Opening a whole new world of experiences
The newest, and most ambitious, Monterey Bay Veterans (MBV) program is the diver training and ocean diving access program. As with all of MBV’s programs, the objective is to open an area of activity not typically available to our disabled military and veterans, and physically challenged community.
The program has a number of key components.
Professional dive instructor Frank Degnan leads the assessment and pool training aspects of the program. Frank has over 30 years of experience in SCUBA instruction and, more importantly, is highly qualified in the introduction of the physically challenged to the world of diving. This is accomplished with a variety of prosthetic appliances and mechanical tools to accommodate the control and/or mobility challenges for each diver. This portion of the program is conducted at California State University, Monterey Bay facilities.
The crown jewel of the new program is MBV’s boat “Freedom”, a 60 foot Pacifica, which has been refitted as the first dive boat specifically designed to accommodate physically challenged divers. The “Freedom” has been modified with several performance enhancing systems and an on-board Nitrox System (air enriched with oxygen). The system is capable of blending optimum breathing gas mixtures for on-board replenishment of SCUBA tanks. Nitrox is widely used in recreational SCUBA diving and is particularly beneficial to amputees and divers with compromised circulation. One of the highest quality and safest oil-free breathing air compressors was built and donated by Rix Industries.
The key to the functionality of “Freedom” for disabled divers is the first of its kind submerging dive platform. This platform allows for safe and easy deployment and retrieval of physically challenged divers and equipment. The platform and its hydraulic system were designed by renowned diver and marine engineer Chris Delucchi from n8 Design in collaboration with MBV Captain Tim Doreck and dive instructor Frank Degnan. The platform was manufactured by Perry Settlemoir of Sierra Design Manufacturing and installed by a team of volunteers led by Captain Tim Doreck and Chris Delucchi.
The “Freedom” is currently home ported in Monterey Bay California with plans to eventually home port in southern California during the winter months.
This program has been years in development and has been sponsored and driven by a large number of talented individuals with support by both corporate and public entities, as well as significant funding from MBV. Many of the project needs in the form of time, talent and products were either partially or totally donated. There were so many special skills and physical assets required for such a far reaching objective it is truly serendipitous that the resources have all become available in a time and place that made for a success.
As with all MBV programs there is little or no charge to our disabled troops and veterans or other qualified persons. We do acknowledge and are very grateful for all donations in support of our efforts. You may specifically direct your donation to this project by writing “For MBV Freedom Dive Program” on your donation form.
Monterey Bay Veterans, Inc would like to give special thanks to the sponsors and donors without whom the Lift to Freedom project could not have happened.
Freedom Dive Program Application Forms