Evaluation of the Integrity of the MK 21 Contaminated Water Diving System and of the Efficacy of Decontamination Procedures
Technical rept. Nov-Dec 2003
NAVY EXPERIMENTAL DIVING UNIT PANAMA CITY FL
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Current Navy recommendations for diving in contaminated water include wearing a vulcanized rubber dry Suit mated to a MK 21 helmet with double exhaust valve to isolate the diver from the contaminated environment. No full-scale testing of this configuration or of the efficacy of recommended decontamination procedures has been performed. The purpose of this immersion testing therefore is to evaluate the integrity of the MK 21 contaminated water diving system and the efficacy of decontamination procedures. Using fluorescein as a contaminant analog, 14 dives followed by decontamination were performed in September 2003 end 22 in December 2003 at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit. Overall, the dry Suits adequately protected divers, but the MK 21 with double exhaust valve failed to prevent intrusion of water when the divers head moved from the upright position at any depth. Decontamination procedures were not thoroughly evaluated, but preliminary testing suggests that, because of the time restrictions, surface decompression diving should not be attempted if decontamination is needed. We recommend that the Navy consider alternative diving helmets for use when absolute isolation of the diver is necessary, and that the draft Contaminated Water Diving Technical Manual be updated to acknowledge these results.
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