Bimal Sarkar, a youth fromNagerbazar in Dum Dum, Kolkata, can dive to depths of 55 feet and search the bed of the sea or river. As a clearance diver of the Indian Navy, his job involves underwater rescue as well as sabotage operations. He has also undergone training to remain underwater for up to 24 hours, surviving on oxygen pumped from the surface. This is known as saturation diving. On Monday, he surfaced from the shallow depths of the Hooghlynear the Man of War Jetty after a mock rescue and diving demonstration. The team included two marine commandos (MARCOS), an attendant and a supervisor.
“In the Navy, we are taught several techniques. In saturation diving, one can go to any depth as the quantity of Oxygen is not a factor. We are also trained in buddy breathing. In this technique, four divers breathe from a single cylinder. This is when we learn to conserve the oxygen in our lungs. I have been a diver for eight years now. The MARCOS are also expert divers but trained to fight on the surface. Our job is primarily underwater. This is a challenge for me. I had to do something different after joining the Navy,” Sarkar said. He is based in Visakhapatnam and was in West Bengal with the other team members for search and rescue operations during the Gangasagar Mela.
The diving officer during the day’s demonstration was a ship’s diver who is trained in clearing limpet mines and other explosives from the bottom of a ship. His job also entails clearing the propellers in case something gets entangled in them. “In India, diving is extremely difficult. Visibility below the surface is nearly zero at most places. We are trained to operate by sensation and feeling. The divers do communicate with each other and the surface. There are two systems. One is the Divers Underwater Communications System (DUCS) and the other is known as the Wireless Underwater Communications System (WUCS). Sometimes the guide rope attached to the diver is also used to communicate,” he said.
The Navy will be displaying a model of a submarine in the Republic Day Parade in Kolkata this year. “The model has been built by Alok Mullick of Rambagan who normally decorates pandals. This is a Sindhughosh Class submarine that has a crew of 54 on board. At any point of time, 18 men are on duty. It can remain out at sea for up to two months at a stretch. Apart from the submarine, we plan to display a communications vehicle and the model of a ship during the parade,” said Commodore Ravi Ahluwalia, naval officer-in-charge, West Bengal.