International Diving Institute Divers Explain Complexity of Thai Cave Rescue

Posted: July 11th, 2018
Commercial Diving,ROV Pilot and Technician

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — Thai Navy Seals say all 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks.

Many across the world watched the developments of the rescue, including several divers in the Charleston area, who truly understand the complexity of the mission.

Wayne Harris lives in Charleston and has been diving since he was a young boy.

“I started diving with my dad,” Harris said.

“Just shallow water, coastal water ways, and developed into diving ship wrecks and cave diving,” he said.

After his time serving in the US Army, he got his commercial diving certification.

Commercial divers typically use heavy-duty equipment to work on construction project underwater. Harris said the Thai divers, however, were unable to use the protective equipment.

“You have to really go bare bones because of the cave entry and exit. You can get snagged, get caught up on any variation of things, and you have to follow a line in or out. If something was to happen to your line in or out, you’re lost,” Harris explained.

Plus, divers experienced almost zero visibility under water and were unable to communicate.

“Like a mud puddle,” Harris said.

“Cave diving is the most dangerous and has the highest death rate for diving internationally. So, to be able to get them out is a feat in itself,” Harris said.

A former Navy diver, David Hollars, also watched the mission unfold. Hollars is an instructor at the International Diving Institute in North Charleston.

“The complexity was the distance involved in the rescue mission,” Hollars said.

“Not to mention they are working in a confined space. You know the caverns were really small, and they were down to a space that was only 15 inches,” he said.

The mission was certainly a challenge for experienced divers, but many believed it would be impossible for the children to complete it successfully.

“Basically just feeling your way through underwater and just hoping you’re going in the right direction…so you can only imagine the fear these children were facing as they were coming out,” Hollars said.

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