Navy sets new deep sea diving record

Even it is seen as a fascinating thing to glide around enjoying the underwater sights, diving entails some risk. Banishing all these risks aside, a diving officer of the Sri Lanka Navy together with his buddy diver set a new deep sea diving record in Trincomalee on 17th July 2021. Commander Nishantha Balasooriya – the Command Diving Officer at Naval Dockyard Trincomalee, along with his buddy - Able Diver WWNP Sandaruwan set a new record plunging an astonishing depth of 100 meters off the Elephant Island, Trincomalee.

To accomplish this milestone in the annals of Sri Lanka Navy, both the divers stayed well-prepared with a number of practice dives – a 73 meter (242 feet) dive on 15th March and subsequently another 75 meter (246 feet) dive on 13th July, prior to their record breaking achievement.

When the day finally arrived, Commander Nishantha Balasooriya and Able Diver WWNP Sandaruwan were up to the task with some of the most essential pieces of dive equipment which included tri-mix air (Helium, Oxygen and Nitrogen mixture) along with manual depth gauging recorded in decompression charts. Both the divers were accompanied by a support party up to a depth of 40 meters and snaps of the descend and ascend were captured as memories to cherish later.

This unique undertaking by the two divers is thought to be the deepest dive ever performed by a Sri Lanka Navy Frogman making it unquestionably a one-of-a-kind feat.The range of diving expeditions undertaken by Sri Lanka Navy divers used to be Close Circuit rebreathers using 100% oxygen, Open Circuit Scuba Diving and Surface Supply Diving using compressed air of nitrogen and oxygen at atmospheric ratio. However when 100% oxygen is used, the diving depth is limited only to 18m.When compressed air is being used, the depth limit may be extended up to 55m (180 feet) but generally accompanied by sickness of nitrogen narcosis and also time limits due to decompression sickness. As such, since 1964, SLN divers had to carry out their missions with these limitations. To cross this barrier and plunge further down these two divers experimented the tri-mix air method and also tried out four gas mixtures at different phases of the dive, at different depths.

The most significant aspect of this chain of events is that both divers did it at their own will, which lets everybody know about their passion and devotion and serves as an example to all young officers and sailors in the naval family.

This herculean task by Commander Nishantha Balasooriya and Able Diver WWNP Sandaruwan earned much credit to Navy Divers in general and in particular the Sri Lanka Navy that produces similar prospects time and again.

The two won laurels for proving that humans can in fact survive under such conditions. Let us wish both of them best of luck to set more records diving underwater and resurface with glory to the men in blue.