In the Field

NePSD Searches for Missing Wedding Ring

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A few days ago, a NJ resident, Dominick J Vieira, reached out to the divers of the NJ Dive group asking if there were any divers willing to search for his missing wedding ring. As Dominick explained, his ring flew off his finger while he was attempting to lash his late father’s boat to his boat, on the lagoon behind his father’s house.

Dominick wasn’t sure where the ring went, as it flew off his finger behind him and pinged off the railing of his boat. After thoroughly searching his boat, Dominick came to the conclusion that the ring must have fallen in the lagoon somewhere near the boats.

After considering the difficulty of the search (very small item, near blackwater, and unknown bottom conditions) we offered to assist Dominick using the same techniques we use and teach in the field.

This morning, our staff divers arrived at the location at 9am and began setting up for the operation.

We closely interviewed Dominick and his neighbor to get the best possible determination of where the ring might have landed (since no one witnessed it hitting the water), and even had Dominick draw us a series of drawings depicting where his, and his father’s boat, were situated when the ring flew off. We then had Dominick compare the drawings to the actual physical spot in question to confirm we were in the right location.

Because of the size of the object we were seeking, we elected to use a single line Jackstay search manned by two divers working in overlapping patterns.

The lagoon was depth-sounded, the jackstay was prepared, and a 20′ search length was chosen and set up. We then deployed the jackstay starting at the bulkhead covering the area Dominick indicated.

While final preparations were being made, a single diver made a pass over the area to visually search for the object and assess bottom conditions.

Water depth was 11-13′, water temperature was 41-degrees on the bottom, slack tide, and visibility was roughly 1 foot with a can light without disturbing the silt layer. No ring was located in this visual passes.

At this point, Diver two joined Diver one (both divers were on surface supplied air and voice comms. One wearing a hardhat, the other wearing a full face mask.) Diver one hand searched ahead of Diver two, who re-searched the same area using an underwater metal detector set on the highest sensitivity.

Once searching started, visibility dropped to blackwater (even blacking out the can lights completely) and we quickly realized the silt layer was approximately a foot deep of baby-powder consistency and littered with rocks, sticks, and construction debris including large panes of window glass (some broken in shards and some fully intact) and buckets full of discarded nails.

Both divers completed five full passes, moving the jackstay roughly 16-24″ between passes and searching inches at a time. Total search time for this dive was 105 minutes, 11-13′, 41-degrees, with overlapping search patterns (each diver searched the same area twice).

Having cleared this section of the search area, and being a bit cold, both divers returned to the surface to warm up and get some coffee. Upon surfacing, topside told the divers that they noticed an obvious oil sheen bubbling up from the bottom while both divers were working. Because of this, both divers were fully decontaminated according to our procedures before they removed their masks and came off air.

The next phase of the operation involved a new diver hand searching the bulkhead area, inches at a time. Over the course of a 40 minute dive, this diver cleared approximately 15′ of bulkhead.

Our final phase of the operation was diver one (of the first search) returning to the original search area on SCUBA and re-searching two passes of the outside of the first search zone with a metal detector to cover the edges of the zone where the original searching divers were turning around. During this dive, diver one experienced a catastrophic failure of their pony regulator (the clip choker walked down to the regulator and unscrewed it while the diver was working, causing the regulator to shoot off the hose and send the hose whipping through the water, open flow), which prompted a temporary stoppage to the operation. Once that issue was corrected and the lost regulator recovered, searching resumed.

After clearing the turn points, we determined that this search sector was sufficiently cleared and the jackstay was retrieved. Dive time, 40 minutes, 13′, 41-degrees, blackwater conditions. Silt conditions near the center of the channel deepened to nearly two feet of baby-powder oily black silt.

After the diver was retrieved and properly decontaminated, the operation was broken down and cleaned up.
We departed the dive site at 3pm, having cleared one search zone without locating the missing ring, exhausting all of our available air and concluding that we would return to search the remaining search zones.

All told, three divers completed a cumulative 290 minutes of bottom time (4 hours and 50 minutes), at 41-degrees, where they thoroughly searched a 20×15′ zone of high probability.

Despite us not locating his ring this time, Dominick was more than pleased with our efforts and we have made plans to return to the site in the very near future and search the remaining sectors of probability. As we told Dominick, if his ring is in there, we will make EVERY effort to find it. Even if it takes multiple trips.

At the end of the day, we departed somewhat downtrodden but happy that we could definitely say “that area is clear.”

Later that afternoon, Dominick posted the following on Facebook:

I would like to give a shout out to the crew from North East Public Safety Divers, they showed up on Sunday around 9.00am and began setting up their equipment and I quickly saw these guys are professionals at what they do.

Weather conditions weren’t best with ice cold rain and around 30 degree temperatures.
This lagoon is a dead end with approx 12ft depth along sides and 15 ft in center.
The water is brackish and almost black at times .

First team went in and worked the area I believe the ring fell in but conditions were rough with debris field, large glass panes, tons of nails from bulkhead workers and black silt up to their elbows not to mention zero visibility.

I gained alot of respect for this crew and any other divers that work under these conditions. I can’t thank them enough for the hard work they endured Sunday.
This dive didn’t turn up the ring with day getting short fast but the guys are telling me they want to go at it again in near future.

As the hours went by , while the divers were down in the water, I began to feel less sentiment for the ring, and instead ,I wanted them to find it so their hard work would be rewarded and they could come up from the cold waters. These guys are a tough dedicated group. They don’t give up.

I really want to thank these men for the hard work they did yesterday. I learned alot watching the operation.

And I want to thank all those who gave me well wishes.
Thank you

I used to think my father having been a Portuguese doryman fishing the north Atlantic was from the days when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron. This past Sunday I met some more of those iron men.

Once again, thank you all.

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NePSD Making Tender Technicians in Freeport, NY

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NePSD is in Freeport, NY (Nassau County), this weekend making 14 new ERDI Tender Technicians. Over the course of this two day training program, the students will be learning:

  • Dive gear overview and the process of dressing a diver
  • The roles of primary and back up tenders
  • Learn about the rolls and structure of a dive team and its operations
  • Performing scene assessment and crime scene recognition
  • Mapping a scene
  • Filling out the required documentation and dive logs
  • The use of pull signals and the Comm Boxes
  • Performing decontamination procedures on a diver and keeping themselves from contamination
  • How to log and handle evidence correctly
  • Monitoring diver air consumption
  • Maintaining search patterns
  • Maintaining situational awareness while focusing on the safety and well-being of their diver

Read more about this certification course here…

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Graduates of underwater criminal investigator class stand by the northeast public safety diver van.

NEPSD Staff Divers Complete UCI Course

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Over the weekend, a few NEPSD Staff divers (who are also active divers in the North Jersey Regional SCUBA Task Force) completed Mike Berry’s renowned Underwater Criminal Investigator course through his certification agency UCI Divers.

The four day course is widely considered the gold-standard for underwater criminal investigation training, and represents Mike’s exceptionally impressive 40 years of experience recovering evidence and victims from every type of water imaginable.

As the 30-year commander of the Virginia State Police’s dive team, and a still active VA State Trooper, Mike is a walking encyclopedia on techniques and procedures for finding even the smallest pieces of evidence, and how to package, document, and maintain that evidence so that law enforcement can effectively use it for a conviction.

From us at NEPSD, we can’t thank Mike enough for his time and dedication. We took a lot more away from his course than just the information. After all, it’s hard to beat learning from someone who has been teaching divers for 30 years.

Image of the instructor for Underwater Criminal Investigators proudly showing off a flotation device.
The man himself. Not only is he a class act but he also really liked our PFDs.

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NePSD Staff Divers Assist in Floating Historic USS Ling

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Today, Northeast PSD staff divers put their surface-supplied diving skills and gear to use helping on the ‘Save the USS Ling’ project. This project has been underway for quite some time and has the ultimate goal of re-floating the WWII-era submarine, USS Ling, from her current home stuck in the mud of the Hackensack River.

Once she is afloat, the sub will be moved from her current location and ultimately relocated to the Louisville Naval Museum, where she will be a historic exhibit.

The project is the work of a group of military veterans and volunteers from multiple states, all with the goal of rescuing the Ling from her currently abandoned predicament and preventing her from falling into further disrepair.

At this point in the project, the Ling needed to be inspected below the waterline, a large tree removed from under the bow, and some more silt removed from ballast tanks.

So when the restoration group reached out to us, we were more than happy to donate our time and skill to help out.

Northeast PSD Staff go Surface-Supplied Diving

Using our surface-supplied diving gear, staff divers spent a total of four hours below the surface.

The first hour was spent by NePSD founder & head instructor Tim Andro, who is also a certified Hull Inspection diver, painstakingly inspecting the entire starboard side of the ship inch by inch. During his dive, several cracks were located and marked for future inspection or repair.

The large tree was also rigged up and hoisted out from under the ship by topside.

After a rest period, Tim re-entered the water and spent more than an hour removing a large amount of silt from the ballast tanks.

Since Tim wasn’t the only staff diver who wanted to get wet, Tim came up and switched out with Andrew Ludwig who returned to the ballast tank and continued the silt removal work.

All told, NePSD staff spent approximately four hours working subsurface on surface-supply and hardhat. Topside tending and diver safety fell under the careful watch of staff members John Bota and James Finnernan, with assistance from some other volunteers.

It was a great day overall, and the Ling volunteers sincerely appreciated the assistance.

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NePSD Surface Supplied Diving

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Northeast Public Safety Divers Staff Complete Surface Supplied Diving Certification (Hardhat Diving)

In an effort to provide more in-depth public safety dive training to our customers, NePSD Staff recently completed a Surface Supplied Dive certification course taught by the renowned Surface Supplied instructor Dan Crowell.

This course was taken in preparation to offer Surface Supplied certification courses to our customers with Dan Crowell instruction. 

Northeast Public Safety Divers is 100% committed to bringing every possible resource to the public safety diving community through first-rate training by experienced instructors and divers. 

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NePSD Staff on Hand for Multi-Agency FBI K9 Exercise

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Who doesn’t want to participate in a massive drill hosted by the FBI…

On Oct. 2nd, 2019 the FBI hosted their bi-annual Tri-State K9 Maritime Exercise at Liberty State Park (Jersey City, NJ) and the FDNY Training Center at Randall’s Island.  The purpose of this exercise was to acclimate approximately 350 K9 teams with maritime operations, including the transfer of dogs and handlers from boat to boat in open water.

To add an additional layer of safety in the unpredictable waters of NY Harbor, the FBI requested the North Jersey Regional Task Force (which is comprised of a number of NePSD Staff members) provide divers for water rescue in the event a K9 team went in the water.

To support the operation, NePSD Staff members were stationed on a rescue boat directly behind the transfer boat (a Coast Guard Cutter), fully dressed in an 80% diver-ready status. Considering the unpredictable nature of the operation, and taking into account the fact that any of the potential victims were fully armed law enforcement officers carrying a large amount of weight, divers remained in 80% status for eight straight hours so they could deploy and submerge in less than a minute.

Following the completion of the operation, and with no victims to rescue, divers returned to the dock (without diving). All was not lost, however, when the NJ State Park Police told us that a number of metal dock planks fell off the dock a few months ago. No arms were required to be twisted and the planks were located and recovered in approximately 15 minutes by three NePSD Staff.

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NePSD & Massachusetts State Police

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Northeast Public Safety Divers Invited for Hull Inspections with MA State Police Dive Team

Professional relationships are everything, especially in the public safety realm. Today, NePSD Staff members were invited to accompany the MA State Police Dive team while they conducted hull inspections on Coast Guard cutters sitting in Boston Harbor. 

This opportunity was born out of the Boston Sea Rovers dive conference, where NePSD owner, Tim Andro is an annual speaker.

So naturally, when a few MA State troopers asked us if we wanted to check out the harbor and their operation, we tripped over ourselves to say yes. 

The day was spent on Boston harbor, coordinating with Coast Guard cutters moored at the piers in the harbor. 

To be sure, it was an amazing opportunity to take a peek into an active State Police dive team, and pick their brains about their operational tempo, methods, process and equipment.

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