An inquest has heard how two experienced divers died after becoming trapped on the HMS Scylla wreck, off Plymouth.
Andrew Harman and Mark Gallant perished but a third diver, Adam Dent, managed to escape, just as his air tanks emptied, and raised the alarm.
Despite efforts to save the men, they could not be reached and fellow divers could only watch from the surface as two streams of air bubbles petered out. According to Plymouth Live, the inquest heard how “complacency” may have played a part in the tragedy and support was given for a national protocol to be drawn up to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
The inquest, at Derriford in Plymouth, heard how Mr. Harman, aged 40 and from Plymouth, and 49-year-old Mr. Gallant, from Hatt near Saltash, were among a party of divers who set out from the city in the early evening of September 3, 2021, to dive onto the HMS Scylla artificial reef in Whitsand Bay. They left Sutton Harbour on the vessel Outcast, owned by the Aquanauts diving business.
Mr. Harman, a theatre lighting technician, and Mr. Gallant, a computer systems analyst, were both described as highly experienced and qualified divers. Mr. Harman was said to also be a dive trainer and instructor and Mr. Gallant a specialist in wreck diving.
HMS Scylla is a 120m-long former Royal Navy frigate which was sunk in 2004 to form an artificial reef and haven for sea life. It has become a popular spot for recreational divers to explore. The ship lies in 24m of water, 9m from the surface.
Ian Arrow, senior coroner, read statements which revealed how Mr. Harman, Mr. Gallant and Mr. Dent, a qualified scuba instructor who had taken part in up to 500 dives, decided to dive down and “penetrate” the wreck while four other, less experienced, divers swam around the submerged vessel. The three men each had two air cylinders with Mr. Harman’s said to contain enough air for a 90-minute dive.