Release date: 12 November 2018

JFD successfully completes hyperbaric mating trials to drive improved safety at sea

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JFD, the world-leading underwater capability provider serving the commercial and defence markets and part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has successfully completed mating trials with their Lloyd’s classed portable Hyperbaric Rescue Facility (HRF) with Boskalis DSV BOKA Atlantis. The mating trials with the HRF and two Self-propelled Hyperbaric Lifeboats (SPHLs) were completed, as planned, in a period of 11 hours with no complications, representing a significant advancement for hyperbaric rescue.

During the trial JFD successfully mated with the port and starboard SPHLs to the portable HRF. The entry locks of the SPHLs were pressurised to 305msw, equivalent to the equipment’s maximum working depth. The trials simulated the maximum duration expected to safely transfer divers from the SPHL into the HRF. The speed which the SPHLs were mated is critical as transferring the divers as quickly as possible can be vital to saving their lives. The mating exercise was performed in a safe, controlled manner using hydraulics to lower and align the SPHL. The Portable HRF mating flanges allow the operator to retain optimum control, maximising the potential of a successful rescue operation.

In the event of an offshore emergency evacuation, even once saturation divers have reached the perceived relative safety of the surface via a hyperbaric lifeboat, they still need to undergo a thorough decompression process to gradually return them to sea level before being exposed to atmospheric pressure. This requires the capability of a hyperbaric rescue system. Although the preferred option may be to transfer saturation divers to a fixed Hyperbaric Rescue Centre (HRC) often due to time constraints, and depending the location of the diving campaign, this can be challenging.  Therefore having access to a portable HRF, at the nearest available port, is a key element which allows the divers to begin decompression sooner. It is critical that this process is handled with care and due diligence to ensure that the divers are not exposed to any risk of decompression sickness.

Giovanni Corbetta, JFD Managing Director, commented:
“Speed is critical in ensuring the safe and successful rescue of divers, and having not only the technical capability but the tried and tested expertise to deploy them in the event of an emergency will safeguard the lives of those operating subsea in some of the most extreme and hazardous conditions. The success of these mating trials is testament to the hard work and dedication of both Boskalis and JFD’s personnel in ensuring that there is the best possible safety solution in place, should this service be called upon.”

JFD has played a leading role in the provision of hyperbaric reception services having maintained the UK’s only land based fixed HRF, at the National Hyperbaric Centre, since 1987. Building on this pedigree, and its success as a global hyperbaric rescue operator, the company has designed and built multiple advanced HRF systems that are currently in operation globally. These are designed to allow for the configuration to mate to a recovered SPHL or to a HRC whilst operating anywhere in the world, connecting with a bottom or side-mated SPHL or side-mated HRC, and maximising the potential of a successful rescue. This allows divers to transfer under pressure to or from the HRF to carry out a safe decompression, enabling the divers to return to safety.

JFD portable HRF systems are easily transportable and are designed to suit a variety of SPHL and HRC configurations. The systems are classed under Lloyd’s Register and are fully compliant with IMCA D052 guidelines. JFD has provided support to a number of North Sea diving contractors for many years through our fixed HRF system at our National Hyperbaric Centre.

Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. is a leading global services provider operating in the dredging, maritime infrastructure and maritime services sectors. The company provides creative and innovative all-round solutions to infrastructural challenges in the maritime, coastal and delta regions of the world with services including the construction and maintenance of ports and waterways, land reclamation, coastal defense and riverbank protection. In addition, Boskalis offers a wide variety of marine services and contracting for the oil and gas sector and offshore wind industry as well as salvage solutions. Furthermore, Boskalis has a number of strategic partnerships in harbor towage and terminal services (Kotug Smit Towage, Keppel Smit Towage, Saam Smit Towage and Smit Lamnalco). With a versatile fleet of more than 900 vessels and floating equipment and 10,700 employees, including associated companies, Boskalis operates in 90 countries across six continents.