Living on the other side of the Channel in the Netherlands is no barrier to Rob Konings being an involved NAS member. The many online courses that we offer, make that involvement even easier now. Rob writes about his recent weekend experience - from the comfort of his armchair.

Saturday, December 4th 2021, was (hopefully) the middle of the (online) training course Identifying Environmental and Explosive Hazards on Wrecks. For reasons of laziness this course name has been shortened by me to IEEHoW, but this abbreviation is also a good phonetic display of my enthusiasm for this course: IEEHOW!!

The beginning of the course started a couple weeks ago when I watched the pre-recorded video presentations on the NAS Moodle site. This not only reduced my screen fatigue during the online live session, but it also made it more convenient for some international participants like me dialling in from different time zones.

The pre-recorded videos consisted of three hours of content addressing among other things:

(1) the UK Ministry of Defence's Wreck Management Programme, within which the MOD executes research, investigations and removing pollutants from their wrecks both in UK waters and overseas;

(2) Learning how to recognise ordnance that you are likely to find on the seabed;

(3) How divers can help mitigate the damage of environmental risks posed by decaying military vessels.

The cherry on the cake of the pre-course work was provided by four case studies about environmental hazards on Second World War wrecks, including HMS Royal Oak which has a most tragic history.

Image 1: A screen grab from the online course showing the case study surrounding HMS Royal Oak that participants had to watch.

During the online course itself, we finally met up with the tutors in person. In real life, they were even more impressive than on film. With great enthusiasm and expertise, the more than thirty students were shown the process of creating Historic and Environmental Desk Based Assessments (H-DBA/E-DBA). The participants were not only taught the theory, they were also given the practical exercise to create a H-DBA / E-DBA of the RFA War Mehtar.

Image 2: Archival document of RFA War Mehtar used during the practical sessions of the course.

And the end? The end has yet to come. Not only because the participants have been given the opportunity to practice some of their new skills by sending their completed War Mehtar DBAs for review by the tutors, but also because this course is compulsory training for the NAS/MOD diving project taking place in mid-2022. I wonder how this story will end. Do you wonder too?

This NAS course will be running again in May 2022 to train people participating in the HMS Natal project. Contact [email protected] to be informed when the course is available for booking.