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July 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Navy Divers Got it Wrong

from the July, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Two Navy divers from the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 were training in the "superpond" at Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground in February to prove they were competent for an upcoming deployment. Both died on the bottom after spending 24 minutes underwater, when they only had enough air in their tanks for 11 minutes.

Something during their 150-foot dive went terribly wrong, with testimony suggesting that their lines got caught on something at the bottom, keeping them from resurfacing on time. Problems also came up with the diving equipment. Two of the unit's Mark 16 Diving Systems, which allows them to be at deep depths longer, were not working when they arrived in Maryland. And when the leaders chose to use scuba to get to the bottom, one of the rescuers who tried to save them had his regulator freeze over in the 40-degree water.

Now the unit's master diver, Senior Chief James Burger, and its officer in charge, Chief Warrant Officer Mark Smith, are accused of culpable negligence in allowing those in their command to dive outside normal training limits (130 feet depth) and without adequate safeguards. The possible charge is involuntary manslaughter and dereliction of duty.

-- from a report by Channel 3 News, Hampton Roads, VA

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