Introduction

This pilot study was carried out during an operational dive to 250 msw in the Barents Sea 200 miles North of Murmansk. The dive was conducted in 1986 by Wharton Williams and was the second trip to the wreck of HMS Edinburgh to recover the remaining 34 gold bars. The wreck lay in water nearly 100 metres deeper than usually encountered in regular North Sea operations and the dive therefore posed a considerable challenge for the supervisors and diving personnel a like. It was the first time that any of the dive team had been to this depth or had dived on a wreck of this size. The technical and human demands were therefore high and a team of so-called ‘super-divers’ was selected for the lob. This was a team that had been diving together for a considerable period of time and had a good reputation in the North Sea

The dive therefore presented a good opportunity to examine the criteria on which the divers had been selected and to see if these criteria were consistent both before and after the dive amongst two groups of dive supervisors.

The main objective of the pilot study was to examine the dive team selection process and the criteria used. Secondary aims were to determine if the selection criteria were common to an independent group of dive supervisors working with the same team and to look at the interrelationship among the 14 criteria chosen

Method

A 14 - item visual analogue scale questionnaire describing a range of diver qualities was given to two superintendents prior to the dive. The scales were devised by Professor H. Ellis and designed to cover the main criteria used for selecting a dive team and from consultation with Dr C.M. Childs, diving physician for Wharton Williams. A visual analogue scale was used in preference to a Likert-type scale In order to give the supervisors as much choice as possible and to reflect the exploratory nature of the study where no hypotheses were being examined (See Annendix 1)

The scales were 50 mm in length and were marked so that a high score related to the positive/good aspect of the diver quality described. The superintendents were asked to rate ach of the 10 divers on the 14 scales. On completion of the dive the other two supervisors were asked to rate each of the divers on the same 14-point scale. The two superintendents had been responsible for the selection of the dive team while the two supervisors were simply part of the topside personnel responsible for diving operations. The small number of superintendents/supervisors led to a problem of inter-rater reliability and this should be considered when examining the results.

The dive team consisted of 10 divers of whom 9 were in saturation and 1 was a standby diver They were all experienced saturation divers. The dive profile was a standard company profile based on the U.S. Navy Dive Tables and the breathing gas was heliox.

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