Monday, January 29, 2007

Day 1 - Final arrival and gear prep.

Well, it’s basically day 1 of the expedition and all the members have finally arrived. The day has been spent dealing with gas needs and equipment preparation for both the CCR and OC teams.

Some of the team members are waiting for last minute shipments of the gear that seem to get side tracked whenever we entrust our kit to the airlines.

Dive planning and talk of what’s to be done and how the line is to be laid took place in an informal meeting. Some members were prepping the lines that are to be placed into the mine, which included marking and cutting the line to length. This will make the placement easier on the teams laying the line later on in the week. A couple of the members, including myself, got into the pool to insure no leaks in the hoses and suits. Some got in to insure the weighting was just perfect, which is critical in this type of diving.

Of course what kind of trip would it be if things were too serious. We had to have a few some silly things.

Like those taking pictures of someone taking pictures.

Of course you have to test the dry suit to really make sure that you're not affected by the cold. Because lets face it, the water in the mines will be cold. So, by testing thermal factors in this manner should be good right?

And the best, is when someone gets into the mind to make faces at the camera, thinking that just maybe the picture won't be put on the internet.

We even had a couple of silly buggers thinking, while sitting a hot room, that cold was only a frame of mind. And proving this by going out playing in the snow was a good choice?

I must say, that if today is going to any indication of what's to happen over the next two weeks, this is going to be a great time.

The day ended with a fabulous turkey dinner prepared by Rick and Debra Stanley of Ocean Quest Charters. What a fantastic meal!

The Bell Mine a heritage site.

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) is proud to announce the recent designation of the Bell Island No. 2 Mine as a Registered Heritage Structure. It is the first engineering works of its kind to achieve such a designation by the province. I have attached a short article announcing the designation of the Bell Island No. 2 Mine. We would be pleased if you were able to put it in your publication. Please advise if you are unable to read the attachment.

About the Heritage Foundation

To view designated structures, visit HFNL was established in 1984 to stimulate an understanding of and an appreciation for the architectural heritage of the province and to support and contribute to the preservation and restoration of buildings of architectural or historical significance in the province. Since its creation, the Foundation has designated 261 buildings as Registered Heritage Structures. It has disbursed more than $1.1 million in restoration grants across Newfoundland and Labrador, with an estimated economic spin off of close to eight times that amount.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

So close...

A huge storm over St. John's has created havoc with arrival times of various team members. My flight in Saturday morning got within 20 metres of the runway, but the pilot aborted our landing and we turned tail and headed back to our starting point of Halifax.

Heading back to the airport to meet Stephen Phillips who arrives from London, Heathrow at about 14:00 but his flight from here to the Rock is also cancelled... perhaps we'll go for a beer!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bell Island Mine Quest map.

The #2 shaft slopes down at approximately 10 degrees and the distance to the water from the entrance is about 650ft. The square shown in the center of the map is from the waters edge and represents about a 1000 ft x 1000ft area thats is planned expedition coverage.
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A message from a friend and sponsor

January 24, 2007

Dear Bell Island Mine Exploration Team:

Approximately a year ago Steve Lewis approached me about the "Mine Quest" project that he had begun working on in conjunction with one of our most successful Canadian facilities, Ocean Quest in Newfoundland and Labrador. While he was scribbling away on a piece of paper putting together a diagram of the mine and frantically talking about what he wanted to accomplish, I have to admit I was only half paying attention. (In my defense, I figured it was just another creative scheme for Steve to get out of the office for a few days -- he does that a lot.) Well last week when he pointed me to your blog site and showed me a list of the participants, I was blown away. This is truly a team of experts.

TDI has been a part of many exciting and successful expeditions in the past and I was more than happy to offer whatever we could to help with the success of this new project. The fact all of you are volunteering your time and expertise to a worthy cause such as this one is is definitely a noble act. Too often in our sport I hear stories of people getting hurt by venturing somewhere that has not been made “diver safe” or pushing the limits in some other related way. You all are making this mine safer for the next diver to explore, and for them to experience the underwater world – where we have chosen to spend most of our time.For that reason alone, you all deserve to be commended.

Now in order for me to keep up with where you are planning on going and what days you are planning to lay what line, I went searching through my desk for Steve’s scribbled diagram. Due to the fact I “did not run a line”, I am unable to locate it. Depending on how successful you are, I may have another project for you. Find the diagram in my desk. It will definitely require at least two teams and a wine steward; Interested Aaron.

Have fun and stay safe. We look forward to running a story on your success in an upcoming issue of Diving Adventure Magazine.


Brian Carney

President, International Training

Friday, January 19, 2007

Big Press Release



Conception Bay, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. Between 29 January and 09 February 2007, a team of international cave divers from Canada, United Kingdom, USA and Egypt will carry out an exploration project in the abandoned and now flooded Iron Ore Mines in Wabana, Bell Island. The project follows an initial dive made in July 2006 and is mounted by Ocean Quest Adventure Resort in association with the Bell Island Heritage Society. It will provide information on the integrity of the mine shafts underwater, hazards, artifacts discovered and overall suitability for establishing a full-time cave diving operation in the mine.

Mine Quest is the brainchild of Rick Stanley, owner of Ocean Quest (Canada’s National Award Winning Dive Centre and the only 5 Star TDI Training Facility in Atlantic Canada), who has spent 10 years planning, preparing and training in the hope of obtaining permission to mount the expedition. It’s story is closely linked with that of the Bell Island Shipwrecks, 4 Allied Ore Carriers sunk by German U-boats in nearby Lance Cove during 1942. The wrecks and the history surrounding them attract divers from around the World and many ask about the possibility of diving in the mines - the source of the sunken ships’ valuable cargo. The No2 Mine Tour in Wabana currently provides the only opportunity for the Public to visit the disused mines but now the possibility to offer a full range of Technical and Recreational diving and a mine tour with a difference - giving the complex a new lease of life in the Adventure Tourism industry - is well within reach. Rick commented “After diving in the mine last July and on the Bell Island Wrecks for so long now, my respect and understanding for the Island, it’s people and their culture has grown immensely. I see this expedition as a great opportunity to increase awareness of the island’s unique history and of the 170 people who lost their lives in the mines and on the ships”.

The Bell Island Heritage Society (BIHS), operators of the surface tour in the abandoned mine, are very excited about the venture. They are confident it will increase tourism to the Island, help the business community and create many new employment possibilities. Committed to spreading the word about Bell Island’s rich heritage, the BIHS hope that Mine Diving will be a way to reach a group of people the area would probably otherwise never see.

The possibilities for exploration in the nine square mile submarine complex are “endless” according to Dive Team Leader Steve Lewis, Director of Product Development for Technical Diving International (TDI), USA who are supporting the venture. They plan to develop a unique ‘Mine Diving’ specialty for cave divers which would be conducted exclusively in the Bell Island Mines. The 17-strong project team comprises many prominent cave diving professionals from around the globe, including a member of the exclusive Explorers Club and all are excited about the prospect of venturing ‘Below the Bell’. Fittingly, the word Wabana is a native word meaning "Place of First Light" – in this case it will be high intensity light held by some of the World’s foremost underwater explorers as they go where no-one has been since the closure of the vast mine complex several decades ago, illuminating a dark hole below a small island but putting extreme diving in Newfoundland & Labrador very much in the spotlight!

For further information on the exploration project and its progress, visit the Mine Quest Blog Site or go to Alternatively, contact Rick Stanley or Steve Moore at Ocean Quest via 709 834 7234, Skype steve.oceanquest or

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who's doing what...

While our team members are multi-talented and the roles each of us will play are various and subject to change, here is a brief outline of the major responsibilities each of us will have during the exploration of Mine #2 on Bell Island

Rick Stanley: As Project Senior Executive Rick has been responsible for getting this project from a concept to reality... he has worked hard and for the duration of the expedition, our hope is he can relax and enjoy his role as survey diver and Project Videographer. "Best kind, Ricky!"

Stephen Phillips: Chief of Logistics for the Dive Team, which essentially means that Stephen will be the go-to-it guy for "dive stuff." Because Stephen is the closest thing we have to a diplomat on this team, he will liaise between the surface support team and the divers to make sure what we need to have on site at the beginning of each day's diving is on site. Stephen will be working closely with Project Manager Steve Moore... after all, they both have odd accents and the same first name so it seems fitting.

David Sawatsky, MD: As well as being our onsite doc, David will be the Project Surveyor responsible for collecting and collating daily survey data and assembling it into something resembling a readable report. His experience in mapping caves in similar conditions to those we expect to find in Bell Island Mine makes him the natural choice for this role.

Debbie Stanley: Rick’s wife and co-visionary for this project and one of the original exploration team, will work principally as one of the survey team and will more than likely have her hands full keeping the rest of us in line during surface intervals. While the term Den Mother would be inappropriate, I think Lion Tamer is fitting. Debbie will also wield a camera during our underwater adventures.

Phil Short: Phil has extensive experience both as an explorer and putting together the bits and pieces for TV shows that tell the story about exploration, and so as well as being one of our principle survey divers and long-range diver, Phil will also work as creative consultant with the project photographers.

Aaron Bruce: While he applied for the job as Project Wine Butler, Aaron’s talents will be directed to running the dive support team and as Support Team Leader he is the man who will arrange to have hot chocolate waiting for the survey divers when they begin their decompression in the main shaft of #2 Mine… I have no idea how he will arrange this without a habitat but at least we know he WILL have spare deco gas and a warm smile waiting.

Ralph Hoskins: As Dr. David’s long-time dive buddy and right-hand man, Ralph will work as Assistant Project Surveyor helping to make sense of the chicken scratches and poorly scribbled notes some of us will be handing in at the end of each dive.

Mike Fowler: Is a welcome late addition to the team and one guy I am very pleased to have on board… although he does help tip the scales very decidedly towards the theme song for this project being Rule Britannia… I can live with that and Mike will be a Safety Officer with particular focus on the CCR divers.

Vlada Dekina: A long-time friend and one of the most talented wreck photographers I know, Vlada is a newly minted full cave diver and will serve as our second Official Photographer and be an important part of our in-water support team.

Joe Steffen: Originally recruited for his skills cooking over an open fire, and taken on as part of the Survey Team, Joe will also assist with Team Logistics helping to make sure we start the day with a full fill, two fins and a dry suit of some description… Since Joe’s luggage is usually the first to be misplaced by carriers serving St John’s Airport and the last to be found, he has special talents scrounging dive gear.

Dave Clemmens: As well as a survey diver, Dave has the important task of keeping the world informed about our progress via this blogsite. We expect nothing but glowing reports of the team’s progress from day to day and no mention of whatever happens during various screeching in and related fish-kissing ceremonies planned for the many newcomers to the Rock.

Steve Moore: As Project Manager, Steve has worked wonders already with sponsors and various local supporters and for the duration of the expedition will be Mr. Fix-it running around like a headless chicken wondering why he ever left the piece and quiet of the Royal Air Force.

David Powell: Thank the gods that Dave is Operations Manager because as well as helping to make sure things run smoothly getting to and from the mine site, he will have the job of pointing Steve Moore in the right direction every morning at dawn… and explaining to him why retiring from the British Military was a wise career move.

Susan Copp: A great organizer and a stickler for detail, Susan will work as Project Administrator and be responsible for logging our exploits and keeping track of our time in the water and helping to make sure none of us turns into a clammy prune. She is also charged with making sure that no team member leaves the project without tasting some traditional Newfoundland and Labrador grub… “Will there be seconds o’flipper, me dear?”

Mark McGowan: We needed one sane, responsible team member and Mark is it. As a career peace office, he also has the kind of logical mind that will be helpful assisting Susan with Project Record Keeping. Now the challenge is going to be how he is going to get his horse and that bloody great big lance down the mine shaft.

Steve Lewis: Me… well, having handed out responsibilities for most of the important tasks to all the other team members, my main job will be keeping Rick’s father company and having a “wee swallie” when the time arises.

Steve Lewis

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bell Island History

I thought that maybe some of the readers would like to read up on a little of Bell Island. The following links will jump you to a couple of sites for a little history lesson.

The first link is a site for the Island itself.

With these links taking you to the Bell Island mine as well as some interesting sits that outline the kind of role that the different ages played. Including a interview with a former employee of the mine.

Of course these are only but a few sites that google pulled up. For those that are really keen, if you google "Bell Island Mine", you should get a few more.

Another site I found interesting is because there are some old videos that have been put up there. Check out the following links
I left my heart there
PML 27 Saganaga (Iron ore carriers sunk during WWll carring ore from the Bell Island Mines)


Tuesday, January 9, 2007


The below is a schedule of the expedition. As team designations are really arbitrary at this point… the way we see it, we need three groups or teams to be able to complete our tasks with lots of contingency, but it will give us maximum flexibility if we pick who is on one team or another on a day-to-day basis… that’s to say, a diver may be on Team A one day, Team B another and be part of the inwater Support Team on a third.




DAY 1 -- Monday 29

Travel Day… lost luggage, jet lag and unpacking…

Team members “from away”

DAY 2 -- Tuesday 30

Orientation… overview of expedition goals, gear checks, personal responsibilities, visit to mine, prepare lines and anchors, mix gas.

Team A

Team B

Support Teams

DAY 3 -- Wednesday 31

Set Mainline to 30 metres and place East Leg from 20 metre arrows for 300 metres.

Team A sets Mainline

Team B sets East Leg

Surface and In-water Support on Stand-by

DAY 4 -- Thursday 1

Set West Leg from 20 metre arrows and set East Leg from 30 metre arrows for 300 metres.

Team A sets West Leg

Team B sets East Leg

Surface on Stand-by

In-water Support meets teams at 20 metre arrows

DAY 5 -- Friday 2

Set West Leg from 30 metre arrows and set Bail Outs from 300 metre arrows east and west to surface.

Tourism Party in Evening…

Team A sets West Leg

Team B sets East Bail Out

Surface on Stand-by and places Surface Lines in East and West Tunnels

In-water Support meets teams at 30 metre arrows

DAY 6 -- Saturday 3

REST… maybe dive a wreck .

Whole Group

DAY 7 -- Sunday 4

Test all lines, Collect Samples, Dedicated Photo Sessions

Logistics for deep push

Team A tests West Leg and Bail Out

Team B tests East Leg and Bail Out

Surface on Stand-by

In-water Support meets teams at 30 metre arrows

DAY 8 -- Monday 5

Extend Mainline to 60 metres (gapped)

Bottle Drop for next day’s push

Team A and Team B

Surface on Stand-by

In-water Support meets team at 40 metre and 20 metre stops

DAY 9 -- Tuesday 6

Push East from 60 metre arrows as far as practical

Team A and Team B

Surface on Stand-by

In-water Support meets team at 40 metre and 20 metre stops

DAY 10 -- Wednesday 7

Clean up and Sign-off

DAY 11 -- Thursday 8


DAY 12 -- Friday 9


Our Personnel

: Nova Scotia, Canada: Maine, USA. Project Team Leader. Steve is an experienced Technical Instructor Trainer with more than a decade of experience teaching technical diving, and with several thousand logged dives to his credit. His special expertise is in overhead and mixed gas diving and he was a member of the Training Advisory Panel for International Training - the governing organization for SDI, TDI and ERDI - and currently is a staff instructor-trainer and Director of Product Development for that agency. Steve has written several textbooks and training standards for both SDI and TDI and is a popular speaker at dive shows across North America. He has led explorations and survey teams in deep, cold water dives on several occasions.

RICK STANLEY: Newfoundland, Canada. Project Senior Executive. The President and Owner of Ocean Quest, Rick has a background in the Home Renovations Industry and learned to dive in the early 1990s as a recreational pastime. His passion for the sport rapidly grew and he soon realized the potential for diving tourism in Newfoundland & Labrador. Founding Ocean Quest in 1997, his commitment to the sport and preservation of underwater heritage is widely acknowledged and in addition to receiving numerous tourism awards and UNESCO recognition, he was appointed as advisor to Parks Canada on the subject of SCUBA Diving. A diving instructor, he is also an avid technical and cave diver and accomplished underwater photographer.

STEPHEN PHILLIPS: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. Diving Team Chief of Logistics. Stephen Phillips is an active Instructor-Trainer for TDI and Regional Manager for SDI/TDI United Kingdom. He specializes in Rebreather training up to mixed gas level on various units and has conducted dives to many deep wrecks off the Donegal coast including Audacious, Empire Heritage and Justicia. His passion for U-Boats has seen him on various trips with submarine hunter Innes McCartney. Stephen is also full cave certified and has logged dives in many of the cave systems in Southern France. He will be a valuable member of the team and will be deep support and chief of logistics on rebreather and OC pushes.

DAVID SAWATSKY, MD: Nova Scotia, Canada. Project Physician. David is a Diving Medical Specialist who was on contract at Defence Research and Development Toronto (formerly DCIEM) from 1998 to 2005. Previously he was the Canadian Forces Staff Officer in Hyperbaric Medicine at DCIEM (1986-1993) and later the Senior Medical Officer at Garrison Support Unit Toronto (1993-1998). He has written a monthly column on diving medicine in Diver Magazine since 1993, is on the Board of Advisors for the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD) and is an active cave, trimix and closed circuit rebreather diver, instructor and instructor trainer. David has completed over 500 cave dives and most of these dives were original exploration and surveying dives.

DEBBIE STANLEY: Newfoundland, Canada. Survey Team & Photographer. Co-Owner of Ocean Quest, Debbie learned to dive with husband Rick as a recreational pastime and is an ardent wreck and cave diver. Debbie’s accomplishments as an underwater photographer have gained her much acclaim and she is recognized as an extremely skilled technical diver.

PHIL SHORT: (Our own personal global legend) United Kingdom. Project Creative Consultant. The founder of Phil Short Technical, Phil is one of the UK’s foremost IANTD Instructor Trainers and is a PADI Master Instructor with over 5000 dives to his credit. A participant in numerous expeditions worldwide, he has been involved in many major TV productions and is the leader of a continuing cave exploration project in the Ural Mountains, Russia.

AARON BRUCE: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Support Team Leader. A former Royal Navy Mine Clearance Diver, Aaron has been in Egypt since 1997 is the Technical Director at Emperor Divers. He is one of the most highly qualified TDI Instructor Trainers in Egypt and his credentials include TDI Inspiration/Evolution Mixed Gas Instructor Trainer, TDI Drager Dolphin Instructor Trainer, TDI Advanced Gas Blender Instructor Trainer, TDI Kiss Advanced Mixed Gas Instructor Trainer PSA Instructor Trainer.

RALPH HOSKINS: Nova Scotia, Canada. Assistant Project Surveyor. Ralph is a technician at the nuclear power plant in Pickering, Ontario. He has been a very active diving instructor, technical and cave diver for 20 years, with several hundred cave dives to his credit. Many of these dives were original exploration and surveying dives in the very challenging cold water caves of Canada. For the past several years he has been David Sawatzky’s main diving partner on dives all over the world. Ralph is originally from Newfoundland and has family who worked in the Bell Island iron ore mines.

MIKE FOWLER: Ontario Canada. Project Safety Officer. The co-owner and founder of Silent Diving Systems, LLC (SDS). Mike has been diving the Inspiration since it was first introduced in the market in 1997. He has worked in all phases of production in the factory in England. He is the primary person for maintenance service and repair of the units. Originally starting as a British Sub Aqua Club diver, then instructor through PADI & IANTD, Mike founded IANTD in South Africa and is an IANTD Instructor Trainer for the Inspiration, Cave, & Trimix both OC & CCR. He is an avid Cave & Tri-mix diver on the Inspiration and is very excited about how the Inspiration Rebreather impacts those types of diving. Mike has over 800 logged hours on the Inspiration Rebreather as well as over 1000 dives on OC and other Rebreather. He conducted the first Inspiration training class in North America; his students included Tom and Patty Mount. Eventually Mike returned to England to work for Ambient Pressure Diving. Then relocated to Brockville, Canada to manage Silent Diving Systems distribution and service center. He loves dive instruction and is an avid diver.

VLADA DEKINA: Ontario, Canada. Project Photographer #1. Born in the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East of Russia, Vlada has called Toronto home for the last ten years. Living within hours of all the Great Lakes, Vlada is an active wreck diver and accomplished underwater photographer with a keen interest in the maritime past of the Great Lakes region and histories of wrecks she visits. When not diving in the Great Lakes, Vlada can be found photographing wrecks and reefs of the Truk Lagoon, Red Sea, Florida and Carribean or the caves of Yucatan.

JOE STEFFEN: Ohio, USA. Team Logistics. Joe is an experienced technical diver with more than 130 logged cave dives, including 35 DPV cave dives. His dives in deep caves include Eagle's Nest and Diepolder, and he has several deep cold-water wreck dives including Gunilda and Judge Hart. A career police officer and veteran, Joe’s organizational skills and natural leadership have made him a welcome member of dive expeditions in each of the Great Lakes and Eastern North America including two trips to the Bell Island wrecks.

DAVE CLEMMENS: Ontario, Canada. Project Communications. Born and raised in the city of Toronto, Dave is currently working for IBM Canada as a System Analyst. Living within hours of all the Great Lakes, Dave is an active wreck diver looking forward to reaching some of the deeper wrecks via his newest toy, the Prism Topaz eCCR. First certified as a NAUI open water diver in 1973, Dave moved up to the upper levels of diving and became a PADI Dive Master. Furthering his education in diving he became Mixed Gas certified 2004 as well as Cave certified in 2005. Dave not only enjoys the challenging deeper dives but is very much at home in shallow water just swimming and enjoying the environment. As like some of the expedition members, Dave has also visited and enjoyed the Bell Island wrecks 2 years in a row.

Permanent Support Team:

STEVE MOORE: Newfoundland, Canada. Project Manager. A TDI/SDI Instructor originating in the United Kingdom, Steve retired from the Royal Air Force after 25 years to pursue a new career in the diving industry. He learned to dive with the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) whilst based with the RAF in Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean and after getting the 'diving bug’, organized several military diving expeditions on both sides of the Atlantic. Newfoundland became his favourite diving destination and he now lives there with his family and works with Ocean Quest as the Program & Expeditions Manager.

DAVID POWELL: Ontario, Canada. Project Operations Manager. A retired Royal Air Force Engineering Officer, diving since 1983 and now living in Canada, David has experience of a wide range of environments. A BSAC First Class Diver & Advanced Instructor and TDI/SDI Instructor, he spent 15 years as a British Forces Sub-Aqua Diving Supervisor and organised or participated in numerous military expeditions including: Ascension Island, Cyprus, Spain, Orkney, Gibraltar, Canada, and the Falkland Islands. Extensive experience organising and leading military expeditions and dives utilising divers working on projects. Additional qualifications: Draeger Dolphin SCCR, BSAC Rescue Specialist, PADI EFR, O2 Instructor, regulator technician.

SUSAN COPP: Newfoundland, Canada. Project Administration. An extremely active SDI Instructor, Sue left a fulltime occupation as a College Instructor in Natural Resource Management and found a new career in SCUBA Diving. In her relatively short time as a diver, she has gained numerous instructional certifications in diving specialties and has completed over 300 recreational and technical dives in her favourite diving destination, Newfoundland, during the last year alone. A member of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment (Reserve) for over 20 years, Sue is also the Training Administration Assistant at Ocean Quest.

MARK McGOWAN: Newfoundland, Canada. Project Record Keeper. A career police officer as well as an instructor for PADI and TDI.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Team Structure

The exploration team will be divided into two categories: Surface Team and In-Water Team.

The surface team will be responsible for supplying logistical support for the in-water team and are an essential component without whom the dives will not be possible. All the permanent support team members must carry current certification in the administration of emergency oxygen and first aid including CPR (TDI/SDI CPROX and CPR1st or equivalent.) The members of this team will take charge of all operations above water which will include but not be limited to: transportation of equipment and personnel to and from dive site; preparation of diving cylinders; preparation of surface supplied gases if required; operation of staging platform if required; diver logging and management; overall welfare of all team members above water; control of any and all emergency situations including injured diver, lost diver, injured surface team member. The surface team will have an Operations Manager and deputy, one of whom must be present during all diving operations. All other permanent support team members will be considered deputies to the Operations Manager for the duration of the project. Additionally, the surface team will include 2 certified cave divers, with full diving equipment and spare cylinders, on standby to fulfill any emergency diving requirements. Any such diving will be planned according to the circumstances.

The in-water team will be divided into two sub-teams: support divers and push divers. The job of support divers is to offer logistical and physical support for the push sub-team. This support may include staging of contingency gas along passages, collection of spent cylinders, monitoring push team members during staged decompression and helping with gear deployment for push team members.

The push team members have the task of exploring and surveying the flooded mines and conducting required tasks at depth (for example, taking water samples or photographs, etc at pre-designated intervals). They will also be charged with documenting the condition of the mine and any artifacts contained in its passages.

Both Support and Push team members will be exposing themselves to high risk in an unforgiving environment and may be several hundred metres from assistance when working. These people must be certified and active cave divers with experience diving cold water. They will also have experience running DPVs (underwater scooters) and be certified and experienced in the use of helium-based breathing gases. All support divers should be as capable as push divers. All dive operations must be cleared by signature on diver logs by both Operations Manager and Team Leader.

Team challenges.

Every overhead environment presents divers with a number of challenges well beyond the scope of recreational diving. These include gas management, lighting, and navigation. Additional risks in these mines will include thermal stress, and potential poor visibility – it is highly likely that the mine contains large deposits of silt including organic mung from rotting wood and other vegetable matter. The initial exploration dive conducted in July 2006 encountered no particular difficulty due to such factors but only a limited area of the mine was visited. Therefore it must be assumed that divers may be faced with these risks during further exploration.

Project Scope

Bell Island Mine is an abandoned iron ore mine located in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland, Canada.

The mine was worked until the middle of the last century and now most of its several thousand metres of passages are flooded. These passages extend to depths beyond the operational limits of both open circuit scuba (OCS) and closed circuit rebreathers (CCR). They also spread out several kilometers from the main entry point, putting the maximum potential penetration beyond the endurance of divers using any conventional equipment. In other words, the possibilities for exploration are limitless.

Thursday, January 4, 2007


Folks, this is Bell Island, The home of some very beautiful WWII ship wrecks and now, the home of soon to be a great location for mine diving.

Welcome to our site.

We'll be using this to keep you informed as to the progress of the Bell Island Expedition. Which BTW, will be starting Jan 29th 2007.

For a little bit of the history and a peek on how this got started. On Saturday 29th, a team of four divers entered the water 650ft down the main shaft of a flooded iron ore mine located on Bell Island, Newfoundland, Canada. After penetrating 400 feet along the shaft underwater before turning back. Rick and Debbie Stanley, owners of Ocean Quest Adventure Resort in Conception Bay South, along with Steve Lewis of TDI and Erik Van Dorn emerged 32 minutes later to a applause from the support team.

The few shots below give you an example of the preparations and team work to make this initial exploration possible.

The Team starting to arrive and unload the dive van.

A couple of the locals starting the trek down to the waters edge, 650ft down the shaft.

Once the gear was unloaded and trecked down to the waters edge, it was time for the eploration team and support members to assemple the gear and insure its safe working order for the task at hand.

Of course this last image is of the team leader just making sure everything is just so. He's such a fussy bugger :)

So now that you've had a taste of what's to come. Make sure you visit us after Jan 29th for updated information and photos. This is going to be a very exiting time.