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13 septembre 2015 7 13 /09 /septembre /2015 17:44
Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

It all started one fine winter morning in Berlin where I was working at the time on a huge underwater concrete construction where I was doing the night shift. I had just fallen asleep when the hotel phone rang.

While gasping on the bastard who did not respect my sleep, I picked up and said:

- Hello Was Wollen Sie.

At the other end of the line, I immediately recognized the voice of my big boss Luc.

Hey why is he calling me so early?

- Ah hello Francis, I hope I do not wake up?

- No okay, what do you want?

- Well you have to phone Comex as soon as possible because they need a specialist in explosives for a work in French Guiana.

On hearing these words Guiana and Explosives my heart began to beat faster.

- Of course I'll call them; besides what do you wait to hang up.

While I was forming the number of the big house in Marseille, I told myself that my boss was certainly misunderstood because to my knowledge, there was no oil in Guyana so I was wondering what a company for which I had worked for many years could do there.

I would not have to wait long to find out.

- Allo Patricia, yes Francis here, it seems that I have to call you for something special?

- Ah hello Francis. You're okay? Yes, we actually seek a superintendent specialized in explosives and as it does not grow on trees here, we thought of you for a job in Guyana.

- But there is no oil in Guyana I replied, then what is this for?

- No there is no oil but there are rockets.

And that's how I learned that the mission they wanted to give me was the recovery at sea of the new Ariane 5 solid boosters (EAPs) on behalf of CNES and as these boosters contained explosives destruction devices, the customer required a guy specialized with this type of stuff.

It did not cost me more than 2 seconds to accept the mission and sorry for my loved one who had to understand that I could not let this go. Moreover, it was now two years since I had left the offshore for her so she had to let me go and finish my career abroad in beauty.

As I said, the Comex contract consisted to recover at sea off Kourou various boosters from the new series of Ariane 5 in order to analyze the structure of the metal.

The entire recovery procedure had been drafted and developed during long months by a German consulting firm and now they had arrived in the final phase of study and asked me to participate in the final preparatory meetings.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The first Ariane flight 501 was scheduled for June and then a full dive team and I plus a ton of equipment were mobilized aboard the Amphitrite an Italian ship whose crew and her Captain denoted a bit with the seriousness of the mission.

A few days before the launch, the ship sailed and began waiting for recovery. Unfortunately as everyone remembers, on June 4 the rocket exploded shortly after launch and off course everyone went home earlier than expected.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

Ditto for the flight A502. The launch was successful, but this time the recovery parachutes did not open and the two boosters crashed at sea.

The A503 flight was scheduled for October 98 and again the whole team mobilized this time on the Neftegas 66 a Russian ship.

On October 19, the ship left the port of Kourou to get in the Atlantic Ocean at some 540 km east of Guyana.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The ship waiting position was in an alleged drop area that had a length of about 25 km and a width of 15 km. As the exact point of impact of the two boosters in this area could not be determined accurately, the ship opted to put herself at the center of the area by saying that statistically speaking this was there that the risk was the lowest to receive the boosters on our heads.

Ariane 503 was successfully launched October 21 and after only a few minutes the drag of the two propellant machines appeared high in the sky.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

Very quickly however a problem happened to one of them as a kind of explosion conjured a white plume in the sky.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

While the high speed fall was followed and filmed by a reconnaissance plane until the booster crashed violently into the sea at a few kilometers of the boat.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The second booster also continued his vertiginous fall towards the sea, but all of a sudden, the various braking parachutes were opened as planned and thus enabled the craft to land into the water more or less smoothly.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

- Hurrah! Hurrah! On board shouts of joy were listened.

This time we could start the mission.

The boat immediately headed to the falling point and once there one could see that the EAP floated almost vertically in the water a bit like a fishing cap.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

Very soon a boat was put in the water and I could go and check the status of the explosives strips and look that there was no risk for my guys.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

As everything was normal, we could immediately start the first part of the procedure which was to secure the booster with some huge balloons filled with air and which function was to keep it afloat during the night if by chance a problem appeared.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The following morning, big surprise, all the balloons were gone but EAP was still floating in the same position as the previous day.

Like we were very far from the coast it was not possible that the floats were stolen. So the only plausible explanation was that they had come off because of the heavy swell motions.

Never mind, we now had to recover the huge parachutes that were still attached to the nose of the booster but dragged under water.

This was rather difficult because the canopy of the main parachute was also equipped with pyro release charges designed to ensure openness.

In principle, all these charges were supposed to have worked, but as nothing was 100% certain we had to work carefully.

Following the working procedure, if we except for the aforementioned risk and the danger to pull the parachutes in the boat’s propellers nothing else were in principle to fear.

All wrong: we had barely begun to pull on the line to lift the parachutes that the booster leaned suddenly forward and laid down on the surface of the water.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


No one knew how to react because this had not been foreseen in the recovery scenario.

Then after a minute or two of anxiety we could see that the machine remained in the same position and immediately hope returned. Immediately order was given to prepare a hawser to try to attach it somewhere on the nose to secure it.

But while we were preparing for this maneuver the booster slowly resumed itself vertically under the bewildered eyes of all.

As everything seemed under control, the project engineer decided not to touch anything and immediately called the various officials for a working meeting to determine what would now be the follow-up to the program.

Given the risk of capsizing, it was agreed to scratch the removal and the recovery of the parachutes from the procedure.

Instead, it was decided to cut the straps of the parachute and then let them sink to the bottom, which was about 4000 meters below.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

That day, the sea was pretty rough and waves of 3 meters were present which made the cutting operation of the Kevlar straps rather complicated.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

But finally, half an hour later, the parachutes went to the bottom.

Then stand-by weather to see the evolution of the sea state.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The next day no change in the sea state but we could see that some of the ring-joints that connected the several segments from the EAP cylinder began to get loose.

A dive was quickly organized in order to see what was happening under water. The result of the inspection was not very good because it showed that several rivets were already missing.

These had probably left their position following the stresses experienced by the huge structure. Immediately the Russian mechanic aboard was enlisted to make a bunch of new pieces that would replace the missing rivets. The missing rivets were quickly replaced in the empty holes but, as was to be expected with the divers, the remaining spare rivets were also used to replace those still in place which allowed us to obtain some memories of this campaign.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

In principle, the next step of the working procedure was to introduce compressed air inside the cylinder in order to remove water and then introduce an IFD (inflated floating device) therein.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

This piece that looked like a huge suppository 5 m long had to be brought by divers under the submerged nozzle at about thirty meters deep, and then be lift up by a series of rather delicate handling in the belly of the EAP where it would eventually be inflated to form a tight plug.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

This maneuver had obviously been successfully tested by the research department, but the conditions of the test were not quite the same as here.

The test had been done in a lake where it was dead calm which was far from the 2 to 3 m continuous swell we had here.

October 27 still no improvement in sight. Worse, because of sea currents, we had already derived more than 500 km and we were now at about one thousand kilometers from the base and something had to be done.

The project engineer insisted to install his baby (IFD) while I categorically refused to do so explaining that we were well beyond the authorized wave heights, and that I had no desire to crush one of my divers between the IFD and booster.

Of course, on board a certain tension began to be felt between the different stakeholders.

Once again, I suggested as I had already done a few days earlier to just set a hawser around the booster and towed it at low speed to Kourou. But the CNES officials and research department feared that doing so would prematurely detonate the destruction strips.

Finally I managed to get them to understand that the risk was negligible and finally after a long discussion everyone on board was now aware that this was the only remaining solution to try to bring this huge cylinder to land.

The hawser was smoothly fixed around the booster by the divers and finally the Neftegas 66 switched his engines on and the low-speed towing began.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The first hours were of course quite stressful because I had raised the suggestion to do so but I did not know at all how the booster would react at the end of its tow line.

But all went well.

My periodic inspections showed that the explosives were free from stress and towing continued for 8 days.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

During the trip we could observe that the structure kept an angle varying between 10 and 30 °.

This was unfortunately a bad position because it would not allow to cross the shallow Strait situated between the salute islands and the port of Pariacabo. So on November the fourth we again stopped the ship and thanks to the scientific calculations of the engineer we trained for the next two days to lay this huge tube flat on the water and then straighten it again.

The flat position seemed to suit the passage of the final kilometers, but to ensure the manoeuver the engineer decided that the craft's ass had to be closed.

To do so, he decided to dismantle the huge bag being inside the IFD and introduce it into the booster nozzle.

This was easier said than done because the long bag was filled with a thin film coat of air and divers were unable to make it sink.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

Worse yet, we had to handle the bag with extreme caution because it was quite fragile.

In short at the end of the day the membrane was still not in place and our engineer really started to get on our nerves by wanting us to do so shit maneuver.

The atmosphere was explosive and I felt that punches were going to get lost.

Result for the third time in my career I decided to yell at a supervisor and shouted to him:


As he was not used to see me like that he realized there was a problem and nodded.

The bag was brought back on board and we stopped the working day.

Next morning, new briefing where it was decided to replace the IFD bag by one of the 10 T inflatable balloon we still had on board.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

It was put in place on November 7 and by the time we celebrated the success of the operation, the booster suddenly began to nosedive and start to sink.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The nose went deeper and deeper and then suddenly the cylinder plunged like a whale.


Then suddenly as everyone thought the booster was lost for good, the descent stopped.

- It is not possible my heart will not hold it.

The engine was there floating upside down in a vertical position with only 5 meters to go before being fully submerged.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

But now I was certain we were going to bring the beast at home because it really did not feel like sinking.

Of course as you might suppose the big chief summoned his staff to analyze the cause of the incident. After much discussion we concluded that near sinking was probably due to a water leak around the balloon we had to install.

We now had to again face a scenario not foreseen in the recovery manual. How to return a spacecraft floating upside down in the Atlantic Ocean? After several brain storming hours during which our different brains began to smoke we came to the conclusion that it was necessary to cautiously pump the water that was now in the tube.

But the risk was obviously great to see the booster fill up again as soon as he falls flat on the water. So to avoid this, quite simple, we would clog the opening of the nozzle with a metal plate only pierced by a few vents to ensure the passage of some cables and pumping hose.

Not difficult, that was easy to say, because we had to get on the rocket, whose ass was still between 5 and 7 meters above the surface and here no question of installing a ladder in the zodiac as we would break our neck because of the swell.

Again, someone had a brilliant idea:

- Why don’t we storm it with a grapple and climbing ropes?

Here, the idea was found, it remained only to prepare the necessary materials and forward it from Kourou.

Obviously, the preparation of this special order would not be done in a few hours. Thus, to lower the stress and the tension of the last hours, the project manager decided to organize a small break under the form of an evening on land.

We were only a few hours away from the base and thanks to the sending of a speedboat the entire dive crew disembarked for the Salute Islands where a helicopter shuttle was organized to bring us to Kourou.

There, hotel rooms had been retained so that we could spend a quite night.

Despite the excellent meal we had not yet fully recovered from all our emotions, so as it should be expected, the only solution that was offered to us if we did not want to sink into depression was to end the evening in a nightclub.

It was a night to remember. One more time my innate gift for the dance (that I doubtless hold of my old mom) allowed me to let off steam at the rate of the tropical music.

The next day was harder, because for the first time, I could now feel the first disadvantages of my growing age. Fortunately my hangover lasted only a short time and back on board I was again ready to work.

All the requested material had arrived and it only remained us to storm the booster.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project


Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

The setting up of the small pump and the blanking of the nozzle passed without problem and after some hours of pumping, the booster slowly returned to its normal position.

Then through some additional manipulations we were ready for the final towing to the Islands where we were eagerly awaited.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

Once on-the-spot with our trophy, our boat put herself at anchor while waiting for the arrival of the HENARES. It was indeed this local barge which had to ensure the final towing to the port.

On the 14 November, all was ready, we had installed an air back up hose in the ass of the booster to if necessary blow air in his belly and so keep him in a flat position and we only had to receive permission from the port authorities to get under way.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

But as the time passed and no order arrived from shore, we decided nevertheless to already set off for the pass because the passage had to be done at high tide so be sure to have enough water under the barge.

We were now about halfway into the channel when suddenly an incongruous order came on the radio.

- Henares! Henares! Henares! Here the captaincy.

- What are you doing in the middle of the pass?

- I order you to turn back and return to your starting point.

On board, everyone thought it was a joke. Nobody could have imagined that so a silly order could be given.

- Henares! Confirm that you received the order.

The Captain of the barge immediately replied:

- Harbor master: here Henares for your information we have the Ariane 503 booster in tow and request authorization to continue our journey.

- Henares: You did not follow the approach procedure; we summon you to turn back.

And so, seeing that we were dealing with a zealous autocrat the barge made a great loop to return to the starting point.

Once again, we were lucky because during this maneuver, the man in charge of the backup inflation hose didn’t give slack on it and of course the hose was pulled out the nozzle.

Fortunately, the divers responded immediately to the incident by placing the flexible back.

Finally, the authorization was given and two hours later the booster arrived safely in the port of Maracaibo.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

Our mission was finished and all there remained to do was to demobilize the equipment.

In the evening a great meal was organized by CNES people to thank us.

Ariane 503 or the story of my last offshore project

My Comex companions left the next day for Europe and I knew I would probably never see them again. I stayed a couple of days more in Kourou to finish the usual paperwork then at my turn said goodbye to Guyana and to this offshore life I had liked so much.

Papy One

Repost 0
22 août 2015 6 22 /08 /août /2015 15:31
Lost at sea

End 93, I received a phone call from Marseille.

The big House offered me a Mooring Master Supervisor position in Cameroon to replace the old Raymond, who was retiring.

- MMS, this title looks good, I replied, but I do not even know of what it consists.

- BOF you'll see, my interlocutor says, is a super cool job which consists to go on oil tankers and then lead them to an offshore loading buoy (SPM) to refuel them with crude oil.

- To assist you with this job you will have a French and 4 national divers.

- As to help you for the first mooring you don't have to worry, Jean-René the actual supervisor that’s now on board will stay two weeks longer and he will brief you on this particular job.

- Yeah but what about diving l asked him?

- Don't panic, in addition to the tankers, you will also be in charge of the surface and underwater maintenance of the two loading buoys on the Kole terminal.

As there began to be quite a lot of changes within the company and at the same time diving projects seemed to decrease, it didn’t take me long to accept the offer, especially that once again this type of work would allow me to have regular rotations what suited better to my family life.

Result: A few days later I found myself once more in Douala.

Unlike other places in Africa, this town was pretty nice and with the exception of a few places where it was better not to walk alone, insecurity was not too high and during my various stays there I had undergone only a single aggression with theft attempt.

Being arrived at the airport in the early evening, I learned that my departure at sea was planned for the next morning and therefore a room at the IBIS hotel had be reserved for me which I had to recognize was much nicer than being immediately transferred to the barge via one or the other uncomfortable vessel on which we had sometimes to stay during several hours without even receiving any snack.

Here at least I could dine comfortably, take a nightcap at the bar before leaving civilization for the next 8 weeks and enjoy a last good sleep. OK, when I say a good sleep, I am exaggerating a bit because despite being very comfortable, the hotel was quite noisy.

Often during the night we could hear in the corridors a "Toc! Toc! Toc!" on one or the other door which was naturally followed from "what is it? ''

As for the reply it was always the same "it’s love that knocks at your door."

Obviously, the first time that this happened to me, I was somewhat surprised. But now, knowing this type of local custom, I was taking care to always bring with me, my box of … wax earplugs what allowed me to not be too disturbed by the comings and goings of these charming ladies.

The next morning, en route to the port where I embarked with other local workers on a speedboat that take us on the site.

Lost at sea

A few hours later I am on the SEREPCA a buffer tanker on which I found JR the actual MMS, Bruno my second and my new African colleagues.

Lost at sea

After the presentations with the boat commander and the various crew members, direction to my cabin.

- Hey! hey! Not bad at all, a spacious officer cabin with a desk and a small lounge for me alone, this changes me from the crappy cabins of some rotting barges I’ve be on.

Very quickly, JR walked me through a few points:

- Here, we are on a merchant ship and the rules on board are those of the Navy which means a little more discipline than on our diving barges.

- On board, he continued even for dinner, there is a ritual to respect.

- Nobody comes at the table before the Commander and above all, we respect the seats of each other.

At the beginning, I folded myself as everyone to this last rule, but a little later after having been well integrated within this community of sailors, I felt a perverse pleasure to change seats several times a month to the dismay of the concerned persons.

Over the following days, my buddy initiated me to my new mission who as mentioned earlier was among others to fill the tankers arriving lightship on the terminal.

As one might imagine, filling a tanker is not so easy than refueling a car. Our task when a new ship arrived was to first climb on board and while she was still sailing, mobilize all our rigging and towing gear.

Lost at sea

We had about half an hour to prepare all this stuff, then when the tanker was approaching the buoy.

Lost at sea

The role of the MMS, thus mine now was to stand at the bow of the boat and via the walky talky, give my instructions to the Commander to guide him very precisely during its final approach to allow him to stop his ship at a few meters from the loading buoy.

Lost at sea

Then, once the vessel was moored on the buoy, two thick loading hoses had to be hoisted on board and be connected to the loading manifolds, which then permitted to refuel the several tanks in more or less twenty hours.

Lost at sea

As expected, Jean René returned to France after two weeks and one might say that the first time that I was alone for this task, I sweated not from heat, but from fear because I should rather not miss the maneuver.

If so, two scenarios were possible.

First, the tanker passed next to the buoy and stopped a little too far, this then meant that a new approach had to be done with consequence of at least one hour lost


secondly and worse case, the tanker hits the buoy and tears it off her position which for me would mean that I would be fired.

Fortunately, during my stays, I rapidly learned how these huge mastodons of 150,000 to 200,000 tons behaved and I managed every time to lead them to good port. The frequencies of the loadings were pretty random, which in the meantime allowed us to work on the buoys of KLB1 and KLB2.

Lost at sea

Each SPM buoy had a complete maintenance program that went both above and below water. Under water, among other things the main task of the divers was to verify the state and configuration of the Chinese lantern under buoy hoses which were connected between the SPM and the pipeline end manifold (PLEM) and the condition and configuration of the six huge chains that maintained the buoy in position.

Lost at sea

The inspection dives on the bottom sometimes reserved a few surprises because the visibility was often very limited and therefore it was quite common to have our fingers nibbled by the few small morays that did not appreciate to be disturbed by our tactile inspections.

Another problem of visibility that we met sometimes on the field, but on the surface this time was due to the harmattan. It was a hot and dusty wind that came from the Sahara and which could darken the atmosphere for several consecutive days.

It was such a situation that we encountered on the 2 February 94. That day we left the SEREPCA in the early morning with our zodiac to do some maintenance on the KLB2 buoy which was at about 20 minutes travel from our storage tanker.

The visibility was not terrible, but was still largely sufficient to localize the buoy at halfway. The morning had passed relatively quickly and as noon approached, I decided to stop work and return to the boat for dinner.

Very quickly however, we realized that the atmosphere was charged with sand dust and visibility was reduced to 50 meters. Never mind, the SEREPCA was large enough and could not be missed.

Lost at sea

Thus, full speed and heading to the North.

About 20 minutes later, everybody was on watch to scrutinize the horizon to detect the mass of the tanker, but nothing was in sight, just this kind of fog that prevented us from seeing anything. Normally, we couldn't be far from her because we had sailed roughly at the same speed and during the same time than the outward journey.

So I asked the diver driver to now slowly head NNE for a minute. Nothing, not any boat.

Same thing for two minutes to the NNW, shit, still nothing.

- Ok guys let us stop here it’s not worth risking to get away more.

- I'm going to call the ship and ask them to operate the fog horn so we will be able to direct us to the sound.

So said, so done:

- SEREPCA, SEREPCA, SEREPCA: Diver’s zodiac!

- SEREPCA, SEREPCA, SEREPCA: Diver’s zodiac!

- SEREPCA, SEREPCA, SEREPCA: Diver’s zodiac!

Nothing! No response from the tanker. I looked my watch. 12 h 10, no point of insisting, they were probably all at table. What could I do? Certainly not wait that they had finished their nap.

I knew that our tender boat the Cristal fish had to be somewhere on the field, and therefore, I decided to call her.

A single call sufficed to get a sailor online.

Immediately, I asked him to call for his Superior and two minutes later he was there on the radio.

- Hello Captain Francis here.

- Say, we have a small problem: We are lost.

- Is your ship close to the SEREPCA?

- No Francis we are next to the BOS.

Ah shit, so it was not necessary to ask her to blow the horn, because even if it was heard, the sound would not lead us in the right direction.

Immediately I asked him:

- Can you try to find us on your radar?

- OK one minute, I’m watching.

- No I see nothing on the screen; do a 360 ° at low speed to see.

- Sorry still nothing.

The situation became annoying, ok we had enough fuel to reach the coast which was at about two-hours sail from where we were but we could land anywhere with all the risks that it carried. While I was thinking how to extricate ourselves from this muck-up an idea came to me.

During my stay at the Clearance Divers Group a few decades earlier, we had on our rubber dive boats a reflector which allowed the radar operator to lead us on the suspicious contacts. Therefore, why not do the same thing here. The problem was that we had no reflector in our canoe.

Ok, but we could perhaps make one?

We already had two paddles that could serve as mast, remained to find what to use for the reflector.

- Do we have smokers on board?

Yes, Hervé and Eke are.

- Well sorry guys, can you empty your packets of cigarettes and give me the packaging.

They complied but looked at me oddly when I took the packages and returned them so as to have the aluminum on the outside.

I now had the reflective material. Remained only to find a support and what better than my small backpack. Very quickly the aluminum was stuck on my bag and then latter mounted on the top of the paddles.

Here it was, we had a semblance of reflector. I recalled the Crystal Fish.

- Captain, we have manufactured a reflector, can you watch if you have a contact?

- Go ahead slowly zodiac.

Slowly, our boat setted out.

- Let’s hope it works.

A few seconds later, new call from the supply:

- Zodiac: Crystal fish.

- I get you! You are half a mile from your destination.

- Follow the 105 heading I will remain in contact and guide you.

10 minutes later, our tanker was in sight.

- Cristal Fish : Zodiac

- Go ahead zodiac.

- OK Captain: Ship in sight thanks’ for your help.

- Ok Francis, see you in a few days

Once on board, I saw that the Commander was moody. He said coldly:

- Gentlemen, next time have the politeness to arrive on time at the table.

Well, that’s very rich coming from him I thought without comment.

During the rest of stays if we except this little incident, nothing special arrived during the four rotations I did on this ship.

Work was interesting but there were not enough dives.

In addition to this, my 'little boy' that I had not seen growing was now 24 years old and had left the family nest. As for my loved one, she was bored of this life and begged me to stop.

Result; on the sad day of the 19 August 94, I decided to give my resignation to this company which had given me the opportunity to live an extraordinary adventure for about 16 years.

The remainder of my career was a bit less exciting but still interesting. It consisted in accordance with the predictions made to me by an Indian sailor in 1983, to spend a part of my time on civil engineering diving projects and for the other part, work at the office preparing these jobs while being nicely pampered by the fairer sex who work there.

Papy One

Photos internet

Repost 0
21 août 2015 5 21 /08 /août /2015 20:52

Photo : Pétrolier sur sa bouée
Fin 93, Coup de fil de Marseille. La grande maison me propose un poste de Mooring Master Supervisor au Cameroun pour remplacer le vieux Raymond qui partait à la retraite.

MMS,  ce titre sonne pas mal, répondis-je, mais je ne sais pas du tout en quoi cela consiste.

Bof tu verras, me dit mon interlocuteur, c’est un boulot super cool qui consiste à monter sur les pétroliers et à ensuite les diriger sur une bouée de chargement en pleine mer pour les ravitailler en brut.

Et pour la mise au courant, ne t’inquiètes pas, tu travailleras en double pendant les 2 premières semaines avec Jean-René qui te brieferas sur ce travail particulier.

Ouais mais la plongée dans tous ça  rétorquais-je ?

Pas de panique, en plus des pétroliers, tu auras aussi à t’occuper de la maintenance en surface et sous eau des 2 bouées de chargement du terminal de Kolé.

Comme il commençait à y avoir pas mal de grand changement au sein de la firme et que les chantiers de plongée avaient l’air de diminuer, je m’empressai d’accepter, surtout qu’encore une fois, ce type de chantier allait me permettre d’à nouveau avoir des rotations régulières mieux adaptées à ma vie familiale.

Si bien qu’une fois de plus je me retrouvai quelques jours plus tard à Douala.

A l’inverse, d’autres endroits en Afrique, cette ville était assez agréable et à l’exception de quelques endroits où il valait mieux ne pas se promener seul, l’insécurité n’y était pas trop élevé puisque au cours de mes différents séjours je n’y avais subit qu’une seule agression avec tentative de vol.

Etant arrivé à l’aéroport en début de soirée, j’appris que mon départ en mer n’était prévu que pour le lendemain matin et donc une chambre à l’hôtel IBIS m’avait été réservée ce qui je dois bien le reconnaître était bien plus agréable que d’être immédiatement transféré vers la barge via l’un ou l’autre bateau inconfortable sur lequel il fallait parfois passer plusieurs heures sans même avoir droit à la moindre collation.

Ici au moins je pouvais dîner à l’aise, prendre un dernier verre au bar avant de quitter la civilisation pour les 8 semaines à venir et profiter d’une dernière bonne nuit de sommeil.

Quant je dis passer une bonne nuit de sommeil, je dois dire que j’exagère un peu car bien qu’étant très confortable, cet hôtel était malgré tout assez bruyant.

Souvent au cours de la nuit on entendait dans les couloirs un « toc toc toc » sur l’une ou l’autre porte suivi bien naturellement de « qu’est-ce que c’est ? »

La réponse elle, était toujours la même « c’est l’amour qui frappe à la porte »

Evidemment, la première fois cela  que cela m’arriva, je fus quelques peu surpris.

Mais, maintenant, connaissant ce type de coutume locale, je prenais soin de toujours d’amener avec moi, ma boite de …..boules Quiès, ce qui me permettait malgré tout de ne pas être trop perturbé par les allées et venues de ces charmantes dames.

Le lendemain matin, en route pour le port où j’embarque ainsi que d’autres travailleurs locaux sur une vedette rapide qui va nous emmener sur le site.

Quelques heures plus tard, me voilà sur le tanker tampon SEREPCA à bord duquel m’attend JR, Bruno et ses collègues africains.


Après les présentations d’usage au tonton et les divers membres d’équipage, direction ma cabine.

Hé pas mal du tout, une cabine d’officier spacieuse avec bureau et petit salon pour moi seul, cela change des cabines merdiques de certaines barges pourries que j’avais déjà connu.

Très rapidement, JR me met au parfum, ici, nous sommes sur un navire de la marine marchande et les règles à bord sont celles de la marine ce qui signifie un peu plus de discipline et de tenue que sur nos barges à plongeurs où on n’arrête parfois pas de déconner.

A bord, continua-t-il même pour dîner, il y a un rituel à respecter.

Personne à table avant le Commandant et surtout, on respecte les places de chacun.

Au début, je me pliai comme tout le monde à cette dernière règle, mais un peu plus tard après avoir été bien intégré au sein de cette communauté de marins, j’éprouvai un malin plaisir à changer de place plusieurs fois par mois au grand désarroi des personnes concernées.

Au cours des jours suivants, mon binôme m’initia à ma nouvelle mission qui comme cité plus haut consistait entre autre à remplir les tankers qui arrivaient lège sur le champs.

Comme on peut l’imaginer, remplir un tanker n’est pas aussi aisé que faire le plein de sa voiture.

Pour nous, il fallait d’abord aborder le navire en pleine mer pour y acheminer tout le matériel dont nous avions besoin.

Une fois à bord tandis que le navire continuait sa route vers la bouée, nous disposions d’environ une demi-heure pour préparer le matériel d’amarrage, de relevage et de connexion des gros et lourds flexibles de chargement.

Puis en approchant de la bouée, le rôle du MMS, donc le mien, consistait à se placer à l’avant du bateau et à via le walky talky, donner mes instructions au commandant pour le guider très précisément au cours de son approche finale jusqu’à ce qu’il s’arrête pile à quelques mètres de la bouée de chargement

Ensuite, une fois le navire amarré sur la bouée, les deux gros flexibles de chargement étaient hissés à bord pour être connectés aux manifolds de chargement, ce qui permettait alors de faire le plein des citernes en une vingtaine d’heures.

Comme prévu, Jean René rentra en France au bout de deux semaines et autant dire que la première fois que je fus seul pour accomplir cette tâche, je suais non pas de chaleur, mais bien de trouille parce qu’il ne fallait pas que je me loupe.

Si tel était le cas, deux scénarios étaient possibles.

Soit le pétrolier passait à coté de la bouée et s’arrêtait un peu trop loin, ce qui signifiait alors qu’il était bon pour refaire une nouvelle approche, ce qui voulait dire au minimum une heure de perdue, soit il rentrait dans la bouée, arrachait le tout ce qui signifiait alors que moi j’étais viré.

Heureusement, au cours de mes divers séjours, j’appris rapidement à savoir comment réagissaient ces énormes mastodontes de 150.000 à 200.000 tonnes et parvins à chaque fois à les mener à bon port.

La fréquence des navires étaient assez aléatoire, ce qui permettait alors de travailler entre les chargement sur  les bouées de KLB1 et KLB2.

Chaque bouée, avait un programme d’entretien très complet qui se passait aussi bien au dessus qu’en dessous de l’eau.

Sous eau, la tâche principale des plongeurs consistait à vérifier l’état et la configuration des gros flexibles qui partaient du fond via le PLEM (Pipeline End Manifold) et arrivaient sous la bouée, de même que l’état et la configuration des six énormes chaînes qui maintenaient la bouée en position.

Les plongées d’inspection sur le fond, réservaient parfois quelques surprises car la visibilité y était souvent très limitée et dès lors, il était assez fréquent de se faire mordiller les doigts par quelques petites murènes qui se vengeaient d’être dérangée par nos inspections tactiles.

Un autre problème de visibilité que nous rencontrions parfois sur le champ, mais en surface cette fois était du à l’harmattan.

Celui-ci était un vent chaud et poussiéreux qui provenait du Sahara et qui durant plusieurs jours de suite pouvait obscurcir l’atmosphère.

Le 2 février 94, nous étions partis depuis le matin pour aller faire les entretiens sur la bouée KLB2 qui se trouvait à environ 20 minutes de zodiac de notre tanker tampon.

La visibilité n’était pas terrible, mais elle était largement suffisante pour repérer la bouée à mi chemin.

La matinée passa relativement vite et comme midi approchait, je décidai d’arrêter les travaux et de rentrer dîner.

Très vite pourtant, nous nous rendons compte que l’atmosphère est devenue extrêmement chargée et on n’y voit plus à 50 m.

Qu’à cela ne tienne, le SEREPCA est assez grand et on ne peut pas le raté.

Donc full speed et cap au Nord.

Une vingtaine de minutes plus tard, tout le monde est aux aguets et scrute l’horizon afin de détecter la masse du tanker, mais rien en vue, juste cette sorte d’épais brouillard qui nous empêche de voir quoi que ce soit.

Normalement, nous ne devrions pas être loin pensais-je car nous avions navigué à peu près à la même vitesse et durant la même période de temps qu’à l’aller.

Donc je demandai au plongeur pilote de bien vouloir mettre le cap au NNE à petite vitesse pendant une minute.

Rien, pas le moindre bateau.

Idem au NNO, crottes  de bique, toujours rien.

Bon les gars on va stopper ici dis-je, pas la peine de risquer de s’éloigner plus.

Je vais appeler le bateau et demander qu’ils actionnent la corne de brume ainsi nous saurons nous diriger au son.


SEREPCA, SEREPCA, SEREPCA : zodiac plongeur !


SEREPCA, SEREPCA, SEREPCA : zodiac plongeur !


SEREPCA, SEREPCA, SEREPCA : zodiac plongeur !


Rien aucune réponse du tanker.

Je regardai ma montre. 12h10, pas la peine d’insister, ils sont sans doute tous à table.

Que faire, nous n’allions tout de même pas attendre qu’ils aient terminé la sieste pour les rappeler.

En principe, notre supply d’assistance le « Cristal fish » devait être quelque part sur le champ et dès lors, je me décidai à l’appeler.

Un seul appel suffit pour avoir le radio en ligne.

Immédiatement, je lui demandai de bien vouloir me passer son supérieur.

Deux minutes plus tard celui-ci arriva à la radio.

Bonjour Commandant ici Francis.

Dites, nous avons un petit problème, nous sommes égaré.

Est-ce que vous vous trouvez à proximité du SEREPCA ?

Non, nous sommes à coté de la BOS.

Ah merde, donc pas la peine de faire sonner la corne, car même si on l’entendait, cela ne nous entraînerait pas dans la bonne direction.

Aussitôt je demandai :

Est-ce que vous pouvez essayer de nous repérer sur le radar ?

OK une minute, je regarde.

Non je ne vois rien à l’écran, faites un 360 ° à faible vitesse pour voir.

Sorry toujours rien.

Cela devenait gênant, évidemment nous avions assez d’essence pour rejoindre la terre qui devait se trouvait à environ deux heures de route, mais nous aurions pu accoster n’importe où avec les risques que cela comporte.

Pendant que je réfléchissais comme me dépêtrer de ce merdier, une idée me vint.

Pendant mon séjour chez les plongeurs démineurs quelques décennies plus tôt, nous avions sur nos embarcations de plongée un déflecteur qui permettait au radariste de nous emmener sur les contacts suspects.

Donc, ici, pourquoi ne pas faire la même chose.

Problème, nous n’avions pas de déflecteur dans notre canot.

Pas de déflecteur, ok, mais nous pouvions peut-être en fabriquer un ?

Nous avions déjà deux pagaies qui pouvaient servir de mats.

Restait à trouver de quoi faire le déflecteur.

Avons-nous des fumeurs à bord ?

Ouf, oui, Hervé et Eke.

Bon désolé les gars, pouvez-vous vider vos paquets de cigarettes et me donner les emballages.

Rapidement ils s’exécutèrent mais me regardèrent bizarrement lorsque je déchirai les paquets et les retournai de manière à avoir l’aluminium à l’extérieur.

J’avais maintenant le matériau réfléchissant.

Ne restait plus qu’à trouver un support et quoi de mieux que mon petit sac à dos.

Très rapidement  l’aluminium fut scotché sur mon sac, puis ce dernier monté sur les pagaies.

Ca y est, nous avions un semblant de déflecteur.

Je rappelai le Cristal Fish.

Commandant, nous avons fabriquer un déflecteur, pouvez-vous regarder si vous avez un contact ?

Allez y zodiac, mettez en route lentement.

Lentement, notre bateau se mit en route. Pourvu que cela marche pensais-je.

Quelques secondes plus tard, nouvel appel radio.

Zodiac : Cristal fish.

Ca y est, je vous ai repéré vous êtes à un demi mille de votre destination.

Partez au cap 105 je reste en contact et vous guide.

10 minutes plus tard, notre tanker était en vue.

Aussitôt je remerciai le tonton du supply de son assistance.

Une fois a bord, je vis que le Commandant avait sa tête des mauvais jours.

Il nous dit froidement.

Messieurs, la prochaine fois ayez la politesse de bien vouloir arriver à l’heure à table.

Ah ça, il ne manque pas de toupet celui-la pensais-je sans faire de commentaire.

A part ce petit incident, rien d’autre de particulier ne m’arriva au cours des quatre rotations que je fis sur ce bateau.

Le travail me plaisait assez mais il n’y avait pas assez de  plongée à mon goût.

De plus, mon « petit » qui avait maintenant 24 ans et que je n’avais pas toujours vu grandir, avait quitté le nid familial.

 Ma douce moitié elle supportait de moins en moins mes séjours à l’étranger et me supplia d’arrêter.

Résultat, en ce triste jour du 19 août 94 je me résignai à donner ma démission à cette entreprise où j’avais eu l’occasion de vivre une extraordinaire aventure pendant environ 16 années.

La suite de ma carrière professionnelle un peu moins palpitante, continua par un incident de parcours durant lequel on tenta durant neuf mois de m’initier à certaines pratiques auxquelles je n’adhérais pas.

Après m’être encouru de là, je repris contact avec le fils de mon premier employeur qui avait à son tour repris les affaires de son père, et fut tout heureux de m’embaucher.

Aujourd’hui, je suis toujours dans le métier, mais conformément aux prédictions que m’avait faites un marin Indien en 1983 je passe maintenant une bonne partie de mon temps au bureau où je suis choyé par la gent féminine qui y travaille.

Papy One

Conclusion : Vive la Marine.


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30 juillet 2015 4 30 /07 /juillet /2015 19:08
A little story of a saturation dive

Year of our Lord 1981.

It is now a few days that I’m aboard the DSV Tarasco who is currently working in the Gulf of the Mexico.

Marseille operations service has sent me here because apart my offshore work that I started again a few months ago, I also have a lot of experience in civil engineering which means thousands of diving hours without visibility and as I’ve heard that’s what the company is looking for because HERE in the GOM they say that the "vis" is very bad.

For several months now, the diving operations merely consists to realize hyperbaric welding pipeline connections and therefore during this first week on board I pass a lot of hours in the welding chamber to study all the type of gear and equipment I’m going to use underwater.

We are now a few days later and the Superintendent informs me that I am part of the team that has to enter in saturation at night.

Indeed, a new connection of two 36” pipelines that had recently been laid on the bottom by a lay barge has to be done.

The 'Sat' entry is expected around 22:00 and for the start of this new operation, only 9 divers will be compressed.

A little story of a saturation dive

The diving system of our DSV consists of three 2000 diam. deck compression chambers connected to a wet pot. Each chamber has four bunks but for comfort reasons the divers will be divided into them by teams of 3.

As we still have a few hours to go before the pressurization, each of us bustles to prepare his bunk with fresh sheets and bring the personal effects that will be needed during the stay.

Live at 3 people inside 2 meters diameter chamber is not very comfortable even more if we remove the 30 cm from the floor, it really leaves very little room, especially for the one who has to sleep on the top bunk. Generally it is the thinnest diver of the team that is sacrificed and designated to sleep at the top, although that some teams choose to make a rotation.

22 hours approach, after a final briefing with the superintendent we all go to the LST control room where some will take the opportunity to smoke a last cigarette. It’s time to enter our respective chambers. At the entrance the chamber operators make a last control to check our pockets to ensure that nobody carry illegal or hazardous products such as: cigarettes, matches, lighter, or alcohol. Sex magazines are of course allowed.

There it is, one of the life support technician starts the regeneration system and after having closed the door begins to compress the chambers with air up to the depth of 10 meters. This first part of the compression is designed to raise the partial pressure of oxygen to 420 mb. Then the diving system is pressurized with pure helium to the storage depth which for us today will be at 30 meters.

During the compression, the soda lime filter fan is switched on to help the mixing of ambient gases, but as this is not enough, we are asked to stir the atmosphere with our towels. As the storage depth is not deep, the compression speed can be done at about 1 m / min. which allow us to be at depth within 30 minutes.

It is now 23:00, and the supervisor is already calling us for a first dive.

The No. 1 chamber to which I belong has randomly been selected to do this dive and I am designated to be the diver one. My mate Laurent will be diver two and Samo will be our bellman.

The diver’s one role is to lead the dive. He is the one who speaks with the supervisor on the manner to do this or that and how it can be done.

The diver two is there to attend the diver one and he generally takes no decision on how to the conduct the operations. He also return to the diving bell in the middle of the dive and is then replaced by the bellman.

The bellman is the diver who stays in the bell to assist and monitor the divers. While Samo passes inside the bell to make the pre dive checklist Laurent and I go to wet pot to dress ourselves with our hot water suits and safety harness. Meanwhile, the supervisor reminds us via the intercom the purpose of our mission for this night dive:

- Search and localize the first 36 "pipeline.

- Mark it up.

- Align the pipeline along its final position.

The checklist is now completed and the bellman informs us that we can pass into the bell. Once inside, we settle on the tiny seats so that Samo can close the lateral door of the bell.

- Bellman: Surface door closed.

- Surf: Ok bellman I call someone from the chamber to come and close the other side.

Once the second door closed, the trunking located between the wet pot and the bell is depressurized and the bell is disconnected from the living chambers.

The surface team at their turn closes the outside lateral door and brings the bell over the moon pool where they still connect the guide cables.

The descent can begin.

During the descent, Samo monitors the pressure gauge of the side door to verify if the tightness is good. He also announced the depth every ten meters until the bottom door is slightly pushed open by the hydrostatic pressure and lets a little flush of water in.

- Bellman: Surface door open stop the bell

The diving bell is stopped and our bellman fully opens the bottom door, then by using the pressurization valve he lowers the water and at the same time asks to resume the descend until the bell comes at 4 to 5 m from the bottom. The different gas and hot water supply circuits are opened and Samo can now assist me to equip myself.

First connecting the hot water hose... Ah! I appreciate the arrival of this hot water at 35 ° c. It must be said that I began to really get chilly in this atmosphere of heliox.

- Me: OK Samo, you can put my KMB 17 on.

Once done I quickly test my gas supplies with the freeflow and the auxiliary non-return valves.

On the surface, the supervisor has connected me on a 12/88 heliox mixture so I dive with a PPO² between 400 and 800 mb.

- Me: HEUH! SAMO do not forget to put the locking pin in the neck clamp because I don’t want to lose my helmet as it arrived to some poor divers.

OK, that's good.

- Me: Surface, how do you read me?

- Surface: 5 on 5 diver one (D1).

- D 1: Ok, I'm ready to go; can you tell me on what side I am supposed to find the pipe?

- Surface: in principle at about 09:00 O’clock.

- D 1: Ok I’ll go out.

I slowly let myself go through the small bottom trunking and I find myself in the water.

- D 1: AAH! AAH! surfaaace ! What is this bullshit?

- Surf: Oh! What happens why do you scream like that?

- D 1: AAH! AAH! My eyes! I'm too much dazzled, they told me that here there was no visibility and I have at least 30 m to the level of the bell AAH!

- Surf: Francis stop making the fool and go to work.

- D 1: OK chief.

I let myself fall on the bottom and I start to move slowly towards the 9: 00 O’clock direction. While I walk on the bottom, I realize that the visibility decreases rapidly because of my movements on this muddy soil but nothing catastrophic as I still can see at 3 meters.

Ah! These French divers, it would do them good to come to our small Belgium and follow a diving course in our dark waters.

- D 1: Surface, can you ask the bellman if I still go in the right direction?

- Surf: Bellman… is the diver going to the right direction?

- Bellman: affirmative.

- Surf: OK for the direction Diver.

- D 1: Ok I continue.

A few moments later:

- Bellman: Surface... can you tell the diver that he is at the end of his umbilical.

- Surf: Diver you are at the end of your umbilical.

- D 1: Ok... I’ve found nothing... Say to the bellman to hold my umbilical tight because I'll start a circular.

- Surf: OK Diver.

- Bellman: Ok surface I keep it tight.

As I don’t think to be Cuckold as some other divers are, I suspected well that I would not find the pipe immediately. Slowly I begin to turn around the bell well taking care at my 50 m umbilical. Then after a certain time (time that takes the barrel of the gun to cool down) I see a dark mass appear in my field of vision. Here it is.

- D 1: Surface... that's it, I found the pipe.

- Surf: Bellman... can you tell me the direction of the diver’s umbilical?

- Bellman: 3:00 O’clock.

- Surf: Diver the pipe is at 3:00 O’clock.

- D 1: That’s what I suspected, you surely read your plan upside down.

- Surf: §; %,? O(( .. Diver can you give me the silting up of the pipe?

- D 1: Yes... silted up to half.

On the surface, the supervisor informs the project manager of the situation. He decides to move the boat.

- Surf: Diver... we are going to move the boat some 20 m towards the pipe.

- D1: Ok, tell the bellman to slowly recover my umbilical during the displacement.

- Surf: Bellman... we are going to move the boat towards 3: 00 O clock, you pick up the umbilical when needed.

- Bellman: understand will pick it up.

On the surface, the Chief informs the bridge that they can move the boat for 20 meters to starboard. As it is a dynamically positioned vessel, the officer in charge enters the data into the computer, and starts the maneuver.

On the bottom of the ocean, I hear that the thrusters are beginning to turn more regularly while that at the same time I can feel that Samo resumes my umbilical. After a few minutes the surface calls me:

- Surf: Ok Diver we have done 20 m.

- D 1: Ok well received.

- Surf: Francis, we are going to send you the basket with the pinger in it.

- D 1: Ok, did you install a strobe light on the basket?

- Surf: affirmative and there are also a few fluo light sticks on it.

- Surf: Ok diver, the basket comes down.

- D1: Coming down.

I put myself on the pipe and look towards the surface. After a few moments, I begin to see the flashes of the strobe in the middle of a green halo light, that's it here is the basket.

- D 1: Surface, I see the basket... ok continue to descend slowly. OK stop! Basket on the bottom.

- Surf: Stop! Basket on the bottom.

I go to the basket and take the pinger.

- D 1: Ok surface you can pick up the basket.

- Surf: Received.

- Surf: Francis, can you now move along the pipe with the pinger so that we can plot its exact position.

- D 1: Ok surface, I begin to walk along the pipe.

A little story of a saturation dive

While I move, the pinger sends an acoustical signal every second which is picked up on the surface and plotted on a chart.

I move along the pipe for about 300 m and from time to time ask to displace the boat so that I’ve not to work at the end of my umbilical.

While I’m walking on the bottom, my two colleagues gently discuss in the bell. But due to their breathe, their metabolisms will consume approximately 30 liters of oxygen per hour and produce about the same amount of CO². For the CO², no problem the bell is equipped with a scrubber that contains soda lime, a CO² absorbent but for the oxygen all the parameters are monitored by the surface and now the supervisor has noticed that the PPO² in the bell decreases, where his reaction:

- Surf: Bellman you make two additions of oxygen.

- Bellman: Ok two additions.

At the bridge, the superintendent realizes that the trace of my survey does not match with the final position the pipeline should have. It is located approximately 45 m out of his theoretical axis, result it will be necessary to slide the pipe.

- Surf: diver.

- D 1: Yes I listen

- Surf: Ok, we have to slide the pipe some 40 m to port over a distance of 300 m.

- To make the pipe lighter we are going to send you 10 T parachutes that you will fix every 30 m starting from the beginning.

- D 1: Ok well received, but as the pipe is half buried, I’ll need the Galleazzi and a needle to pull the slings under the pipe.

- Surf: Ok well received, we send you the water lance with the basket together with a first parachute.

- D 1: Ok understood, can you ask to diver two to prepare.

- Surf: Laurent, you can prepare yourself to help Francis to install the 10 T parachutes.

- D 2: Ok, I dress up.

In the meantime the basket is back at the bottom, I put the pinger back in it and recover the galleazzi water lance and the needle and I go to the place where I have to dig my first hole. There at some 5 meters from the pulling head I start to make a hole in the mud in order to facilitate the passage of my needle (rebar shaped at the diameter of the pipe) under the pipeline.

Once the lifting sling is in place and tight around the pipe I leave the place and move some 30 meters further to start the digging of the next hole and let Laurent fix the parachute and fill it by using the inflation line coming from the surface.

A little story of a saturation dive

During the four next hours, Laurent and I install the series of parachutes on the pipeline.

- D1: Ok surface all parachutes are in place and filled up.

- Surf: Ok divers we will now return at the beginning of the pipe with the boat and once in position we will let down the lifting cables from the three davits.

- D 1: Ok well understood.

While the DSV moves back to the pulling head we are on stand-by on the counterweight of the bell. I take advantage of that movement to go for a quick drink.

20 minutes later, the boat is in position.

- Surf: Ok divers boat is in place, we will start to descend the davit number one cable.

- D 1: Ok you come down on number one.

The three spaced cables are attached to the pipe in the same manner as the parachutes slings. An hour later:

- D 1: Ok surface all the davit cables are installed.

- Surf: Ok Divers we are going to slowly heave the pipe to the surface. In the meantime Laurent you will change with Samo and you Francis put yourself at shelter under the bell.

- D2: Ok I return to the bell pick up diver’s slack.

- D1: Ok I go under the bell.

- Surf: Bellman, Laurent comes back to the bell to change with you.

- Bellman: Roger.

A little story of a saturation dive

The pipe is now slowly brought to the surface with the 3 davits. This lift allows the pipeline to have a correct bending up to the touch down point, thus preventing it from breaking.

- Surf: Ok divers, the pipe is at the surface, we will start the shifting.

- D 1: Well received, we stay away.

The boat now moves laterally with 5 meters steps and this until the pipe is in the planned axis. It is now Samo who has joint me on the counterweight until the end of the displacement maneuver.

- Surf: Divers Ok, the pipe is in the axis, we start to bring it down.

- D 1: Ok surface coming down.

A few minutes later the pipe appears over our heads.

- D 1: Surface, I see the pipe it is at about 10 meters from the bottom you can continue to come down.

- Surf: Ok diver one I warn you as soon as we have no more tension on the cables.

- D 1: Ok.

Slowly the pipe sets down on the bottom but because of the surface sea state the pitching and the rolling of the boat is transmitted on the tube which rolls a bit around. Result: a cloud of silt is lifted and rapidly the visibility is reduced to nil.

- Surf: Ok divers, the pipe is laid back and there is slack in the cables. Francis you disconnect the davits and you Samo you start to deflate and recover the parachutes.

- D 1: Ok I do the davits.

- D 2: Ok I deflate the 10Ts.

Here we go again and this work will take us 2 more hours. Then finally I can announce:

- D 1: Ok surface the pipe is clear.

- Surf: Perfect guys you may return to the bell, dive completed.

As it is a little over 9 hours that I am in water, Samo proposes me to enter first. Thing that I accept gladly, "thank you Samo". But just before entering he taps me on the shoulder and makes me sign to watch in a given direction.

OOOUAHHH! Look at that. A bunch of small sharks are turning around the diving bell, there are at least a dozen of them.

- D1: Surface... we’re surrounded by small sharks... it is super nice to see.

- Surf: what! And you have not seen them on the bottom?

- D1: Well no, visibility was bad since the displacement of the pipe.

- Surf: Are they great?

- D1: No, they don’t go over a one fifty meter.

- Surf: It’s ok now we have no time to lose looking at little fishes. Enter the bell before that they eat up your ass.

I get through the hatch and to facilitate my entry Laurent opens the lower valve of the Swan neck which allows the water to rise some 0.4 m more in the bell.

As soon as I have my KMB 17 out of the water, I struggle due to fatigue to keep my head straight. I look a bit like David Niven in the brain and Laurent is obliged to straighten my head to be able to remove the helmet.

Whew! It’s done, I feel better.

A little story of a saturation dive

Once all my gear removed I give a hand to the bellman to tidy up the material before letting the diver two in.

OK, Samo at his turn is in the bell.

- Bellman: OOUAHH! SAMO LOOK: what happened to your fin?

- SAMO: Oh shit what is that?

In fact, the buckle of his left fin has disappeared to the level of the foot and from what’s left on it we can clearly see that it was ripped off by a beast that had some good teeth like a shark or big moray eel.

- Me: And you have felt nothing?

- SAMO: Well yes I felt something, but I thought that I had hanged something.

- Me: Well my friend for the same price you could have lost a few toes. So you see that what they told us on the surface «If you do not see the shark, he can't see you either» is just bullshit.

A few minutes later everything is tidy and all the unnecessary valves are close. The bellman chases the excess of water via the pressurization valve. He then inspects the gasket of the bottom door and finally closes it. Still a little blow of pressure to ensure the good sealing of the door and we are ready to go.

- Bellman: Ok surface door sealed you may pick up the bell.

- Surf: Ok coming up.

While the bell rises to the surface, we discuss everything and anything and of course about the fin. The bell is now at the surface, and we have to wait a few minutes more to be reconnected to the system.

Finally we hear the equalizing noise in the trunking and:

- Bellman: Ok surface, door open.

- Surf: Ok guys have a good night and thank you.

- Divers: Ok chief we hear you tomorrow.

Each in turn we slide through the small tube that brings us in the wet pot.

There the next bellman is already waiting to enter the bell to make the checklist.

At the microphone, Serge the chamber operator is giving us the menu.

- "Ok guys, today you have the choice between poo on crap or shit on poo."

I will take the first dish, anyway crap or not, food has anyway not much taste in saturation. But still a few days to go and maybe we will be entitled to something better because the catering just got fired.

While Samo and Laurent are discussing with the two following divers, I take the opportunity to take a nice hot shower, because I find that it's a little chilly in our chamber. It is true that 30 ° c in a heliox atmosphere is a bit low.

It now remains to take our meal and then jump in our bunks for a long sleep since we will be quiet for the next 15 hours.

Papy One

Photos and diving Art taken from internet.

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29 juillet 2015 3 29 /07 /juillet /2015 19:24

La collègue que j'aurais aimé avoir.

An de grâce 1981.

Cela fait maintenant quelques jours que je suis arrivé à bord du DSV Tarasco qui travaille actuellement dans le golfe du Mexique.

Le service des opérations de Marseille m’a envoyé ici parce que hormis les travaux offshore, j’ai également une grande expérience de plongée en travaux publics en Belgique, ce qui signifie plusieurs milliers d’heures de plongée sans visibilité, et parait-il c’est cela qui est recherché au Mexique car ici la « visi »  est très mauvaise.

Pendant toute cette semaine passée sur le pont j’ai eu l’occasion de m’imprégner de l’ambiance qui règne à bord de la barge, mais je me suis également efforcé d’étudier le type de matériel et équipement qui est mis en œuvre sur le chantier.

Depuis plusieurs mois, les opérations de plongée, consistent principalement  à réaliser des connections de pipeline par soudure hyperbare et c’est une nouvelle opération de ce type qui va commencer cette nuit.

En effet, nous allons procéder au raccordement de deux pipelines de 36” qui ont été récemment posés sur le fond par une Lay barge.

Notre support naval dispose d’une tourelle de plongée et d’un ensemble de saturation composé de 3 caissons de 2 mètres de diamètre disposés en étoile autour d’un caisson humide.

L’ensemble des caissons se trouve sous le pont principal et la tourelle accède à la mer via le moon pool central du bateau.

L’entrée en « sat » de l’équipe, est prévue vers 22h00 et pour le début de l’opération, seul 9 plongeurs seront comprimés.


Chaque caisson comporte 4 bannettes, mais pour des raisons de confort les  plongeurs seront répartis dans les 3 caissons par équipes de 3.

Comme nous disposons encore de quelques heures avant la mise en pression, chacun s’active à préparer sa couchette avec des draps frais et à amener les effets personnels dont il aura besoin pendant son séjour.

Vivre à 3 dans une enceinte de 2 mètres de diamètre, n’est pas très confortable surtout si l’on enlève encore les 30 centimètres du plancher, cela laisse vraiment très peu de place, surtout pour celui qui doit dormir sur le lit du haut.

Généralement c’est le plus mince de l’équipe qui est sacrifié et désigné d’office pour dormir en haut, bien que certaines équipes choisissent de faire un roulement.

22 heures approche, après un dernier briefing avec le conducteur de travaux, nous nous rendons dans le control room des caissons masters où certains en profiteront pour griller une dernière clope.

Avant d’entrer dans nos caissons respectifs, les caissons masters vérifient une dernière fois nos poches à fin de s’assurer que personne n’amène de produits illicites ou dangereux tels que : cigarettes, allumettes, briquet, ou alcool. Les bouquins de culs sont bien entendu autorisés.

Cette fois ça y est, le caisson master met le système de régénération en route, et après avoir fermer la porte, les caissons sont comprimés à l’air jusqu’à la profondeur de 10 mètres.

Cette première partie de la compression a pour but de faire monter la pression partielle d’oxygène à  420 mb.

Ensuite les caissons sont comprimés avec de l'hélium pur jusqu’à la profondeur du niveau vie qui se situe généralement 10 mètres plus haut que la profondeur de travail.

Comme le fond de la mer où nous allons opérer est de 40 mètres, le niveau vie dans les caissons sera de 30 mètres.

Durant la compression, le ventilateur du filtre de chaux sodée est mis en route pour favoriser le mélange des gaz ambiants, mais comme cela ne suffit pas, nous sommes priés de brasser les gaz à l’aide de nos serviettes de bain.

Etant donné que le niveau vie n’est pas profond, la vitesse de compression peut être d’environ 1 m / min. ce qui fait que nous atteignons le niveau vie en 30 minutes.

A 23 h 00, le chef de poste nous  appelle déjà  pour réaliser une première plongée.

Le caisson n° 1 dont je fais partie est tiré au sort.

Je suis désigné comme étant le plongeur n° 1, Laurent est plongeur n° 2 tandis que Samo la moustache est désigné comme bellman.

Le rôle du plongeur n° 1 consiste à diriger toute la plongée, c’est lui qui discute avec le chef de poste sur la manière de faire tel ou telle chose.

Le plongeur n° 2 est là pour assister le plongeur n° 1 et il ne prend généralement pas de décision quant au déroulement des opérations.

En milieu de plongée, le plongeur n° 2 rentre à la tourelle et se fait alors remplacer par le bellman.

Le bellman est le plongeur désigné pour rester dans la tourelle à fin d’aider et de surveiller les plongeurs.

Pendant que Samo passe dans la tourelle pour faire la check-list avant plongée, Laurent et moi passons dans le wet pot (caisson humide) pour mettre nos vêtements à eau chaude et nos harnais de sécurité.

Pendant ce temps, Marcel le chef de chantier, nous rappelle via l’interphone quelle sera notre mission pour cette plongée de nuit : recherche du premier pipeline de 36 ” / balisage / alignement du pipeline le long de son tracé final.

Une fois la check-list terminée, Samo nous informe que nous pouvons à notre tour passer  dans la tourelle.

Après que nous nous sommes installés sur les minuscules sièges, le bellman ferme la porte latérale de la tourelle et en informe de chef de poste, qui à son tour demande alors à l’un des plongeurs au repos de venir fermer la porte du caisson humide.

Le sas intermédiaire situé entre le wet pot et la tourelle est alors décomprimé et la tourelle déconnectée de l’ensemble vie.

En surface, l’équipe d’assistance renferme la porte latérale extérieure de la tourelle et assure la translation de celle-ci jusqu’au moon pool.

Après avoir connecté les 2 câbles guides, la tourelle est ensuite descendue le long de ceux-ci.

Durant la descente, Samo surveille le manomètre de pression de la porte latérale à fin de vérifier que l’étanchéité de la porte latérale est bonne.

Il annonce aussi la profondeur tous les 10 mètres et ce  jusqu’à ce que la porte inférieure s’ouvre légèrement à cause de la pression hydrostatique et laisse passer un peu d’eau.

La tourelle est alors stoppée et notre bellman ouvre entièrement la porte inférieure, ensuite il chasse l’eau à l’aide de la vanne de pressurisation et refait alors descendre doucement la tourelle jusqu’à 4 à 5 m du fond.

Les différents circuits d’alimentation en gaz et en eau chaude sont ouverts, et Samo peut maintenant me donner un coup de main pour m’équiper.

D’abord brancher le flexible d’eau chaude.Ah!que cela fait du bien cette arrivée d’eau chaude à 35°.

Il faut dire que je commençais à vachement me refroidir dans cette atmosphère d’héliox.

Ok Samo, maintenant tu peux me mettre le KMB 17.

Voilà qui est fait.

Je teste rapidement mon arrivée de gaz au niveau du free-flow ainsi que par la vanne du biberon secours.

En surface, le chef de poste m’a branché sur un mélange héliox de 12/88 de manière à ce que je plonge avec une PPO²  comprise entre 400 et 800 mb.

Euh !! Samo n’oublie pas de me mettre la goupille de sécurité car je n’ai pas envie de perdre mon casque comme certains malheureux plongeurs.

OK , c’est bon.

Moi : Allo surface, est-ce que tu me reçois ?

Surf : 5 sur 5 plongeur 1.

Pl 1 : Ok, je suis prêt à sortir, tu peux me dire de quel coté je suis sensé trouver le pipe ?

Surf : En principe vers 9 h.

Pl 1 : Ok je sors et je pars vers 9 h.

Surf : Ok tu pars vers 9 h.

Je me laisse doucement descendre au travers du hub de 80 cm, et je me retrouve dans l’eau.

Pl 1 : AAH !! AAH ! surfaaace qu’est-ce que c’est cette connerie ?

Surf : Qu’est-ce qui se passe pourquoi tu gueules comme ça ?

Pl 1 : AAH !! AAH !!  mes yeux !!! je suis trop ébloui, on m’avait dit qu’ici il n’y avait pas de visi et  j’ai au moins 30 m au niveau de la tourelle AAH !!

Surf : Francis arrête de faire le mariole et va travailler.

Pl 1 : Bien chef.

Bon, je me laisse tomber sur le fond et je commence à me déplacer doucement vers 9h tout en surveillant la direction de mon narghilé.

Pendant que je me déplace sur le fond vaseux, je me rends compte que la visibilité diminue rapidement à cause de mes mouvements dans la vase, mais rien de catastrophique puisque je vois au moins encore à 3 mètres.

Ah ! c’est sacré français tout de même, ils feraient bien de venir faire un petit stage de plongée chez les belges à l'IFPME.

Pl 1 : Surface, tu peux demander au bellman si je vais toujours dans la bonne direction ?

Surf : Bellman ... est-ce que le plongeur va toujours dans la bonne direction ?

Bellman : Affirmatif.

Surf : Affirmatif plongeur.

Pl 1 : Ok je continue.

Quelques instants plus tard.

Bellman : Surface ... tu peux dire au plongeur qu’il est en bout de narghilé.

Surf : Plongeur tu es en bout de narghilé.

Pl 1 : Ok ... je n’ai rien trouvé ... Dis au bellman de tenir le narghilé tendu car je vais faire une circulaire.

Surf : Ok plongeur.

Bellman : Ok surface je tiens le narghilé tendu.

Comme je ne pense pas être cocu comme certain, je m’en doutais bien que je n’aurais pas trouvé le pipe directement.

Je commence à tourner lentement autour de la tourelle en prenant bien garde de tendre mon narghilé de 50 m.

Au bout d’un certain temps (temps que met le fût du canon pour se refroidir) je vois apparaître une masse sombre dans mon champ de vision.

Ca y est, cette fois je le tiens.

Pl 1 : Surface .... ça y est, j’ai trouvé le pipe.

Surf : Bellman .. tu peux me dire vers quelle heure part le narghilé ??

Bellman : 3 h.

Surf : plongeur le pipe est à 3 h.

Pl 1 : Je m’en doutais, tu as sûrement lu ton plan à l’envers.

Surf : § ;%, ?O(( .. Plongeur tu peux me donner l’envasement du pipe ?

Pl 1 : Oui ... envasé jusqu’à la moitié.

En surface, le chef d'équipe informe le COH de la situation.

Celui-ci décide de faire bouger le bateau.

Surf : Plongeur .... on va déplacer le bateau  vers le pipe de 20 m.

Pl 1 : Ok , dis au bellman de reprendre mon narghilé au fur à mesure du déplacement.

Surf : Bellman... on va déplacer le bateau vers 3 h ... tu reprends doucement le narghilé.

Bellman : bien compris je reprends le narghilé.

En surface, le chef de poste informe la passerelle qu'on peut déplacer le bateau de 20 m vers tribord.

Comme il s’agit d’un bateau à positionnement dynamique, l’officier de quart entre les données dans l’ordinateur, et démarre la manœuvre.

Sur le fond de l’océan, j’entends que les thrusters commencent à tourner plus régulièrement tandis qu’en même temps je sens que Samo reprend le narghilé.

Au bout de quelques minutes la surface m'appelle :

Surf : Ok plongeur on a fait les 20 m.

Pl 1 : Ok bien reçu

Surf : Francis, on va te faire descendre le panier avec une balise.

Pl 1 : Ok , est-ce qu’il y a une luciole sur le panier ???

Surf : Affirmatif.

En surface, l’équipe de pont a préparé le panier de travail avec un pinger et attend l’ordre de le descendre.

Surf : Ok plongeur, le panier descend.

Pl 1 : Bien reçu.

Je me mets sur le pipe et je scrute dans la direction où doit arriver le panier.

Au bout de quelques instants, je commence à apercevoir des flashs et un halo de lumière verte, ça y est, voici le panier.

Pl 1 : Surface, je vois le panier ... ok continue à descendre doucement. ok stop! panier sur le fond.

Surf : Stop ! panier sur le fond.

Je me rends vers le panier et je retire le pinger.

Pl 1 : Ok surface tu peux faire remonter le panier.

Surf : Ok reçu.

Surf : Francis, tu vas te déplacer le long du pipe avec le pinger comme cela on pourra connaître son orientation exacte.

Pl 1 : Ok surface, je commence à me déplacer le long du pipe.

Pendant que je me déplace, le pinger envoie un signal qui est capté en surface et reporté sur la carte.

Je me déplace ainsi sur environ 300 m tout en faisant doucement déplacer le bateau de manière à ce que je ne travaille pas en bout de narghilé.

Pendant que je me déhale ainsi sur le fond, depuis environ 1h30, Samo et Laurent continuent à respirer dans la tourelle, chaque métabolisme va consommer environ 30 litres d’oxygène par heure et produire environ la même quantité de CO².

Pour le CO² , pas de problème la tourelle est équipée du scrubber (filtre à chaux sodé) mais en surface, le chef de poste s’aperçoit que le PPO² diminue, d’où sa réaction.

Surf : Bellman tu fais 2 rajouts d’oxygène.

Bellman : Ok 2 rajouts.

A  la passerelle, le conducteur de travaux se rend compte que le tracé de mon survey ne correspond pas à l’emplacement final que doit avoir le pipeline.

Celui-ci se trouve à environ 45 m de son axe théorique, résultat il va valoir riper  le pipe.

Il en informe le chef de chantier qui à son tour avertit le chef de poste.

Surf : Plongeur.

Pl 1 : Oui j’écoute

Surf : Ok, il va falloir riper le pipe de 40 m vers bâbord sur une distance de 300 m.

Pour alléger le pipe, on va te descendre des parachutes de 10 T que tu fixeras tous les 30 m en partant de l’extrémité.

Pl 1 : Ok bien reçu, mais comme le pipe est envasé, il me faudra la galléazzi et une aiguille pour passer le élingues sous le pipe.

Surf : Ok bien reçu, on te mettra la galléazzi à coulisser sur le câble du panier en même temps qu’un premier parachute.

Pl 1 : Ok bien reçu, et tu peux demander à Laurent de se préparer.

Surf : Laurent, tu peux te préparer pour donner un coup de main à Francis pour installer les parachutes.

Pl 2 : Ok, je m’équipe.

Entre-temps, le panier est arrivé au fond, j'y remets le pinger, je récupère la lance galléazzi et je me rends en début de pipe à environ 5 m de la tête de traction.

Là, je commence à faire un trou dans la vase de manière à pouvoir passer mon épingle (fer à béton cintré au diamètre du pipe) plus facilement sous le pipeline.

Dès que la sangle est en place, le plongeur 2 fixe le parachute et le gonfle à l’aide de la ligne de gonflage qui nous arrive de la surface.

Pendant les 4 heures qui suivent, Laurent et moi installons la série de parachutes le long du pipeline.

Pl1 : Ok surface tous les parachutes sont en place et gonflés.

Surf : Ok on va maintenant retourner au début de la ligne avec le bateau et on va descendre les câbles des 3 daviers de relevage.

Pl 1 : Ok bien compris.

Pendant que le bateau se déplace à nouveau vers l’origine du pipeline nous nous mettons en stand by sur les contrepoids de la tourelle.

J’en profite également pour boire un coup.

20 minutes plus tard, le bateau est en position.

Surf : Ok plongeurs le bateau est en place, on va commencer à faire descendre le câble du davier numéro 1.

Pl 1 : Ok on descend le numéro 1

Les trois câbles espacés d’une quinzaine de mètres sont ainsi élingués au pipe de la même manière que les sangles des parachutes.

Une heure plus tard.

Pl 1 : Ok surface les câbles de davier sont installés.

Surf : Ok plongeurs  allez vous mettre à l’abri sous la tourelle, on va remonter doucement le pipe jusqu'en surface.

Pl 1 : Ok reçu

Surf : Plongeur 2 tu va rentrer à la tourelle pour changer avec Samo.

Pl 2 : Ok je rentre à la tourelle.

Surf : Bellman, Laurent rentre pour changer avec toi.

Bellman : Bien reçu on change.

Pendant ce temps, le pipe est  remonté lentement en surface à l'aide des 3 daviers.

Cette remontée permet au pipeline d'avoir un angle correct jusqu'à l'endroit du touch down, ce qui lui évite de se casser.

Surf : Ok plongeurs, le pipe est en surface, on va commencer le ripage.

Pl 1 : Bien reçu, on reste à l'abri.

Le bateau se déplace maintenant latéralement par pas de 5 mètres et ce jusqu'à ce que le pipe se trouve dans l'axe prévu.

C'est maintenant Samo qui me rejoint sur les contrepoids en attendant la fin de la manœuvre de déplacement.

Surf : Ok plongeurs, le pipe est dans l'axe, on va commencer à le faire descendre.

Pl 1 : Bien reçu.

Quelques minutes plus tard le pipe apparaît.

Pl 1 : Ok surface, je vois le pipe il est à 10 mètres du fond tu peux continuer à le poser.

Surf : Plongeur 1 je t'avertis dès que la tension des câbles est à zéro.

Pl 1 : Bien reçu.

Le pipe se pose lentement sur le fond, mais à cause de l'état de la mer, le tangage et roulis du bateau se répercute sur le tube et celui-ci danse un peu sur le fond, ce qui a comme conséquence de soulever un nuage de vase qui réduit directement la visibilité à zéro mètre.

Surf : Ok plongeurs, le pipe est posé, Francis tu défais les daviers et toi Samo tu commences à dégonfler les parachutes.

Pl 1 : Ok je fais les daviers.

Pl 2 : Ok je dégonfle les 10 T.

Nous revoilà donc partis tous les deux à procéder au démontage des daviers, et ensuite à l'enlèvement et la récupération de tous les parachutes.

Ce travail va à nouveau nous prendre 2 bonnes heures.

Pl 1 : Ok surface le pipe est clair.

Surf : Ok les gars bien travaillés vous pouvez rentrer dans la tourelle.

Comme cela fait un peu plus de 9 heures que je suis dans l'eau, Samo m'invite à rentrer le premier. Chose que j'accepte volontiers,"merci Samo".

Mais voilà que brusquement Samo me tape sur l'épaule et me fait signe de regarder dans une direction donnée.

OOOUAHHH !!!! Chouette alors une bande de petits requins tournent autour de la tourelle, il y en a au moins une dizaine.

Pl1 : Surface.... on est entouré d'une bande de petits requins.... c'est super chouette.

Surf : Quoi ! vous ne les avez pas vu  sur le fond ?

Pl1 : Ben non il n'y avait plus assez de visi depuis la pose du pipe.

Surf : Est-ce qu'ils sont grands ??

Pl1 : Non, ce sont des requins pour PD ils ne font pas plus d'un mètre cinquante.

Surf : Bien allez rentrer maintenant avant qu'ils ne vous bouffent le culs.

Je rentre dans la tourelle, pour faciliter ma rentrée, Laurent ouvre la vanne du col de cygne, ce qui permet à l'eau de monter d'environ 0,4 m dans la tourelle.

Dès que j'ai le KMB 17 hors de l'eau, j'ai du mal à garder la tête droite à cause de la fatigue, je ressemble à David Niven dans le cerveau, Laurent est obligé de me redresser la tête pour pouvoir m'ôter le casque.

Ouf, voilà qui est fait, je me sens mieux.


Une fois déséquiper, je donne un petit coup de main au bellman à fin de tout ranger avant de faire rentrer le plongeur 2.

Ok, Samo est à son tour dans la tourelle.

Bellman : OOUAHH ! Samo qu'est-ce qui est arrivé à ta palme ???

Samo : Oh merde alors c'est quoi ça ?

En fait, toute  la voilure de la palme gauche a disparu jusqu'au niveau du pied et d'après la forme on voit clairement que cela a été arraché par une bébête avec de bonnes dents style requin ou grosse murène.

Francis : Et tu n'as rien senti ?

Samo : Ben si, j'ai bien senti quelque chose, mais je croyais que je m'étais accroché.

Francis : Eh bien mon gars, pour le même prix tu aurais pu avoir quelques orteils en moins.
Donc tu vois que ce qu'ils nous ont dit en surface du genre  "si vous ne voyez pas le requin, lui ne vous voit pas non plus" c'est de la connerie.

Lorsque tout est bien rangé et les vannes d'alimentation fermées, le bellman chasse l'excédant d'eau via la vanne de pressurisation, puis inspecte le joint de la porte inférieure et la renferme doucement.

Encore une petite pressurisation pour assurer le plaquage de la porte et nous voilà prêt à remonter.

Bellman : Ok surface porte plaquée, vous pouvez  remonter la tourelle.

Surf : Ok on vous remonte.

Pendant que la tourelle remonte, nous discutons de tout et de rien et bien sur de la palme.

En surface, l'équipe s'active à clamper la tourelle au caisson humide, et finalement nous entendons le bruit du vérin hydraulique qui assure le verrouillage final de l'ensemble.

Il ne reste plus qu'à comprimer le sas et nous voilà près à repasser dans notre petite maison.

Bellman : Ok surface, porte ouverte.

Surf : Ok les gars bonne nuit et merci.

Nous passons tour à tour dans le wet pot, où l'on croise le bellman de la seconde équipe qui se prépare à rentrer dans la tourelle pour faire sa check-list.

Au micro, serge le caisson master vient nous annoncer le menu. "Ok les gars, aujourd'hui il a le choix entre du caca sur de la merde, ou de la merde sur du caca."

Moi je choisis le premier plat, de toute façon merde ou pas, la nourriture n'a de toute façon pas beaucoup de goût en caisse, mais comme disent les Français, on mange aussi avec les yeux.

Enfin, encore quelques jours de patience et on aura peut-être droit à quelque chose de mieux car l'ensemble du catering c'est fait virer.

Pendant que Samo et Laurent discutent avec les 2 plongeurs suivant, j'en profite pour prendre une bonne douche bien chaude, car je trouve qu'il fait un peu frisquet dans notre caisson.

C'est vrai que 30 ° c'est un peu juste.

Il nous reste maintenant à prendre notre repas, et ensuite un gros dodo puisque nous sommes maintenant tranquilles pour une quinzaine d'heures.

Papy One

Photos et Diving Art trouvé sur internet (auteurs inconnus)

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