Wessex Archaeology Visit 2005

There was an evening tour of the Wessex Archaeology diving boat Xplorer on Thursday 23rd September at 7:30pm. The first trick was to get us all across the boats moored nearest to the harbour wall, easier said than done, but once we'd got there the boat was spacious both inside and out, unsurprisingly for a commercial dive boat! A number of CISMAS members attended and were treated to explanations of everything from the surface air supply diving to the positioning systems used to track the diver's position underwater and therefore mark the position of any finds. Thorough explanations were given of how it all worked, especially with respect to how the equipment was retrieved from the sea bed with a minimum of debris left in the environment.

The dive vessel is fitted out with everything for surface supply diving, and it was fascinating to see the whole procedure from the gas mixing panels through to the gas supply, and surface to diver communications. We were treated to a video of a dive on a wreck which Wessex archaeology had been monitoring, which had been recorded from a diver mounted camera during a dive on the wreck. Wessex archaeology being a commercial diving operation all the divers hold commercial diving qualifications, and use surface supply rather than SCUBA due to HSE regulations.

We ended the evening with a chat down the pub which both groups enjoyed, having a general conversation about diving, and underwater archaeology in general. I think everyone who attended learned something about Wessex archaeology and their involvement in underwater archaeology, but it was also made very enjoyable by the guys from the Xplorer, who were willing to answer all our questions, and made themselves available on one of their rare evenings on shore!

Helen Butcher