.
  4. The boat has historical data on the navigation system for the tide direction for the ebb and flood tides over each site and will know your direction of drift.

The Diver

Coming up the shot line

If returning to the shot line, move to the end of the shot line and wait on the second buoy. If you can’t see the boat that is because the boat is following a diver on an SMB and will be back for you. Do Not Leave the Shot Line.

Ascending using an SMB in Fog

Your position will be down tide of the wreck drifting with the tide.

  1. If everybody has followed the same dive plan (bottom time) then all your SMBs should be near each other on the surface. If you haven’t followed the dive plan then it may take a little longer to locate you.
  2. On the surface, organise your buoyancy so that you can view the surrounding area, top up your SMB if it is floppy. If you cannot see any other SMBs then blow your whistle and do a 360 degree turn waving your torch and look for other torches and listen for whistles.
  3. If you can see another SMB then swim over to it and keep near it, do not pull the other diver up let them complete their decompression stops.
  1. Shot Line
  2. Second Buoy, on ascending the shot line move to the Second Buoy
  3. Diver not using the shot line leaves the wreck deploying their SMB from the seabed
  4. Vigilant Diver on the surface with: inflated buoyancy aid, inflated SMB, torch, strobe and whistle