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    NHC upgrades hyperbaric reception facility

    Company News // September 30, 2014

    The National Hyperbaric Centre (NHC) in the UK has recently upgraded its Hyperbaric Reception Facility (HRF) to ensure lifeboats can be accepted and mated efficiently.

    NHC has over 25 years’ experience responding to diving medical emergencies as part of the rescue contingency for many North Sea diving vessels. A service to transport a hyperbaric lifeboat from any UK port to the NHC decompression system has been strategically planned to ensure divers are given the best chance of survival in the case of an evacuation.

    On arrival at the NHC, the vessels (now mainly 10.5m in length and weighing around 16 tonnes) are then lifted onto a platform to be mated with NHC’s saturation facility which is connected to a hospital medical chamber.

    Vessels must be lifted and secured smoothly and quickly, as from deployment, the HLB only has up to 72 hours of life support for up to 24 divers who will probably be in poor health.

    Recent changes have been made to the entrance and framework at the NHC which has made this strategic and specialised process much more efficient.

    Three new-generation HLBs have recently been to the NHC for successful mating trials. Our clients were delighted with the changes which have been made to the system.
    "The knowledge gained from these trials proved to be imperative as so called ‘identical’ HLBs have tolerance issues which could easily result in a failure mating the vessel to any HRF, which would be detrimental to the divers," said the NHC.

    It notes that adjustments are required depending on vessel design to cope with problems identified such as:

    - Centre of gravity which affects flange loading.
    - Variations in positioning of alignment pins which prevents siting
      the HLB in its expected position. 
    - Flange heights can vary affecting flange alignment.
    - Sacrificial rings are required to assist with sealing, often requiring
      machining to achieve a proper seal.

    "This is not an exhaustive list of the discrepancies found," said the NHC, "but what has been proven is that laser measurements will not produce the accurate information required and cannot be used as a guarantee of sealing and mating success. Real HLB/HRF trials are a must."



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