Regulator Failure - Galapagos

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DiveProKoko

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Hey, guys! I'm not here to "out" any operators or anything so I won't mention them, but would like to tell a cautionary tale for others to be aware of. We had a customer come into the store for regulator service on a reg that failed at about 60 feet while diving in the Galapagos recently. Turns out the first stage completely filled with tank debris, blocking off the air supply from the tank. The diver had an "out of air" emergency and did an air share with the DM. He's fine.

"But what about the dip tube?" is the question we asked, and the question you are probably asking yourselves right now. Well, good question. They would not inspect the valve/dip tube status in front of the customer, which I guess I understand, but it's a little shady. Thinking about it, it may be possible that due to the pandemic there are tanks sitting around at various shops around the world and not being used or inspected properly. Especially if a dive op has been hurting financially and feel they can't afford the expense right now. I would caution everyone to be vigilant and at least check the inspection dates on tanks, especially from places that have been closed or awhile. It may not have prevented this emergency, but it sure seems like a good idea now more than ever. Happy diving!
 
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DiveProKoko

DiveProKoko

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If they can't afford to run a safe dive operation, then they need to temporarily (if possible to get the money over time another way) or permanently shut down. This could have killed somebody.
Totally agree. Unfortunately, it's up to us divers to make sure the gear we're using is up to par and rejecting any that isn't. In this case the operator is 100% wrong, but the diver is the one that had to deal with the emergency. Be careful out there and follow your training, which includes inspecting the dates on the tank, the condition of the tank, the air quality, etc.
 

rick00001967

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Unfortunately, it's up to us divers to make sure the gear we're using is up to par and rejecting any that isn't.

sorry but i could not disagree more.

when we rent equipment from a dive operation it is 100% their responsibility to ensure the equipment is maintained properly and is properly certified for use. if that gear were to fail, and it is proven they were negligent in the maintenance and care, they would absolutely be liable if that country allows someone to sue them.

if i rent a car, it is not my responsibility to ensure the lugs on the wheels are tight, the oil type and level is right, and the engine is running properly.

i do agree we should not blindly accept rental gear without at least giving it a good once over and testing it though. but thats about it. most recreational divers would not even know what to look for.
 

Doc

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i do agree we should not blindly accept rental gear without at least giving it a good once over and testing it though. but thats about it. most recreational divers would not even know what to look for.
‘Most recreational divers would not know what to look for’

Even knowing how to check a rental BC, lp inflator, or reg set. Nor even their own, much less a bottle.
 

TerryC

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Check out this.
Dip tube is detached from valve but suspended in tank crud. No rattle from the tank.
 

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Scared Silly

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Hey, guys! I'm not here to "out" any operators or anything so I won't mention them, but would like to tell a cautionary tale for others to be aware of. We had a customer come into the store for regulator service on a reg that failed at about 60 feet while diving in the Galapagos recently. Turns out the first stage completely filled with tank debris, blocking off the air supply from the tank. The diver had an "out of air" emergency and did an air share with the DM. He's fine.

"But what about the dip tube?" is the question we asked, and the question you are probably asking yourselves right now. Well, good question. They would not inspect the valve/dip tube status in front of the customer, which I guess I understand, but it's a little shady. Thinking about it, it may be possible that due to the pandemic there are tanks sitting around at various shops around the world and not being used or inspected properly. Especially if a dive op has been hurting financially and feel they can't afford the expense right now. I would caution everyone to be vigilant and at least check the inspection dates on tanks, especially from places that have been closed or awhile. It may not have prevented this emergency, but it sure seems like a good idea now more than ever. Happy diving!

Most rental/boat cylinders that I have seen do not have any inspection dates other than the last hydro date. That is, these operations do a cylinder inspection in mass on a particular schedule.

As for the incident at hand. Given the back story I hope you documented what you found with picture so the customer can send them to the operation and ask for the costs to be covered. If the dive op steps up and covers the cost so be it. If not, it is worth letting others know the name.
 

Stoo

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sorry but i could not disagree more.

when we rent equipment from a dive operation it is 100% their responsibility to ensure the equipment is maintained properly and is properly certified for use.
Bang on. The challenge comes when you arrive on site and ask them to perform a VIP in front of you. Sadly, the only other way to detect crap in the tank is to give it a shake, which seems a little much.
 

John C. Ratliff

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I’m assuming that both these tanks were steel tanks, as the type of corrosion mentioned probably would not happen in aluminum tanks.

SeaRat
 

Scared Silly

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I’m assuming that both these tanks were steel tanks, as the type of corrosion mentioned probably would not happen in aluminum tanks.

SeaRat

All the cylinders we saw and used were aluminum. When an aluminum cylinder get enough water in it a pasty slurry can form. Look at the picture posted above, that is very much what I would expect. The OP's description of "tank debris" is a bit too general for me to come to any conclusion. Though as I posted I hope they took photos.
 
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