1 RCN DIVING BRANCH HISTORY Part 8B By Ken Whitney 2015 Ken Whitney wrote that the various tests that I am aware of during my exposure at the DCIEM Diving Trials & Development Unit(DT & DU), although assigned, would be on an if available basis. This was due to the fact that our Dive Team was continually scheduled to dive in the hyperbaric chamber doing Canadian Pneumatic Analogue Decompression Computer dives, if not as a subject, then as an outside controller. Electric Oxygen Booster Pump One test I vividly recall, was when our Unit received an electric driven rocking cylinder oxygen booster pump from England, all packed in British Standard shipping mode packed with grease, wrapped in heavy waxed paper, with lots of oil. As you are well aware, oil and grease with oxygen is not a good mix, creating an instantaneous bang, with parts flying all around. As in past practices, while on our diving Trade courses, our dive team would occasionally strip down the manual pump, clean it, and reassemble it. On this morning when the Military personnel arrived for work at 0800(civilians arrived at work at 0900 every morning), with no others around to obtain any tools to strip the Booster Pump down, I went to the DCIEM workshop area to see what I might find. I spied the right piece of scrap metal being thrown out in the scrap bin. All I actually needed was one large spanner the size of what I called the king nut that fastened the compression chamber together. So I drew the pattern on the scrap metal, then proceeded to use the oxygen/acetylene torch to cut out the tool, completed it, then ground off the rough spots and it fit perfectly. One major problem! The Union Shop Steward was extremely upset that I had not put in a work order to do this work, and were then considering going out on strike. I had to apologize to the Shop Steward and explain to everyone why I had done this heinous crime as follows. I was at work at 0800, the civilians arrived at 0900, therefore I had a full hour of doing nothing, whereas I could fashion the necessary spanner to allow me to strip down the Booster Pump, clean it up following normal maintenance practices, and reassemble it by starting early. Things quieted down after this explanation. Upon fully stripping down the pump, we found that the compression cylinder was completely full of oil. There would have been one great big bang if I had only hooked up the machine and turned it on without utilizing the proper maintenance routine!! But I wasn t out of the dark just yet. The workshop staff got even with me by having this oxygen booster pump installed in the cafeteria garbage pick up area! I did quite a number of runs and CDBA bottle charging there before LCdr Al Booth moved the Pump and I to a more suitable location and, yes, we did use the bottles on a publicity photo shoot, of a couple of Divers using the CDBA on a backward splash from a Zodiac into the Toronto harbour, alongside HMCS HAIDA. Kirby Morgan Band Mask I remember using the KMBM in some water test, with swimming and all kinds of crazy antics, but it was short lived, as we were again assigned to other work. Canadian Pnuematic Analogue Decompression Computer While I was at DCIEM, it was already established that PO Len Beaton, PO Bill Burgess & LS Ivan Sherlock (although I had a short stint in the laboratory, not me)were the only ones who would be doing the setup and testing of the various compartments of this Computer. That is, to say, that the computer was based on four compartments in comparison with the human body; skin, fluids, muscle mass and bone structure, from what I understood, and the capacity in which each part of the body would accept the oxygen and nitrogen into the system, and the four small cylinders would each in their turn accept the pressure going from each small cylinder in diving down and, of course, on ascending the reverse would also happen. When I received the Computer printout there had been some 2232 dive profiles searched, but I believe that there were quite a number of other dives, completed after the computer printout date that I received, was profiled to indicate only what dives I had participated in.
2 Floatation Test Vests In the early years, on courses and working on ships and searches, our dive team s never wore life vests, however as the Diving Branch started to mature and age, safety became more of an issue, so it became mandatory for us to start wearing these added safety measures. DT & DU was tasked to find a suitable vest for both Coasts. LCdr Al Booth informed PO1 Len Beaton and myself that we would be leaving on a Tuesday for Groton, New London, Connecticut to test out a recommended life vest in their submarine escape tank. We arrived there on the following Wednesday, and reported in. We were informed that before we could use the test tank for free ascents, we would have to do two submarine free ascents from their deepest section which, I believe was from 110 ft. We were briefed and informed that we would be using the blow and go and Ho! Ho! Ho! methods, or the blow and go Momsen Lung, and the Steinke Hood for our free ascents, and that when we reached the surface we had to get out of the water as soon as possible and do the toe the line test. This was a precaution in case you received an embolism on your ascent. Off we went to the escape chamber at the 110 ft level, put on the Momsen Lung and the hatch was opened to the submarine escape tank. To explain the tank procedure; at various height stations during the free ascent, there were Instructors watching to ensure you were breathing out enough, and it was my distinct belief that they derived pleasure in punching you in your unprotected stomach on the way up, to ensure you had breathed out your full lung capacity. So we then stepped out into the bottom of the tank, just leaned back, inflated the Lung, looked up to the surface and commenced the free ascent, blowing air out. We were on our way, rocketing to the surface, out of the water and toe the line. It was back to the bottom of the tank to repeat the process, only this time using the Steinke Hood, which covered your head and shoulders, and was filled with air by the time you reached the surface. Same routine, step out, lean back and start the Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Claus bit all the way to the surface, toe the line then back down to the bottom of the tank again. This time we dressed with full CABA, wet suit, weights, fins and floatation vest. We then stepped out into the tank, inflated the floatation vest, but it took a while for this buoyance vest to start its lift, and I didn t ascend as quickly as in the previous free ascents, but more or less seemed to float casually to the surface. Thank you s all around to the Staff in the Submarine Escape Chamber, pack up our diving and personal gear, then on to the United States Navy Deep Diving School and Diving Medical Experimental Unit to test our weights and buoyancy concerning the vest and the Divers weights compensation s. Our small team checked into the Washington Hilton Hotel, and rested for the night, then reported to the Diving Experimental Unit the next morning. We retrieved our diving gear and reported to their wet diving chamber. Donning our full gear we entered the chamber, got on a type of large swing and weighed in. We then immersed in water, weighed in again, inflated the vest, weighed in and suddenly it was all over. While there I met up with some of the American Divers I had worked with in 1959 in Goose Bay, Labrador while on UDT Team Bravo. As time was running short, they invited Len Beaton and I to the local Divers hangout of that time, called the Brown Derby, for a few drinks and stories that evening. So we cleaned up at the Hotel and off Len and I went to the Brown Derby. I met some more USN Divers I knew there and exchanged some salty dips, drank some refreshments and remembered a couple of diving buddies who had crossed over the bar. As the evening wore on, Beaton wanted to go back to the hotel, I guess he was getting bored with all the old Divers tales. When he persisted, I said to wait a few more minutes, and then I noticed that he must have left. I went outside to check and saw Len getting out of a Police car, saying something to the Officer, and shutting the door. I quickly hailed a cab, told the cab driver where we wanted to go, and asked Len just what had happened in the Police car. He informed me that he had got into the front seat of the car and said to the driver Washington Hotel please, and the response he received was I m not a cab, so with that, Len noticed he was wearing a Police uniform. Len got out of the car, and replied to the Officer I didn t want a ride in your cab anyway! To me, that was the highlight of our trip to Washington DC!!
3 USN Explosive Ordnance School, Indian Head, Maryland It was around September 1968 that I received the information about being selected for the EOD course, and was told to report to the USN EOD School at Indian Head for instructions, together with three other Canadians, PO Charlie Greengrass, PO Bill Allen and PO Glen Frauzel. Upon our arrival, we noted that PO Stan Stephenson and PO Bill Lukeman were already there on a course ahead of us. We were informed we would be taking the Foreign Students long course of approximately 6 to 7 months duration, depending on holiday s and reclassifications. Upon reporting in, we were assigned rooms, with PO Greengrass and I having our own room. There was a refrigerator in the room, two beds, a large clothes locker where we stored our liquor, clothes/uniforms and beer. In this accommodations block there was a kitchen, a large lounge area and, at the entrance a pool table, and a common wash and shower area just like a home away from home!! Classes started at 0700 in the morning, dinner break at 1100 AM, and classes resumed again at 1200 PM, ending at 300PM. Our first classes started off with small fired projectiles and the various families they were derived from, then on to large fired rounds, dropped munitions, planted, ground to air and air to ground missiles. The underwater section covered many various mines(pressure, magnetic influence and acoustic), torpedoes, rockets, guided missiles and many variety of fuzes. We also studied from a library of military books which described various render safe procedures, improvised, as well as getting into booby trapped vehicles, buildings, etc. In the field exercises, we were first taken to the explosives range to be taught the range firing procedures. It was off then to Stump Neck, Maryland to do render safe procedures on actual torpedoes, mines, etc. where, if you made a mistake, there was a convenient blow hole full of mud and water that would splatter everything and, of course, the render safe operative! We also did dives in the Potomac River that ran by the Camp, using the Jack Brown diving suit doing underwater project, as well as in the Base diving tank. Just outside the Base entrance were two Bars, one called the Gateway, the other the Longhorn, while about a mile down the road was another called the Sportsman. Additionally, there were other local entertainment venues to be found around the area. Our small group was moved around from time to time, as some of the classes we were with, would be there for a specific course, and then be gone. Also at Christmas we were given the holiday time off, which set us back another few weeks. There were Marine, Navy, Army and Air Force personnel participating, with all Ranks in the classes. The classrooms were open for evening studies, and you could also go down to spend study time on the various series of projectiles which would be covered in class during the daytime. The Instructors were all pretty good, and they each had a different way to let you know what was specifically important to know for your examinations. That s a horse was a common way of saying you better know this, and each Instructor, when they would come to a must know study point would either speak louder, shuffle, knock on wood, use a pointer or, one actually had cut out a small picture of a horse and put it on his forehead, so you could mark that area for further study! Once a month, we Canadians were allowed to go into Washington, District of Columbia to the Canadian Embassy to pick up our monthly liquor ration. We were allowed to have twelve 40 oz bottles of liquor, and all the cases of 24 beers that we wanted. Needless to say, our room in the barracks was always open to any weary traveller who arrived back late at night, as our refrigerator was always filled with canned beer of many varieties. Many a night we would be awakened by the phssss of a can being opened. We would always have a few bottles of Jack Daniels Black or Red for trading purposes. On special holiday weekends(christmas, Thanksgiving) I would drive home, some 700+ miles about an 8 or 9 hr drive to visit the family. Fortunately, I never encountered any really bad weather, but I would certainly be quite exhausted upon arrival, either home or back at Indian Head. The EOD School would have the usual formation of the classes on parade, and we would be assigned to different sections during their morning parades. The usual Hell Week was the removal of a fuze that was booby trapped with a tiny ball bearing which, as the bomb was turned, would roll easily in its cavity if it was too fast, it would jam and a tiny bang would ensue. Although it sounded very easy, the handicap was that the munition was located in a very sticky oozing mud puddle,
4 and it weighed roughly about 400 to 500 lbs. So that by the time your assigned team would go in to do the render safe procedure, it was a mass of slippery, unresponsive metal. Graduation for PO Bill Allen, PO Glenn Frauzel and myself was on 9 May 1969 when we were presented with our EOD Badges while on General Parade. PO Charlie Greengrass had been diagnosed with extreme high blood pressure, and returned to DT & DU at DCIEM a few months earlier. One thing that was disappointing to us, was that we were not allowed to wear the EOD(CRAB) Badge on our uniform after returning to our Unit in Canada. I had my wife come down to Maryland, and we went sight seeing before commencing our trip back to Toronto. As soon as I reported back to DT & DU in Toronto, I was informed to report to Ste Therese, Quebec for a further four week course on IED s(improvised Explosive Device s). On reporting in, we were assigned to various groups, in which were some guys I knew PO Red Larsen was a member. This was the last group to be trained in Quebec before training would be moved to CAMP BORDEN in Ontario. It was a very interesting course, as its main objective was the reality of dealing only with IED s; bathtub explosives, electric systems, delays, switches such as trembler, mercury, breaker and anything that you could purchase from a grocery, hardware or pharmaceutical store. We would make our own devices, and then another team would try to solve the Render Safe Procedure(RSP) to disable the improvised device. Our teams would then work in the building, or any other location, that the Instructors would plant, or place the IED s in or on. On a few occasions our teams would be called out to assist the Montreal Bomb Squad, as this was the prime time of the FLQ(Federation de Liberation du Quebec) bombings in Montreal, and there had been a death or two already recorded. Lt. Bob Cote, in charge of the Montreal Bomb Squad, came to give us a lecture or two, and always with lots of photos, some quite gruesome, and stories just as gory. When our course had finished, and we had all graduated and been issued the HC Card for EOD, which included IED handling and disposal, I returned to DCIEM in Toronto for more diving in the hyperbaric chamber, and testing of the Analogue Dive Computer. Surgeon LCdr Derek J. Kidd wrote this article in The bends the painful and sometimes fatal accumulation of nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream are suffered by deep sea Divers who have returned to the surface too quickly, after deep or long immersion. They are a well publicized effect of working literally under pressure. However, space travel, high altitude flight, escape from a sunken submarine, work in compressed air and hyperbaric therapy(treatment in a decompression chamber) also involve changes in environmental pressure. A device has now been developed that will help Divers and others working under conditions that involve drastic changes in air pressure to take precautions against untoward effects. It is a portable instrument known as the CANADIAN PNEUMATIC ANALOGUE DECOMPRESSION COMPUTER, and this is the story of its development. The ability of man as pass from one environment to another of low pressure with impunity depends on understanding the problems of decompression. In particular, it is essential that the rate of ambient(surrounding) pressure reduction does not exceed, by some factor, the rate at which gasses in solution in the body can be eliminated. The disregard for properly controlled decompression produces cavitation or bubble formation within the body which results in some form of decompression sickness, ranging in severity from mild skin irritation to death. In July 1962, RCAF Wing Commander R.F. Stubbs and RCN Surgeon LCdr Derek J. Kidd at the Institute of Aviation Medicine(now DCIEM) in Toronto, Ontario turned to the decompression implications of new apparatus and techniques designed to extend the scope and safety of diving and submarine escape. Decompression tables, in current use throughout the world, list decompression schedules over a specified range of depths and durations. These tables have been constructed from highly complicated mathematical formulae based on the theoretical behavior of inert gas exchange in the body. Because of the complicated interplay of factors educated guessing based on tables is potentially dangerous and is not permitted. In practice, dives often do not correspond exactly with a decompression table dive the rule then must be obeyed to err on the side of safety and follow an
5 unnecessarily long decompression schedule. It was logical to see a device which would keep track of the actual diving experience, regardless of its extent or pattern, calculate the appropriate decompression continuously and present this information to the Diver. In other words, what was required was a computer which would react to diving situations as the body does. Various versions of such a blackbox were made using pneumatic, hydraulic and electronic principles, but for simplicity and reliability, the pneumatic version has been most highly developed as a field instrument. Attempts to achieve a computer have been made elsewhere, one well known version being on the market, but this instrument is useful only under certain diving conditions. It was found that the optimum decompression from any given dive followed a continuous ascent path of varying slopes(or rates of ascent), having in general a compound curve. This ascent path would be automatically generated if the Diver controlled his depth to conform with the safe ascent depth continuously supplied by the Analogue Computer, all relevant information being read from a single dial. The first bench model of an Analogue Computer was constructed to operate on a speeded up time scale, and was used to verify previous calculation. In March 1963, the first prototype suitable for diving was produced by Patent Development & Prototype under contract, and the first sea and chamber dives were carried out at the Royal Canadian Navy Diving Establishment(West Coast) in July To further verify laboratory work by actual experiments, using man as a guinea pig, the first computer was calibrated with a minimum margin of safety in order that the threshold of decompression sickness could be straddled, from time to time, to obtain better data than was hitherto available. While it was quickly obvious that the computer could provide a Diver with safe ascent information, it did so with a significant saving in actual decompression time, since the continuous exponentially shaped ascent is more efficient. Its greatest feature, undoubtedly, is its memory permitting repetitive dives ad lib with the appropriate allowance for all previous dives built in. In July 1964 the hyperbaric chamber at the Toronto General Hospital was made available to the RCN Personnel Research Unit in exchange for medical support and trained assistance. The range of different development versions of decompression computers was explored until, by March of 1965, dives varying from 300 feet for 20 minutes to 72 feet for over 12 hours, using 39 subjects, had been made. A total of 614 dives under carefully controlled circumstances had confirmed the earlier work beyond a doubt. It was now possible to calibrate a computer with a greater safety margin while retaining its superiority over the decompression tables, in terms of time, flexibility and operational efficiency. At the time of writing, 433 dives with such a computer have been made with extremely satisfactory results, with an incidence of decompression sickness from all dives, single or multiple repetitive dives, of about 1.5 %. The Canadian Analogue Decompression Computer is at present being manufactured by Messrs. Huntec Ltd., Toronto, under licence from Canadian Patents and Developments Ltd. While the solution to decompression provided by the computer has been verified during air dives, the idea was conceived to exploit the more advanced diving apparatus using variable mixtures of oxygen and helium, a situation in which the tabular approach to decompression is least appropriate. There are good reasons to believe that it is here, in the control of very deep dives, or repeated sorties from residence diving situations of the SEALAB type, conducted off Bermuda, that computers will provide the greatest contributions. Four years later in 1969 RCN Surgeon Commander Derek J. Kidd wrote that what we are trying to do was increase the range and performance capability of the Diver. To do this, we had to improve the existing breathing apparatus, and, of course, an integral part of any future sophisticated diving system would have to include a means of computing decompression debt. All sorts of people had thought about the many aspects of the problem for many years, and even today the ultimate solution to decompression has not been achieved, even after the recent accelerated concentration on underwater exploration by man. The perfect solution still eludes us. In the meantime, we have devised a practical instrument which monitors a Diver s exposure in terms of depth and time and continually indicates a solution to his decompression problem. The trouble or advantage of the new device is its deceptive simplicity. In effect, the six inch long cylinder carries in its interior as much mathematical capability as
6 can be handled by a mega buck digital computer. It was hard for other scientists to credit the claims for the device until they had done a detailed study of the complex mathematics that formed the foundation for the Diver s friend. Basically, the computer approximates the human body and its capacity for absorbing inert gas under pressure and releasing it as the external pressure decreases. In the little cylinder are four chambers linked by small holes, and each hole is capped by a tiny porous diaphragm which they call pneumatic resistors. As the computer descends with the Diver, it is fed exactly the same breathing mixture as the Diver, and at the same pressure. As the pressure increases with depth, the breathing mixture is forced at an increased rate through the minute holes in the resistor until, if the Diver were at depth until his body was saturated with dissolved gas, the computer s four chambers would all be at equal pressure. As the Diver rises, and the surrounding pressure is slowly decreased, the gas in the chambers of the computer slowly leak out again at a similar rate to that at which the human body releases it. All the Diver has to do is watch the needle on his computer and keep it in line with the needle of the depth gauge and he knows he is decompressing at the fastest rate commensurate with safety. When the Diver reaches the surface, it doesn t necessarily mean that all the accumulated gas has been discharged from his body. Nor has the computer discharged all the gas it has accumulated under the same conditions; the four chambers are all trying to equalize their pressure through the resistors with the atmospheric pressure. When they do, the Diver knows that his own system is free of unwanted gas. Bur if he has to dive again before he s free of excess gas, the computer remembers for him exactly how much accumulated gas he still has in his system, adds any new load he may take on in his next dive, and continues to calculate the rate at which he must rise to accommodate the gases accumulated from both dives. The number of descents the Diver may make is immaterial, the computer takes them all into consideration and tells the Diver exactly where he stands. And it doesn t stop there. If the Diver on the Pacific Coast is needed inland and has to fly over the mountains, the computer tells him at what altitude it is safe for him to fly. And so long as the Diver keeps the computer with him in the same atmospheric pressure he is breathing, the computer will tell him exactly how much gas is left in his system after he has flown over the hump and dived again on the other side of the mountains. While it will still be some time before the Canadian Pneumatic Analogue Decompression Computer becomes available in commercial quantities, more than 18 have been built by the Institute of Environmental Medicine(IEM) workshops, or by outside technicians. In four and a half years, the various models have logged more than 16,000 hours of actual and simulated diving, with one or two having more than 2,000 hours on them. They are being used continually by the experimental diving team at the Institute, and at the Defence Research Establishment(DRE) in Toronto in a test and evaluation program that indicates that the new instrument has possibly more versatility than the inventors anticipated. For example, bench tests and experimental dives have indicated that it is able to provide decompression solutions for the diver who is breathing a special gas mixture such as oxygen and helium. This is extremely important in terms of future diving techniques. To state a very complex problem in simple terms, a Diver needs oxygen to live. But he also needs some other diluent gas to ventilate his system and dump the carbon dioxide he produces, and to equalize the pressure in his lungs with the pressure around him. Ordinary air, composed predominantly of oxygen and nitrogen, is fine, except that oxygen under pressure becomes toxic, and nitrogen under pressure becomes narcotic. So, to increase the depth to which Divers can go beyond the limits where oxygen becomes toxic and nitrogen, narcotic considerable effort is being devoted to techniques which will mechanically provide oxygen at a safe pressure topped up with a gas, like helium, which can be breathed in safely at high pressure. There is still much work to be done in this field, but it appears that the new computer can give an appropriate answer to the Diver for different mixtures of gases without reprogramming. This could mean that a Diver might do his shallow dives on air, for example, switch to a special gas mixture for deep dives, and his personal computer would give him a cumulative history of both dives. In short, the computer appears to be even more flexible than was originally anticipated. In the past 18 months, the
7 IEM DRET team has been working on miniaturization of the computer, both for Divers and for clinical work in hospitals. One of the models, which looks like five thermometers in series, is so simple in design that they have high hopes for its future in the clinical field. Yet another application of the concept is embodied in a fast time electrical analogue computer which they have developed. This portable, battery powered model can be used for planning major diving operations, or for the remote diagnosis of a variety of problems that might be faced by Divers on the job. To date, a number of nations have shown a keen interest in the new computers, and three of the diving models are out on loan for testing and evaluation in Britain and the United States. Although a number of agencies have tried in the past to produce a similar device for the US Navy, the Canadian product leads the field. To quote a recent article from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, This combination of pneumatic diving gauge and electrical analogue appears to be the most significant advance in diving technology in many years!!