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CHIPS Articles: NAVSEA 00C Conducts Flyaway Saturday Dive Training, Prepares for Crisis Calls

NAVSEA 00C Conducts Flyaway Saturday Dive Training, Prepares for Crisis Calls
By Jacqui Barker, Office of Public Affairs, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division - March 16, 2015
PANAMA CITY, Florida - For the U.S. Navy's 40 saturation divers, requalification on the Fly Away Saturation Diving System (SATFAD) here this week ensures the Navy retains its deep water recovery capability.

The Sailors train on the SATFAD system three to four times a year to retain their qualifications on the unique system that allows these Navy divers to execute missions such as deep ocean salvage, aircraft or black box retrieval.

"We train so the procedures become routine, and we're using this opportunity to train now until a real disaster happens," said Saturation Diving System Program Manager Paul McMurtrie, who is also a retired U.S. Navy Master Diver. "We train here in Panama City, Florida because this is where the expertise is located, and we can conduct training operations here year round."

The March 2015 SATFAD testing is conducted pier-side, and only in 30 feet of seawater, simply to give the divers the opportunity to practice operations such as manned pressurization, manned launch and recovery, watch stander drills and emergency procedures.

"It's a lot of hands-on training," said McMurtrie. "There is a lot to learn here from the divers who have been doing the job for decades, either in the military or as civilians."

This one-of-a-kind system is owned by Naval Sea Systems Command and maintained by a crew of five civilians from the command's Supervisor of Diving and Salvage organization. It is a complex combination of pressured dive chambers and metal containers that allow the Sailors to work and live on a barge at sea and dive in the ocean's depths for up to 30 days.

The main chamber, the deck decompression chamber, allows the Sailors to achieve desired and pressurized depth only then to connect to a Dive Bell that is then "locked out" and submerged into the water by way of a hydraulic arm that picks up the dive bell and places it and the men inside into the ocean.

This year, 2015, is the Year of the Military Diver (#YOTMD), and the 70th anniversary of Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division. It is also the 100th anniversary of the Mark V dive system, the 40th anniversary of Women in Diving and the 35th anniversary of Naval Diving Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida.

U.S. Navy Diver Chief Allan Manco (DSW/SW) observes the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) fly away saturation system, or SATFAD, dive bell moments before pier-side submersion March 10, 2015 during SATFAD training in Panama City, Florida. The training allowed the specialized set of Navy divers to retain qualifications, and hone skills. Manco, who is originally from Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, is assigned to the Naval Reserve Surge Maintenance Dive Unit located in Norfolk, Virginia. Photo by Jacqui Barker/NSWC PCD.
U.S. Navy Diver Chief Allan Manco (DSW/SW) observes the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) fly away saturation system, or SATFAD, dive bell moments before pier-side submersion March 10, 2015 during SATFAD training in Panama City, Florida. The training allowed the specialized set of Navy divers to retain qualifications, and hone skills. Manco, who is originally from Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, is assigned to the Naval Reserve Surge Maintenance Dive Unit located in Norfolk, Virginia. Photo by Jacqui Barker/NSWC PCD.

The fly away saturation system, or SATFAD, dive bell moves from the deck of a barge in Panama City, Florida March 10, 2015 into the water where U.S. Navy saturation divers conduct pier-side training operations. The training allowed the specialized set of Navy divers to retain qualifications, and hone skills. Photo by Jacqui Barker/NSWC PCD.
The fly away saturation system, or SATFAD, dive bell moves from the deck of a barge in Panama City, Florida March 10, 2015 into the water where U.S. Navy saturation divers conduct pier-side training operations. The training allowed the specialized set of Navy divers to retain qualifications, and hone skills. Photo by Jacqui Barker/NSWC PCD.

The fly away saturation system, or SATFAD, dive bell moves from the deck of a barge in Panama City, Florida March 10, 2015 into the water where U.S. Navy saturation divers conduct pier-side training operations. The training allowed the specialized set of Navy divers to retain qualifications, and hone skills. Photo by Jacqui Barker/NSWC PCD.
The fly away saturation system, or SATFAD, dive bell moves from the deck of a barge in Panama City, Florida March 10, 2015 into the water where U.S. Navy saturation divers conduct pier-side training operations. The training allowed the specialized set of Navy divers to retain qualifications, and hone skills. Photo by Jacqui Barker/NSWC PCD.
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