Dr. Drew Richardson, President of PADI’s Technical Diving Division, was part of a ten diver test team sponsored by the USA’s National Science Foundation and Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with the U.S. Navy’s Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) earlier this year. It was a technical event held to test regulators for adequacy under extreme conditions and freeze up likelihood. The team also tested thermal protection systems.
They dived to depths in excess of 50 metres over a period of three weeks logging over 200 test dives. They dived under the Antarctic Ross Ice Shelf which is 6 metres thick in minus 2°C water with bottom times up to 50 minutes in length. They used completely redundant scuba equipment, which proved wise given that they experienced numerous failures and freeze ups of the equipment.