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by Dominic Robinson
Header image—Does the sun ever set on the BSAC empire? All photos courtesy of the British Sub Aqua Club.
Since our creation in 1953, members of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) have been enthusiastic adopters of new diving equipment and procedures. Combined with our strong expeditionary and project focus, this has resulted in us being some of the first technical divers to visit iconic wrecks such as the HMS Prince of Wales/Repulse, HMS Victoria and RMS Egypt.
As a largely amateur organisation largely based on local clubs in the UK, individual BSAC technical divers can find it difficult to find others who share their passion. To address this, BSAC Technical centrally organises events such as technical try dives and training courses, all coordinated using our Facebook page. Until the pandemic we also organised a number of annual expeditions to places such as the world-famous wrecks off Malin Head, Donegal, which were very popular.
We have also seen technical diving becoming increasingly common in individual branches, leading to divers on the same boat and site using single cylinders, twinsets, sidemount, and CCRs. Some branches are fortunate enough to have very strong cadres of technical divers, and an excellent example is the Plymouth Sound Branch. In 2020, the club organised approximately 20 dives in the 60-80 meter/196-261 feet range mainly from their club RIBs and were also some of the very first divers to visit HMS Victory (1744) which lies in 78 metres of water in the middle of the English Channel.
BSAC Tech Webinars
BSAC is producing a series of webinars, many of which are of interest to Technical Divers. Non-members can access them by following the BSAC Technical Group Facebook page where they are advertised. Here are some of their recorded webinars:
Coming April 14 at 19:30 GMT:
The Relevance Of WWII Oxygen Experiments To Today’s Rebreather Divers by Paul Haynes. Driven by wartime operational requirements following a series of diving accidents–some of which were fatal–in the early 1940s, the UK Royal Navy undertook an extensive program of manned oxygen toxicity diving experiments to determine ‘safe’ oxygen exposure limits. Eight decades later, these experiments still stand today as the defining work in oxygen toxicity in humans. The presentation examines the key findings of these experiments and their relevance for today’s nitrox/rebreather diver. Anyone wanting to watch this talk needs to email email@example.com. All you need to do is send the email saying you want to attend, and you’ll receive the link on the day.
To support our branches in their technical diving, BSAC has long published Safe Diving guidance and created training, including some of the first CCR courses in Europe. In the last few years, we have been an important part of the highly successful worldwide collaboration to develop international standards (ISO) for rebreather training including the welcome inclusion of trimix on the earliest decompression course. Even before final publication, we are revising our own courses so that they will be compliant at the earliest possible opportunity and have already successfully trialed them.
As a broad church, BSAC Technical is proud to provide a forum for debates to improve Technical Diving, so we were particularly pleased to support Paul Haynes’ recent article and webinar on Mouthpiece Retaining Straps (MRS). Last year, BSAC also led the way by providing detailed information on the importance of managing gas density and were the first training agency to release gas density look-up tables which are now being built into our procedures.
In summary, BSAC Technical is a group of passionate divers who have come together to improve procedures and assist others to achieve technical skills; but mainly we want to do as much technical diving as possible! As the world situation improves, we’re very much looking forward to getting back into the water again.
Dominic Robinson is a former Army officer and military helicopter pilot. He now manages the Joint Service Sub Aqua Diving Centre (JSSADC) based in Plymouth, which delivers recreational and technical diving training to members of the UK Armed Forces. An Advanced Mixed Gas (80m) CCR Instructor and Instructor Trainer, he is the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Technical Chief Examiner.
In Memoriam: Martin Cridge
The InDepth team joins the scuba community in mourning the sudden loss of Martin Cridge, one of Truk Lagoon’s most popular dive guides and captains, who was also the author of InDepth’s “Wreck in Depth” feature sponsored by Dirty Dozen Expeditions. The 52-year old Cridge, captain of the Truk Master liveaboard died unexpectedly on Friday, 18 June, 2021 while in the Marshall Islands. Here are statements from Dirty Dozen Expeditions and Master Liveaboards, which were released on their websites.
by Aron Arngrimsson and Steve Jones
Photos courtesy of Dirty Dozen Expeditions and Steve Jones
It is with a sense of great sadness, shock, and a heavy heart that we announced the untimely passing of a beloved partner, father, and the co-founder of DDE, Captain Martin Cridge. He passed away on Friday 18 June 2021 in Majuro, Marshall Islands. This news was very unexpected, leaving friends, family, and all the people across the globe that care about him shocked to the core.
Martin made an immense impact on the diving industry over his long and iconic career and his memory shall live on in our hearts. As we all take time to soak up the news, we have been commemorating our great friend, colleague, and diver, Captain Martin Cridge. Loved by many, join us as we dive deep into the kind and moving words shared by people all over the globe.
Master Liveaboards wrote: “There are very few people that knew more or were more passionate about the wrecks and the diving in Chuuk and Bikini. Anyone who dived with him will have felt his infectious enthusiasm. Everyone who dealt directly with him at Master Liveaboards and The Dirty Dozen felt it too. Martin was pivotal in us developing Bikini Atoll as a destination for Master Liveaboards as well as building the reputation of Truk Master as a highly respected technical diving operation. Not only this but he was instrumental in the set-up and success of The Dirty Dozen Expeditions in Truk and Bikini.”
The news also brought a flood of tributes from luminaries of the scuba diving world, expressing their appreciation for the good times shared and his great wealth of knowledge.
Aron Arngrimsson (Owner, Dirty Dozen Expeditions)
The diving industry has lost one of its brightest and his family and friends have lost a father, partner, son, and a friend. Martin changed my life and career drastically for the better by being instrumental in coming up with the Dirty Dozen Expeditions. He thought of the name while sharing a cold beer on deck after a hard week on the boat, and he was involved until his last day. During the years we spent together on the Truk Master, on countless expeditions in Truk Lagoon, Bikini Atoll, and beyond, he was never shy about sharing and passing along his vast knowledge about wreck-diving, wreck photography, history, and all the things that made a difference between a customer having a good trip, to having an unforgettable trip.
Some of the most memorable dives of my career were when Martin and I sneaked off the boat together exploring on long rebreather dives. Martin’s strong personality was a force to be reckoned with on deck, which commanded his crew’s respect, but deep inside they knew him to be a good and kind soul. After I left the boat and started Dirty Dozen full time, we stayed in touch nearly every single day and further grew our friendship. We shared many more breathtaking adventures through Dirty Dozen which were an outlet for both of us to share our passion to the limit. Martin was a great skipper, outstanding trip leader, incredible wreck photographer, and a dear friend which we lost way too soon, and he will be more than missed. Let us all remember his dry sense of humor, his resolve, and his kindness. He will be with me on every dive in Truk and Bikini in spirit and is forever a part of Dirty Dozen’s legacy.
Until next time, skipper.
Earlier this year, when I was reminiscing with Martin about his favourite Truk Lagoon wrecks, I couldn’t imagine that within months I’d be penning words of remembrance about him. Martin’s untimely passing is particularly poignant because he leaves behind his young son Tyke and his partner Elaine, a devastating loss for them. There was simply so much life left for him to live and so much life that he was a part of.
Martin was an instantly likeable character whose knowledge and enthusiasm rubbed off on those around him. He was in his element underwater and was a talented photographer in his own right, therefore his input and guidance were invaluable to me as we navigated through the labyrinths inside the wrecks of Truk. I spent some of the most enjoyable hours of my diving career here with him. In deep water and far inside wrecks that I was unfamiliar with, it was the implicit trust I had in him that enabled the creation of each image—a team effort like no other.
What I’ll always remember most about him, though, is his warmth, that sense of humour, and above everything else, just what a genuinely nice guy he was.
Anyone that met Martin might call him a guru. He was a wealth of knowledge with raw diving talent. He had the heart of a generous humanitarian, and whether he was guiding divers or delivering supplies to a remote community, his home was the sea.
I always enjoyed catching up with Martin. We would meet up at the Sunset bar at Blue Lagoon In Truk and get caught up over a few beers or winesies. He could never understand why I asked the guys to put my bottle of wine in the fridge. We would joke and complain about the world and just enjoy spending some time together. He was a good soul, pure of heart, and he genuinely cared about people. Whenever I am at the Sunset bar, I will look over to the place where you used to sit and raise my (chilled) glass of red wine in your memory. You are what we call a GB (a Good Bast*rd). The world is a smaller place without you mate.
A great loss of a kind soul and expert wreck diver. My heart goes out to the loved ones left behind.
Martin was one of the nicest guys you could meet and a fantastic skipper.
There were so many fond memories from our trip with Martin to Bikini Atoll, but one that springs to mind was from an encounter with one of the region’s apex predators. Over a couple of days, we had started to be watched by first one and then up to three Tiger sharks. The largest of these came in closer and closer until on one dive it was getting VERY close. I was next to Martin on the Deco bar, he looked at my computer which said c40 minutes of stops to go and then he showed me his, which had a similar amount. Not a comfortable situation to be in! He paused momentarily and then calmly unclipped his bailout bottle as if getting it ready to use against said shark should things get dicey. When we got out, he calmly joked, “I wonder how that shark would get on with no teeth”, such was his sense of humour after an undeniably intense and unforgettable encounter.
From the moment you stepped onboard, Martin’s passion and knowledge of these wrecks rubbed off on you. His smart banter and ability to walk through a whole section or room of a wreck from memory was awe inspiring. With a massive love for the location and of course the people, experiencing the Pacific the way Martin did can only be spoken by sailor’s wishes and diver’s dreams.
2017 was the first time I met Martin, 8000 miles from my home back in the UK. Turns out Martin hailed from over the hill in Huddersfield. Over the years we stayed in touch, swapping updates on family, diving trips and Huddersfield United (football club). Martin threatened to rush back to the UK if they got back into the premiership, but it wasn’t to be.
Martin, thanks for the fantastic trips, the help and advice… you will be missed.
A diving superstar – an amazing man in so many ways who saved me from the dentist room in the silted out Saratoga then looked after me with the bends on the same Bikini trip
A truly amazing human a great loss
REST IN PEACE Martin
So tragic to lose such a pioneer and good man, and our hearts go out to his wife and family and those in his team who will miss him so much. RIP Martin
Martin was an incredible man. Such a generous man with both his time and knowledge. He will be greatly missed in our industry.
He’ll be sorely missed, not only by family and friends, but by the wider diving community who encountered his experience and knowledge of Truk Lagoon! Not to mention the photography! May He Rest in Eternal Peace!!
Vale Martin Cridge, thank you for all you have done in the diving world and beyond. You will indeed be missed.
RIP Martin, a great guy, diver, photographer, skipper, and family man. He will be missed. Thoughts with his family
Terrible news, great skipper, learnt his craft in the Royal Navy & a true professional… My thoughts with his family & friends, he’ll be sorely missed.. RIP Shipmate…
Terrible news. Martin was a competent skipper, a larger-than-life personality, and he will be missed during our future visits to Micronesia
Such a shock. A truly brilliant and knowledgeable skipper, he will be missed.
What an absolute tragedy! So sad to hear that. He was a great guy. What a loss for his family, and all us that knew him.
Nobody can say “Aikoku” like Martin. RIP captain.
I will miss you, Martin. We have lost a friend and a great wreck diver. I will also miss your inspiring stories and common dives beneath the Pacific waves. Rest in peace, my friend.
Didier B. Follain-Grisell
Indeed, shocking news! Martin was such a good guy! Quiet, extremely knowledgeable, great photographer, and of course Captain. He will be missed by all that knew him.
Joel Cprs DT
I’ll remember Martin in many positive ways—with a big smile and a great sense of humor, always great with a story. My condolences to your wonderful family. Rest in Peace Captain!
So sad to hear this about Martin.
I was lucky enough to be on the inaugural dirty dozen trip, and Martin was a huge part of making that special. Not just as skipper, but also he dived with us, took some awesome pictures, and showed us parts of the wreck only someone with his time in Truk could have got us to.
I was lucky enough to get to know Martin when I was Truk, and I really enjoyed getting to do several CCR dives with him. We had some surreal moments in engine rooms and I’ll never forget our one dive at dusk on our rebreathers as sharks swam around us feeding. It was amazing. And he knew soooo much about the wrecks. He was so much fun to talk to. He will be sorely missed.
Unbelievable news, sorry to hear this. Thoughts go out to the family and God speed on returning you home to your loved ones. Thank you for your time with us in Cyprus
Kate & Matt Robinson
Terribly saddened that this has happened to such a genuinely nice guy. We enjoyed our time with him in Truk. His knowledge and passion for expedition diving was infectious. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Martin was part of the Master Liveaboards family. His knowledge and passion for wreck diving and WWII were contagious, and he will be missed. I will always remember a visit in the Philippines where we stumbled onto a small WWII museum and the stories and history of the US military presence in the Philippines and role in SEA he recounted. Thank you Martin.
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