The project could not have been completed without the help of the students from BU who made up the majority of the team
Taking part in the DD tanks project was my first experience of marine archaeological work and it was an excellent opportunity to be offered a place in the project. The tasks of the project being to locate and record the 7 DD Valentine tanks located in Poole as a result of operation SMASH. With the 40+ locations for them it required searching and dives to find them. This is the first time I have purposefully looked for an object underwater, and with several dives to sand I could see how this could often be a long process. Luckily we found them all relatively quickly.
This put to practice all of the theory work that I had done during my undergraduate degree. The multiple dives to check out anomalies, the recording, measuring and the use of search patterns was a great all around introduction to underwater work. Taking part in this project not only helped my archaeology but also my diving, with 20 dives in 10 days, my overall ability and confidence in the water improved. Being given tasks to achieve during the dive, such as completing a circular search, recording remaining components or photographing the tanks, meant that I needed to be thinking about the task at hand and not distracted with buoyancy etc.
Overall the experience gained from this project is very helpful to me, most importantly showing me that I am on the right career path. And also improving my abilities as a diver in so many ways, such as my ability to perform tasks underwater and being able to look at a wreck in a more detailed, logical manner.
Signing up for the tanks project was one of the better things I have done in my career as a student. I come from a scientific background so I am not stranger to fieldwork –the trials and tribulations and most importantly the rewards, but this was something different altogether for me. For the first time I felt I was truly part of a professional team, gaining the skills and developing the attitude required on such operations.
The different tasks undertaken included circular searches, recording of the structure when found and identifying and photographing features. This is something we had practiced in our time on the Masters course but not in this capacity – this was the real world application of all we had learnt. This is where your diving gear became a true extension of your body, the use of it was something as natural as breathing or so to speak, checking air and time was something that simply happened, not something you had to think about doing because the focus was on the task at hand.
It was a fantastic opportunity to work with course mates and other peers and professionals in the industry as well as network within the discipline. It was also a great way to improve my diving skills and experience both in and out of the water.
Practical experience in any discipline is crucial and a defining factor in terms of employability. Projects such as these are a fantastic way to provide students with the edge they need come time to apply for positions in the industry. Through my involvement in the project, I feel a lot more confident in my ability to participate in such operations on a professional level in the future.