The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
Cork plays host to annual meeting
More than 30 delegates, representing 12 countries, were present at this year’s annual conference in Cork, Ireland. Our host, the Irish Navy Diving School, shares a site with the National Maritime College of Ireland, and the Association was able to benefit from access to the facilities of both, with the use of an excellent lecture room and daily lunches in the College.
Our sincere thanks go to Lt Cdr Tony Reagan and Lt Shane Mulcahy for their excellent organisation and co-operation with the Board, which made this a very successful event.
The meeting was opened by Commodore Hugh Tully, flag officer commanding, the Irish Naval Service.
The meeting began with the usual review of the administration since the 2014 meeting in Oslo, Norway. The Board remains the same for next year, as Leo LaGarde (the Netherlands) was re-elected as chairman, with John Rabone (UK), Dag Wroldsen (Norway) and Mark van der Esch (Belgium) returning as members. The administration continues its reorganisation, with Alan Bax moving some of his responsibilities to the offices of Netherlands Diving Centre in Delft, under the guidance of Carin Bot, to allow him more time for liaison with schools and organisations.
Amongst the many items for discussion there was interest in the possibility of developing IDSA log books for students and instructors and Leo Lagarde agreed to investigate the possibilities on behalf of members. There were informative papers from several schools on ways in which the IDSA might achieve international recognition through various national channels, including Italy and Denmark; Mark van der Esch spoke about the IDSA’s current liaison with ‘COFRAC’, the French Accreditation Committee; and the chairman led a discussion on the relevance to the IDSA of ISO recognition. Alan Bax and John Rabone presented the meeting with the results of their updating and development of IDSA standards and procedures, which it is planned to circulate to members and interested organisations by the end of 2015.
Visiting speakers were, as usual, well received with topics that included: the exploration of the Titanic – Rory Golden told of his fascinating dives by manned submersible; the latest in digital thickness measurement – Mark Harris (Cygnus Instruments); diver welder training ‘challenges and solutions’ – David Keats (Speciality Welds); and the hyperbaric implications of tunnelling – Robbert de Bie (IHC Hytech).
The Technip video Hyperbaric Evacuation, showing the verification method for the rescue and stabilisation of self-propelled hyperbaric lifeboats (SPHLs), was also shown, and during a tour of the school – which is a full member of the IDSA – Giuseppe Basile gave a demonstration of the Italian VicSystem helmet-mounted, low-light television system.
Finally, Shane Mulcahy gave a fascinating talk on the role of the Irish Naval Section – particularly interesting for his description of the role played by divers in rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean (from where he had returned the previous week); in the majority of such situations, divers are the only personnel qualified to enter the water and were thus in constant demand in situations where refugees (often women with babies and small children) had abandoned their boats – for whatever reason – and were struggling in the sea.
An excellent Association dinner in the officers’ mess, attended by members, speakers and guests, on the final evening brought to an end a stimulating meeting. Offers to host the next annual general meeting were received and are being considered by the Board.