NAS Skills Days: same same but different

NAS Education Officer Peta Knott recounts the activities of this weekend’s Skills Days that were incorporated into our fieldschool

A record number of divers attended our NAS Skills Days at the U-boat War Fieldschool this weekend.

One of the largest group of Skills Days participants NAS has trained!

While every one of our Skills Days is a little different, to tailor the training to the abilities and requirements of our participants, this has been by far the most unique.

The course started off as usual with our well-travelled fake wreck taking centre stage as the venue for the dry run practical training sessions. Some divers took the initiative in simulating the dry ‘dive’ by estimating its dimensions in body lengths!

How many divers does it take to survey a fake wreck?!

But when it came to the underwater skills training, it was a whole different matter than usual. We had a real wreck to work on! Part of the added benefit of doing the Skills Days on this NAS Fieldschool is that the participants are actively contributing to the investigation of the SS Leysian wreck, rather than just repeatedly measuring a well-known site. But with that comes challenges, like trying to establish a suitable location to lay the baseline after only visiting the 100m long site once before.

Baseline/Offset survey method in action on the SS Leysian wreck

This is when the participants really learnt how to investigate a wreck from the very beginning because while the site is dived regularly, no one has ever created a site plan – until now! And diving on a real wreck certainly put the course participants survey skills to the test. Luckily with a lot of planning and a large wreck to spread out and work on, they all got lots of underwater practice of their newly-learned survey skills.

Diver measuring some of the large metal fragments on the seabed

But as with all NAS Skills Days, after the diving comes the drawing up of the underwater measurements and seeing how accurate they were!

Divers deep in thought as they draw up their underwater measurements

We need a few more measurements before the site plan starts to take shape. So stay tuned to our daily blog and find out how we progress with investigating and recording this amazing example of our WWI underwater heritage.

If you’re interested in learning the practical skills necessary for surveying an archaeological site and being involved in NAS fieldwork, sign up for one of our Skills Days. They are held underwater, on the beach or in a classroom so anyone can do them. Available dates are on our events page.

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