JFD launches new breakthrough bailout rebreather system to safeguard the lives of commercial divers

News story 4 - body image.jpgThe COBRA system significantly enhances subsea safety, providing more than double the standard supply of emergency breathing gas.

JFD, the leading global subsea operations and engineering company, part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has today announced the launch of its new Compact Bailout Rebreathing Apparatus (COBRA) for commercial divers, as a direct response to the urgent need for significant improvements in safety in the saturation diving industry.

The system significantly extends the duration of the supply of emergency breathing gas, delivering 45 minutes of emergency life support at a depth of 120 meters.  A conventional open-circuit 300 bar twinset bailout system will deliver only seven minutes at that depth. The extended emergency breathing gas supply significantly improves the likelihood of a successful rescue in the event of an emergency.

COBRA is a unique bailout system, designed and developed by JFD as part of its Divex range of rebreathers, and supplies up to 45 minutes of fully independent breathing gas in an emergency scenario. The system is designed to be smaller than most bailout systems, ensuring COBRA does not impact on the operations of the diver.

COBRA is entirely mechanical with no complex electronic systems that could potentially compromise its safety. COBRA is operated via a single turn activation and can be tested prior to its use without affecting the functionality of the system, providing reassurance to the diver that there is a reliable and efficient life support system in place in case of an emergency. Compared to conventional bailout methods such as SCUBA, which at certain depths provides less than ten minutes of breathing gas, the development of the advanced technology of COBRA is a significant step forward in improving subsea safety.

Giovanni Corbetta, managing director at JFD, said:

“Modern diving operations bring significantly more risk, and continuing to use systems which can only provide a few minutes of emergency gas puts lives in danger.  The COBRA system has been rigorously tested and has a proven ability to significantly extend the provision of emergency life support without impacting the operations of diver, allowing them to carry out their duties with minimal risk. Our entire focus and commitment as a company is founded upon improving diver safety and setting new benchmarks within the industry.”

It is widely recognised in the commercial diving industry that the same extended bailout breathing facility used as standard in operations at depths of over 200 meters sea water (msw) should be available for divers operating at 50-200 msw, a far more common operating depth. Modern diving operations often require the use of extended excursion umbilicals from bigger diving bells, meaning that the time required to return to the safety of the bell can be greatly extended. When combined with factors such as cold water, darkness, subsea structures and a diver’s alarm and disorientation, the risk to the diver’s life is significantly increased. It is critical that divers have a substantial emergency breathing gas supply that is adequate for the operating conditions to ensure that their safety is assured.

The diving industry has already begun to recognise and address the increased risk associated with modern saturation diving operations; the Norwegian petroleum industry has dictated via NORSOK standards that divers must have a minimum of 10 minutes of emergency breathing air, circulated at a rate of 62.5l/min. This requirement renders many common systems such as SCUBA out of scope and therefore unsafe for use.

JFD has undergone an extensive period of rigorous testing and trials of the COBRA system to ensure that the equipment reaches the highest standards in safety and quality. COBRA has already been recognised for its innovative approach to driving the improvement of safety standards in the diving industry, following its nomination for an Innovation Award at the annual Elevator awards in 2015.