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Incident: Navigational error whilst scootering Reported: 23rd August 2007
       
Description: Three divers entered the first sump of Plura River Cave. The dive plan was to pass sump one (460m/-34m) using scooters and then continue for a familiarisation dive in sump two, with a planned maximim depth of 45m. The dive was done on air. Halfway through sump one there is a line junction, but one of the lines (tothe right) is not easily visible from some angles. Visibility was fair, but several other teams of divers had dived the same site that day, making vis a bit patchy. The lead diver (diver A) failed to spot the line junction and continued on the left hand line by a mistake (it had been intended to take the right line). The other divers followed, but after about a further 50m it was clear to the party that a navigational error had been made. A hasty conference underwater decided upon a retreat, but only after some handwaving and rather indecisive signals. The junction was regained and as the situation was back under control the orignal dive plan was completed (except that the diver A felt a bit shaken by the experience and elected not to dive sump 2).
 
Lessons learned: When scootering at high speed line junctions come and go very fast. A junction which is very obvious from one angle may be hard to see from another. Slow down if visibility is at all doubtful. Patchy visibility is particularly dangerous. The team did not have a clear plan to deal with a navigational error. There is no universal signal for "we are lost". Don't just follow the diver in front!
 
Contributary factors      
Factor   Contribution  
Line management Major  
Gas Management Negligible  
Equipment management Negligible  
Equipment failure Negligible  
Training Minor  
Medical Negligible  
Planning Minor  
Procedural error Minor  
Cave environment Negligible  
Weather Negligible  
Other Negligible
 
   

 

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