This is a possible near future or "alternate time line". All diving has been put under a tight naval / industrial control. Enforcing this is one of the duties of the inshore branches of the Sea Patrol. If you don't want this sort of thing to become reality, watch out for authoritarianism and officialdom creeping up on your favourite hobby.

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THE SEA PATROL

On the waterfront

I had a manual waterfront life since I left school and was brought up without the all-too-common paperwork and office mentality. Like many such men, I was used to heaving goods about in all weathers in a thick tough boilersuit and heavy boots (in the process building up much muscle) and doing things instead of recommending and holding meetings and paying people to do things. I and some of us were also in a docks security callout squad, where we learned to be hard efficient thugs when sorting out such nuisances as tinkers and gipsies and vagrants that intrude to steal or sleep in odd corners, and freelance press telling lies to get in and wasting people's time being nosy to get copy to sell, or indiscriminate photographing telling everybody including undesirables about the insides of our buildings. One day after the police and the council kept making excuses and doing nothing, we flamethrowered out a large tinker camp on waste ground behind the docks, and the thieves fled leaving all their vehicles and never came back: 9-foot propane flames worked much better than paper court writs. Police usually merely tell them off for being naughty, and "turning the other cheek" and "good advice" accomplish nothing.

I also worked on or around dredgers sometimes, mostly the usual big dredgers made for deepening big docks and seaways, and of no unusual concern. In later years people designed and made a variety of small dredging craft, some submersible, for dredging in odd corners and recovering lost items.

The public get in the way, even underwater

Meanwhile sport scuba diving got bigger and bigger, with more and more participants and sorts of kit, and exotically-named sport diving boats (including some named after Star Trek spaceships). It started soon after 1945 with a few men "playing at frogmen", and started to grow big in 1953 when a National Geographic Society article about Cousteau's work, and in France a film, started a big public demand for aqualungs. Official attempts to stop this trend were non-existent or too little and too late. The BSAC formed. Cases multiplied of sport diving interfering with other water use; these had to be sorted out here and there down the years with assorted agreements. The common public dived where they liked with no effective law or licencing or logging. For very many years the BSAC's policy about rebreathers was "Here be dragons." and to curtly forbid their use; but after world Communism fell in 1989 the Ministry of Defence stopped requisitioning every diving rebreather patent that came, and sport rebreather diving got away, and sport divers who changed over to them became harder to detect and could dive for longer. They treated diving as a great thing to do; but a sport dive is merely the shell of a dive, without the important centre part, which is useful work done underwater by the divers.

We and other work harbour workmen had enough and too much of sport divers using our harbour without permission for diving or for launching boats, and of losing work time rescuing sport divers who got into difficulties, and of shifting sport divers out of the way of work. To some of us, particularly in recent years when we can start to see the end of the world's fossil fuels and metal ores, boats and diving, and vehicle use in general, should be for work and the armed forces only.

Something in the wind

Some went further than merely complaining over drinks in the evening. UKIFA (UK Inshore Fishermen's Association) was originally an ordinary trade association that worked through the law courts and passed on recommendations and suchlike. But UKIFA got tired of words achieving nothing, and turned to action. 18 sport scuba divers from Lichfield BSAC went to an out-of-the-way beach in Devon for a week camping and diving. Early on their first morning they were roughly woken by an unofficial inshore fisheries patrol squad in identical boilersuits with UKIFA badges on and home-made riotsquad gear surrounding their tents. The squad batoncharged, and roughly seized and restrained the sport divers and charged them with shellfish poaching and "unauthorized scuba diving".
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They did not resist long. They strained at gags and handcuffs watching a corporation-type rubbish-collecting truck breaking up and compacting and swallowing their diving gear and inflatable boats and boat-trailers and camping gear. The squad hard efficiently beat them up and left. That was the first action by UKIFA's new PAG (= Patrol Action Group). Afterwards, the sport divers told the police, who found nothing; the local policeman was from a fishing family.

In the months after there were at least ten similar cases, and also two traceless group diver disappearances. Clearly some inshore fishermen or similar had got tired of official inaction about sport divers taking shellfish and getting in the way, and were taking the law into their own hands when they could. Three of these incidents were at sea by a squad on a small fast ex-naval craft which they had got hold of somewhere and converted into a patroller, and, for the first time but not the last, arrested sport divers saw their equipment summarily vanishing down a destroy hatch.
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The nation's sport divers thought that soon culprits would be found and a few prosecutions aided by sport diving clubs' solicitors would break up this and any other self-appointed action squads and scare the rest off, and put a stop to this threat to their hobby. This happened, when at Aberdaron in Wales a squad raided a divers' camp that proved to be all off-duty riotsquad-trained policemen on a diving holiday, and in court those UKIFA PAG men were sentenced to prison, and afterwards others, and things quietened down, and the sport diving clubs and periodicals celebrated victory. But the arrested men's relatives could not find which prison they had been sent to.

Small dredgers, some of them submersible and with particular special design features, sold surprisingly well, many to customers who did not say who they were. Many saw little use in a dredger-submarine only 30 or 40 feet long, except as an easily-portable demonstration miniature, or for small work in small corners, or to bring up biological or geological samples, but many waterfront groups and bodies bought them. Sometimes they said that they could not afford anything bigger, but some of the real reasons were otherwise, and a few newspaper articles guessed.

The Coast Defence Act was passed, on a general theme of worries about terrorism and need to protect fisheries and valuable submerged wrecks. Scuba diving clubs' lawyers and others picked over its wording and expressed concern. The individuals and committees who they contacted, reassured and rhubarbed and referred findings about while public will to do anything about the matter gradually faded away in a general atmosphere that nothing dangerous would happen, and things continued, among the occasional divers, and the regular divers, and the hard determined enthusiasts, and those who experimented with unusual kit.

We get ready

A naval van came round in the night and picked me up. In it were others who had been picked up. We were taken to a large fenced-off disused docks area, where we met many others who had been picked up. We found who each other were in my unit. There were about 50,000 of us in the whole force at the end of the initial setting-up. Waterfront workmen, out-of-work deepsea and inshore fishermen, ex-naval men, navvy types, nearly always workman types with plenty of muscle hardened to rough conditions and marching about in heavy boots. First a medical checkup. Then we each had a truth-drug-aided interrogation, and as a result of what came out some of us were thrown out as unsuitable before they could learn anything secret.

The interrogation found that three in my group were sport divers; they were discarded without knowing what they had been called up for. We do not take men with a background of sport diving or sport boating, if better can be had: divided loyalties, and sport diving too often causes a pleasure-seeking casual attitude underwater, hard to overwrite with a proper disciplined work attitude. We are not a refuge for men addicted to sport scuba diving who are looking for a legal way to get back to pleasure use of fins and a breathing set.

But I was in, and we were told what we were destined for. Men came in boilersuit-type uniforms that I had not seen before. They told us we were now trainees for a new armed body called the Sea Patrol. That was the first that I saw of the uniform and badge that is now mine, yellow anchor between magenta uppercase letters S P without serifs on blue background, and at each corner a dark spot representing a rivet holding it on. That badge now darkens the dreams and waking life of fuel-wasting pleasure sea users and sea smugglers and shellfish poachers and unauthorized wreck-pickers. The miscelleous variety of civilian clothes that we had come in, were dumped in a skip, and we did not see them again. I put on my issue Sea Patrol underclothes and boilersuit-type uniform and riotsquad helmet and heavy boots. We use a PVC waterproof cap instead of a forage cap:-
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I remember too well the training and the marching and such like, as any army-type recruit can tell, as we were turned from miscellaneous civilians into a hard efficient patrol and control squad. We learned to keep up all day the standard Sea Patrol hard-marching hobnail-booted jogtrot in step. Many civilians think they are fit because they do a little jogging, usually in those soft light shoes called trainers, but they have not tried 40 miles of it in heavy boots and a thick tough boilersuit-type uniform and a heavy packful of kit. There was no concession for those of us who had lived in trainers and took badly to heavy strong stiff boots which made a hobnailed marching noise at every step. Our relatives were told that we were safe, and suchlike, but we were not allowed to communicate out. Some of the trainers were UKIFA men, and it came out that the UKIFA had had secret help from officialdom, and that explained where the UKIFA men arrested after the Aberdaron incident and later had been sent.

And some of the kit was a surprise. One day on the fort's quay one of the trainers showed us a two-handled gun-like tool nearly two feet long. Its body was a 5-inch-diameter cylinder with rounded ends, with a thick barrel a bit over 5 inches long. "Teargas squirter likeliest or something." I thought, "I know one thing that it won't be: it's well enough known why they're impossible in the real world, and never mind that small radioactivity warning sign on it to look scary.".

"Now look at this, all of you!" he said. He picked it up and aimed it up a wall at an old wall plaque that was out of reach for us to remove it without scaffolding. A hot beam came out of the barrel, shown by a luminous track in the air. The plaque came off in a shower of sparks as if blowtorched. It left melted holes in the brickwork. Some of us made surprised noises. He explained: soon before, a Government secret new discovery in laser design had turned rayguns from space story stuff into all too efficient effective reality. They soon became a common personal gun among us.
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Those of us called up in the first pickup were already well toughened by hard work in all weathers in docks or at sea; for those who joined us later, a big part of the toughening process was not repetitive PT or PE exercises but a reproduction of old-type unmechanized waterfront dock work handling goods in all weathers in a thick tough docks issue boilersuit and hobnailed boots with steel toecaps and exposed on one side to sea (including spray blowing in when there was a storm) and climbing in and out and across ships' holds and suchlike aided by a docker's hook. This all day every working day on old-type docks caused so big a toughening effect that one docks carter who routinely had to heave goods on and off his horsedrawn wagon wrote in a book that he had found that his muscle strength had faded somewhat when he came back to his dock work from World War II Army conscription (and in reality: Author). Afterwards, some public accused that our trainers were trying to reproduce the old-type overmuscled general-purpose work-and-weather-toughened waterfront workman-and-thug including his mentality; we know that they are, and we aim to stay that way. Much heavy manual work tends to cause a practical attitude to matters and a tendency to solve problems and get rid of nuisances ourselves, and we were eager for the order to go into action.

Before this, while I still worked on the docks, some of us had let ourselves be guinea-pigs for someone's experiments in what is called "gene therapy". We got a fair amount of money for it. It did not cause any bad effects. It left us (and thus many of our descendants conceived afterwards) permanently immune to cyanide, but the results of that come later.

Another thing about that handy genetic adaptation is this. On the 8th chromosome (excuse the technicalities), people have GULOP, which is the inactive remains of a gene called GULO, which should make an enzyme called L-gulonolactone oxidase, which lets its owner make his own vitamin C, and that includes most mammals including lemurs and bushbabies and pottos. Several important body processes need Vitamin C. But the first true monkeys were eating so much vitamin C in jungle wild fruit that they forgot how to make their own, and all their descendants including tarsiers and apes and people have this genetic defect, which causes scurvy, that great harm to sailors down the centuries. And we go to sea plenty. And our genetic adaptation package also gives us our GULO gene back, and we can't get scurvy, nor can many of our descendants. The rest of us were given this treatment now. And in years after, "... don't need Vitamin C" or "... can't get scurvy", and "immune to cyanide", became an ominous hint that Sea Patrol men were about. And we got the uricase gene back; it makes an enzyme which turns uric acid into allantoin, which dissolves, and the kidneys throw it out easily, and thus we can't get gout.

Another part of this adaptation is about natural anti-infection chemicals called defensins. Humans can make alpha-defensin and beta-defensin. There is a gene DEFT1, which makes theta-defensin, which is a bit of protein with 18 amino-acids in a ring, with three cystine crosslinks, making it into a strong mini-pad, which among other things sticks to any Aids virus that it finds and deactivates it. Early true monkeys developed it; orangutans still have it, but humans and chimps and bonobos and gorillas have lost it, and instead have an inactive remnant called DEFT1P. We were given the active form back. We sometimes have needed it. Not for sexual risks - we do not "do that sort of thing" - but when we raid drug/people/weapons smugglers in scruffy no-go or semi-no-go waterfront areas, there are other hazards that put us at that risk; compare the need that police have to put a spit hood on some prisoners.

In the temporary training base, the kitchen kept chickens and ducks to turn food waste into meat and eggs. There was a pond for the ducks to use. Spring came, and frogs and toads gathered in the pond to breed and make a racket croaking importantly and laying slimy spawn everywhere, as they did for many years before we came there. And the ducks, which were big domestic ducks and not small wild-type park lake ducks, went into action, diving or on the surface, cleaning out the pondweed and whatever lived in it. They routinely easily caught full-sized frogs and toads and quickly shovelled and pumped them down their throats to be dissolved. Sometimes we watched this small-scale version of submersible grab-dredgers at work and, knowing what one of our main purposes was, we thought that ... some day soon, "that overconfident lot'll get a shock" ...

A day came. The Sea Patrol Enabling Order (SPEO) empowering us was issued, as allowed by the Coast Defence Act. In all our bases we were ordered to get ready, but we were not told what for. At all our bases, we set off. A van left me and fifteen others and our kit near Staddon Fort near Plymouth in Devon. And nearby at Fort Bovisand, and all across the country by the sea or inland, sport divers dived and planned their next unproductive pleasure dives, seeing no change to years of doing as they liked. Even so, many have lived in comfort and felt safe, not knowing until too late that a nearby mountain was a volcano.

Into action

We burst in on the noisy comfortable chorus-croaking frog-pond of fuel and metals expensive water sports like the riotsquad breaking up a noisy drug-ridden open-air pop concert. The UKIFA men had retrained with us and they are now part of the Sea Patrol, but we sometimes let them display their old badges. Long-term planning had long been drowned by financial interests and town pressure groups who were hard set on their hobbies above all other things, and knew little of where leisure kit and finance business kit comes from or what it costs the world to make and use it as fossil fuel and metal ores gradually got scarcer. But we have power to override such people. Their solicitors' letters and speeches at business meetings had no more effect on us than most speargun spears have on our kevlar-reinforced uniforms and frogman's drysuits. For them, "the party is over, and the rest of the party food will be made to last as long as possible.". (Some compared our coming to events in an old Greek story where the frogs had been ruled by King Log, who was content to do nothing and be a high place for his subjects to sit on and croak importantly, until the gods sent King Stork, routinely able to stow 15 frogs in his stomach and overnight tracelessly dissolve them all. Or to a recent magazine "Freaky Fables" cartoon (and in reality: Author) where Judge Pelican, called on to settle a noisy dispute between the frogs and the toads, as his verdict quickly scooped up the toads and swallowed them; but next day found the frogs noisily celebrating riddance of the toads and scooped up the frogs also and made the same end of them.)

We were given distinctive Sea Patrol warrant cards to try to prove official status for the inevitable cases where police did not know us and tried to interfere, although we were already well trained and equipped and in a one-to-one fight could get the better of the average street constable; we had do all our early raids ourselves unaided, as we could not let ordinary police know of our plans, as too many of them sport scuba dived and likely would quietly warn as many other sport divers as they could, and we would often have found addresses empty with no sport divers there and diving gear hidden elsewhere. (Later when we were publicly well known, people knew that our Sea Patrol warrant cards were valid and proved our official status, and sport-diving policemen had to join a police diving unit or give up diving or join us, and other police knew to help us if we called on them.) And outside, sport divers still dived and planned and arranged dives.
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In Devon, near Plymouth. An indeterminate motor-type noise from northeast over the high ground of Staddon Heights quickly grew louder, and woke a few of the late-wakers sleeping off the day before's pleasures and lusts of the flesh, as heli-backpacks carried some of us over secure walls and gate and into Fort Bovisand diving and miscellaneous holiday centre's main yard. Two of us blasted the main gate's lock apart and let the rest in; that and our thunderflashes woke the rest. Our uniforms and badges showed them that we were something serious as we ordered everybody to stay in their rooms and not to talk to anyone. People complained about armed forces exercises and stunts messing about, shortening our tempers already. Some thought that we were making a fiction film. People tried to telephone out to check on what was happening, but we had blocked the lines and jammed the mobile phone and CB radio frequency ranges. Someone said he recognized me from the docks where I used to work. More of our men came by land and sea. On the road south of the gate, some early divers on the quay alongside the road ignored us, thinking we were some ordinary police visit, but they soon found otherwise.
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Past the fort gate twenty Sea Patrol men charged out of a lifting-sided personnel carrier. Heavy hobnailed issue boots with steel toecaps ran across the quay's tarmac instead of unfit or half-fit trippers' flimsy city shoes and trainers. More early morning sport divers were batoncharged down and roughly stripped of kit and handcuffed behind their backs. Two of our men wore their old UKIFA uniforms, to show who we supported. We hard riotsquad-trained efficient waterfront thugs under an army-type command were doing a job that twenty years of meetings and duly proposed discussed seconded voted-on minuted motions had failed to do. We aim to stay that way and not become paper-shuffling officials and findings-referring committee men. In Anglo-Saxon times, when a matter was decided by the board, "board" meant a wooden shield in battle, and we think the same, except ours are polycarbonate. A Sea Patrol man with a backpack jetpack with folding wings searched the area from above.
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The BSAC gateman's early morning wake-me-up coffee went flying as I and another burst into the gatehouse. He acted officious, so we dragged him out and beat him up. He cooperated after that. Our commander was right when he chose hard waterfront men first and not procedure-minded types. We took over the gate and let in our men who had come by land or sea. Our commander became the base commander.

People still tried to comunicate out, but could not. Half-fit civilian scoobydoos kitting up for pre-breakfast dives tried to argue with us and waved bits of legalism at us and asked "Oi, do you mind? What sort of stunt is this?" and suchlike. We overpowered them easily. We worked with a will, particularly those with an inshore fishing background, weary of years of sport divers getting in the way and taking stuff, and years of their sons, hopes of their family's hardy seagoing future, being endlessly poached into soft easy jobs ashore, and their daughters marrying office workers ashore and not raising the next generation into a fishing family.
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We knew that other men like us were taking out many other sport diving centres and diving club premises across the country before they could evacuate kit and records. Naval men came with us. This was the first the public or the public media heard of us. The newspapers were told not to scream headlines about it but to describe the events quietly in inside pages; similarly the television and the radio.

Five civilian police were there for something, and tried to arrest a few of us, but we are better trained than them. One of them got part of a radio message away before I knocked the radio out of his hand. We secured the office paperwork and herded everybody found onto the main yard until we could make somewhere to lock them up. We started to match them with the place's holiday centre records, and sort those who were clearly not there for diving from the others. Orders came through the police system telling the police to let us do our work: our command could not tell the area's police earlier because too many of them sport scuba dived and their sympathies would be divided and we could not risk leaks.

We were busy everywhere. We made a start on stripping out and refitting the place from a holiday centre into a hard Sea Patrol base. We had to get the new boat and diving licencing systems set up there and working as soon as possible. In Napoleon's time the place was a naval fort with cannons to keep undesirables out of Plymouth harbour. Underground there is a large and draculous amount of dark tunnels and storerooms intended for storing cannon ammunition safely deep away from enemy shot; we had plenty of use for them to store our heavier kit when lorries brought it from our temporary storage and training bases. Rock-boring drills made stone dust as we fixed heavy prison-type doors that we had brought with us and turned some storerooms into cells.

We gave the non-diving prisoners 20 minutes to go back to their rooms under escort and pack and get into their cars, but we confiscated all mobile phones. Some bleated that they did not have cars but had been relying on buses or taxis. My commander told a personnel carrier to take them to the Staddon Fort road junction where we were setting up our outer checkpoint gate. Some bleated that they could not afford or find replacement beds for x nights until their booked coaches or plane flights left. He told them that that was their problem.

Those who were there for diving were held for questioning, and those who had already dived that morning for trial, and, like others before, they realized with a hard shock that "the free ride is over", and that something that should have been controlled from a long time before was now at last being controlled, despite commercial interests who had ruled the situation for too long already. They shouted angrily and refused to obey us, and tried to wave the law at us and to call lawyers, until we got ready to batoncharge them; then they quietened and obeyed us.

North of the fort on the flat hilltop of Staddon Heights a naval construction squad's heavy excavators loudly blasted diesel exhaust upwards as they rid Staddon Golf Course of bunkers and rough (golf language for sandy hollows and patches of brambly long grass and scrub) and buildings to make a landing field for aircraft. I overheard a sharp walkietalkie message telling someone to "@#$& the tweetybird nest, carry on.". Later, airfield control changed from a man in a tent with a walkietelkie via a Portakabin to a control tower, and someone brought kit to gas out the rabbit warrens to stop rabbits from damaging the airfield; and rabbit droppings attract mice, which attract owls, which cause birdstrike risk for aircraft.

We sorted through the boats moored below the wall to choose which to use as temporary patrollers until more proper patrol boats came. After a week we called a naval scrap-carrier craft and loaded on it all the civilian cars that were still there that were no use to us; some of the cars we converted into small mobile cranes and suchlike.

The base is reached by dead-end lanes without villages from the nearest through road, and only we and a few farm men needed running entry permits to pass our outer entry gate at the lane-junction at Staddon Fort. It is handily across the estuary from Plymouth navy base. Our base perimeter includes the Bovisand Lodge valley bottom, and we sealed the long entry lane from Staddiscombe. South of Bovisand Lodge the base area includes the north slope of Madam's Hill, which is first in our list of names to be changed when a Sea Patrol man does something worthy of being commemorated in a placename.

The big cleanout went on. We had taken over assorted buildings: the fort, blocks of new bedrooms nearby higher up the fort hill, caravans, chalets, scattered farm buildings, and a strip of holiday lettings along the shore south of Bovisand Bay. We cleared at least 15 skiploads of civilian luggage type junk out of them so they could be used as temporary barracks, until we could replace the less suitable of them later with purpose-built barracks.

We processed seven tons of sport diving gear that we found there, which had been visitors' property and for staff use and for sale. What was of types authorizable as Sea Patrol frogman issue and in good condition, was kept, and of the rest, the cylinders and lead went in scrap skips and the rest vanished into the base's boiler furnace, summarily without time wasted getting a court order for each shovelful. In the offices, several tons of the diving centre's paperwork had to be taken to a secure area to be sorted to look for evidence and the starts of "papertrails" leading to whoever might have diving gear with or without wanting to furtively keep using it or to teach people how to use it.

Of the prisoners, those who were found in land clothes in possession of diving gear were thoroughly questioned and then let go without their diving gear and anything diving-related. Those who we found wearing diving gear were charged and tried by the base commander under the new diving control laws, which had become active at midnight that night. Most were fined heavily. Five who went obstreperous or refused to recognize the court were sent to prison. Anything to do with diving on them was seized. But the staff and visitors involved in the diving explosives training courses which the place ran before we took over, were held for detailed investigation.

Those that we released there found soon that we had not only taken out Fort Bovisand. It was similar at many places. At Ellesmere Port in Cheshire we cleaned out BSAC national headquarters and efficiently destroyed the central command of the sport diving organizations in Britain. A narrow sharp-cornered approach road and the usual clutter of parked cars did not help us. We restricted nearby private address residents to their back rooms. We ordered the nearby canal boat museum to shut its gate and its staff and visitors to stay inside away from facing windows until we were finished. Meanwhile an issue oxyhydrogen blowtorch with backpack cylinders made a quick end of the building's front door lock, and we went in. Its burglar alarm racketed until one of us quietened it. Three men bolted down a fire escape and found it guarded. We arrested all found in there and marched them at our pace to our prisoner transport. Beside the building's door we excavator-shoveled a car aside to make room for a transportable incinerator, but could do nothing right then about a pillared car shelter and a large solid brick dustbin enclosure hindering large vehicle access. Then a long cleanout job and search for hidden rooms and spaces. The paperwork seized there told Sea Patrol command plenty about where to look for the country's stock of sport scoobydoo gear. In the same area there was a large sport scuba gear shop to clean out: we sorted out cylinders and weights and other large unburnables, and anything of use to us, and piled the rest on the boat museum car park, where one of our issue backpack propane flamethrowers finished the job.
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When we were finished arresting and searching, we left a force to occupy the office, and it is now, altered and enlarged, the office of BADLA, Breathing Apparatus Diving Licencing Authority, and of NADU, the part-time Naval Auxiliary Diving Units. The shop is now a private house.

That day we took out as many diving gear shops and diving centres as we could get to, and places where diving clubs kept quantities of gear. By the evening, the alarm had spread well, but we caught many diving clubs open, among those who met that day of the week. Then the angry protests started, and we got ready to ride it out until it finished.

The background

This had been planned as our part of trying to stop unnecessary fuel and resources usage for pleasure as the world's supply steadily gets less:-

In early planning meetings about how to put all diving in Britain under a use-and-possession licencing system and authorized instructors like with firearms and motor vehicles and explosives, some suggested ordering all independent clubs to join the BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club), and putting the BSAC under official control (perhaps renamed) as the controlling office for diving, since the BSAC had run scuba diving in Britain since 1953. After that, the number and size of branches could be gradually trimmed down. But during this there was too much risk that branches would try to stay free and hide their records and club equipment instead of handing them over.

After that, perhaps: order a specified set of diving gear to be used on club dives and no other; harder retraining and better fitness required, and the rejects ordered out; then: compulsory attendance at dives if listed, including a yearly fulltime diving training period; no non-diving members; no unscheduled private dives without club committee permission; branch committee members appointed from above and not elected; rename the branches as units; replace "member" by an armed-forces-type rank name and "club" by (say) "corps"; routine liaison with the Navy; no alcohol-ridden socializing; no non-diving members; no non-member people (including family) to go with the unit on dives; uniforms and saluting and parade; thus the process of the Navy digesting the BSAC and making it (renamed) into a part-time naval diving section, which later could be trimmed down to what national diving effort was needed for work.

But there was no need to do that to more than were needed as standby divers. And a matter of background and mentality: the stated aim of the BSAC and similar was to "promote" sport diving, resulting in far too many divers, often very experienced, but pleasure-minded and undisciplined, an attitude which naval diving instructors found often hard to overwrite with doing a job and coming back and not getting distracted by pretty fish and suchlike or to take unordered photographs. And they by habit sought out good underwater visibility and got little or no experience in cold weather and dark water. Naval diving bodies already knew what replacing pleasure diving attitude by work diving attitude was like, when a Clearance Diver or frogman entrant proved to already have BSAC diving qualifications.

Often a diving club's committee, instead of leading the club on dives and ordering "no unofficial diving", acted as a special "inner group" and went separately on deep dives in remote deep water, while rank-and-file members went off on splinter group dives with none of the most experienced club members. In one university's diving club, university staff in the club persistently organized expensive club dives that students could not afford, so the students, being a voting majority, decided to allow only academic staff to join, not other staff; after that, most members were in the club no longer than a university course lasts, plus sometimes time as a postgraduate, and there was too little continued long-term experience in the club.

Meanwhile we were needed to stop unauthorized and unplanned diving, and that needed enough reliable trained men chosen with no risk of favouring sport divers. We knew what sort of men to call up, and office-minded weekend sport divers were not the place to look for them. In former centuries, far more of the population were heavy manual workers, and people lived nearer to practicality. The longer it took to reorganize all that miscellaneous lot of pleasure divers and change their training system, the more likely it would be for public pressure and fear of unwelcome results at elections to make authority call us off and leave matters as before. Thus our first commanders conscripted enough men where they chose, trained them, chose a date, and cleared most of the sport diving setup away. Among that lot was much (too much) useful diving experience and small-boat experience, but we had to retrain and redirect such of it as we could use, same as often a retired racehorse, which had been trained largely to "bolt on command", has to be re-broken-in when retrained as an ordinary riding horse.

Long before we started, conflict had developed between sport divers and inshore shellfish fishermen and caused wide hostility, with allegations of shellfish taking and getting in the way in ports and on beaches. This prompted the BSAC to try to stop their members from taking crabs and lobsters while diving. Vigilante anti-diver action by sea-hardened inshore fishermen suffering from diver nuisance often ended in court facing expensive solicitors called by sport divers or who themselves sport dived; many such work fishermen (we do not use the word to mean spare-time pleasure anglers) were called up into us when we started or joined us later and easily became good hard efficient action men against unauthorized or suspect divers on land or in boats or underwater. Some inshore fishermen had seen no recourse except to use the other side's kit and learn to scuba dive via the sport diving system; some such later helped to form UKIFA or joined us; teaching them to scuba dive tends to result in fishermen in diving gear with their minds as before and as we needed them to be, and did not turn them overnight into supporters of sport diving, despite the hopes of some sport divers.

Sometimes sport divers were of use: for example, an inshore trawler caught a boulder in its net, and could drag it about but not haul it alongside or aboard, and had to call on some passing sport divers for help; they cut the net and told the trawler's crew which way to motor to pull the net off the boulder via the cut, while one of the divers wrapped himself round the net to keep its catch in; some of the other divers went onboard and helped to hand-haul the net still in all their diving gear, as its power-hauler could not be used. (And in reality: Author)

After the first day

News of the first wave of raids spread, with alarm and shock, and angry defiant demonstrations continued, and newspaper articles and television programs demanding continued public access to the undersea, while we and our command ignored the fuss and hard efficiently got on with the job and steadily systematically arrested and seized except as needed for work and the armed forces. In Britain the BSAC had about 1100 sport diving club branches including "special branches" (a branch whose members must all be a member also of some particular other organization), and there were smaller groups and separate clubs and miscellanea, and they met on different days of the week, and not every member attended every meeting. Many clubs went into hiding and cancelled their meetings and waited for events to blow over, and much of their diving gear was not at club meeting addresses but scattered at thousands of members' homes, and we could not take them all out on one day. We had home addresses of many club committee members, many of which we took out and searched for diving gear and member lists. A big job, but we finished it. We set up amnesty points for public to hand over unauthorized diving gear and boats.

Scallop divers and crayfish divers had multiplied in waters where inshore fishermen had potted for generations as local men got old and their sons got easier jobs on land - in the old days sons followed their fathers to sea as soon as they could handle kit, but longer and longer compulsory education made them more and more office and desk minded - and sometimes such new work divers themselves had nuisance from sport divers getting in their way in port and under their work boat, and long periods of risk at sea and hard physical work changed their mentality, and they were thankful for us coming, and were licenced as work divers, and many of them were suitable to join us as patrolmen. They and salvagers and suchlike were given temporary running diving permits until they could be re-equipped with standard kit and uniforms, and re-trained to lose careless diving practices, and ordered to help us if called out; we ordered them to log all dives.

Members of police and armed forces bases "special" BSAC branches were added to their unit's diving action branch and re-trained to try to give them a work attitude to being underwater, or later joined us. We got our diving instructors from the Navy or combat frogmen units, or later from our men trained by them to instructor standard; BSAC trainers proved to often be very proficient, but they tended to preferred clear easy water, and we often have to dive in currents and low visibility and cold water and under ice when most sport divers stay by the fireside and watch self-shot videos of dives, which we cannot do; some of them adapted and became reliable at training Sea Patrol divers.

Some planned to keep the BSAC in some reduced form; but we are ordered to trim down diving and boat use to what is necessary and stop pleasure use of resources, and the BSAC's aim was to increase it. We replaced the BSAC's central authority by naval men, but kept some of its branches, converted as quickly as could be into part-time naval-type diving units, with uniforms, and drill, and compulsory attendance, and army-style fitness, and no diving except as ordered, and no more members than needed, and all gear to be kept at the unit's base.

Public protested and wanted freedom and plenty for all; but behind this waits what the author Charles Kingsley called "the good old birch rod", as he named inevitable natural forces that will bring disaster that tells everybody too late that a previous course of action or inaction should have been stopped long before; and through this we kept on arresting unauthorized divers and seizing diving gear as the hard enthusiast types kept on diving regardless when and where they could.

Before we came, patrol and control at sea, except where the navy was needed, was split between harbourmasters' men and coastguards' men and fisheries patrols and harbour police and suchlike, and unofficial groups, and often, one of these was only allowed to patrol in such an area, and another was only allowed to act against one sort of sea user, and another was not allowed to arrest or charge or seize kit, or was limited to what they or their kit could do, and suchlike; but they are now part of us and all one force and much more effective and hard with more powers. Stopping work-and-fuel-wasting pleasure boating and pleasure breathing-set diving released a huge amount of national work effort done at ports and marinas and elsewhere, including expensively rescuing weekend Columbuses and weekend Cousteaus who got into difficulties, that now helps to maintain us. For example, we have stopped an astonishing amount of drug and immigrant smuggling; pleasure boaters and sport divers could not do that.

Incorporating and digesting the rescue lifeboat service was fairly easy in countries that imitated us where the lifeboatmen were fulltime and paid for by an official body; as fast as the lifeboatmen could each be spared from his post for a while, they were put through full Sea Patrol trainee training and got our uniforms and kit, after for each the usual initial check-up, and their boats got Sea Patrol badges and identity numbers; and after pleasure boating and pleasure diving were stopped, far fewer rescues arose that needed lifeboat or helicopter; and their men have useful seagoing skills. But in some countries including Britain the rescue lifeboats ran on public charity donations and lifeboatmen were part-time and for each call were called away from civilian jobs (sometimes causing difficulties for employers or customers or business contactees, and delay while they left home or job or shopping or whatever and reached their boats and kitted up) - and the Sea Patrol has no place for part-timers. There, we gave them a time for each lifeboatman to chose which of two masters to serve: a civilian job or fulltime at sea. Then the deadline came and those that chose us became part of us and trained with us, and their facilities became ours and got our badges, and they and the rest of us do the sea rescuing that arises. Many of them who came from an inshore fishing background or similar were very willing to act as hard as the rest of us against unauthorized sport divers, now that the law had changed; and they taught us much about rescuing. Fast lifeboat technology has much improved our patrol-and-arrest craft.

Some of the lifeboatmen who had not joined us, or were excluded for reasons such as fitness or age or being sport divers, got hold of other boats and tried to keep up a part-time call-out lifeboat service as they could; we let them, to save us the work, but we keep close watch on them as on all authorized seagoing boat users.

We settle in

That is the situation that we work in. We keep order at sea. Stopping unnecessary car use on land, we leave to the onshore authorities. But what many people know us for mostly is the collision between us and a massive well-organized sport diving and sport boating set-up which was running with no sort of licencing or law or official logging. The public had several hard lessons in what is needed for survival of the public and what is not as the Sea Patrol shoveled up the massive over-financed demonstrative sport diving organizations and stowed them struggling in its dredgings tank and reprocessed them, as a pond-dredging duck dredges out and swallows a large struggling frog and pumps it down to be dissolved in its onboard destructor; long bony legs with natural swimfins for feet wave about round the edges of the duck's mouth until they vanish down its throat and the frog is dissolved bones and all. Sport diving squirmed hard as it was caught and swallowed, but it has gone. People tried to swamp us with numbers. Sport divers made many demonstrations on land, and the riot police routinely broke them up, or we did if we were near.
Click here for image. A big march, some in scuba gear, demonstrating against the new diving control laws, hoping for public sympathy.
Click here for image. The Sea Patrol has other ideas about the right to demonstrate.
Click here for image. They charge in flying wedge formation. A multi-shot teargas-grenade-gun does its job. Their thick tough boilersuit-type unifoms and PASGT helmets protect them solidly.
Click here for image. Something ahead has stopped the march :: traffic lights and crossing traffic are as good as any other way.
Click here for image. The squad comes on.
Click here for image. They break through. The same happens at several places along the demonstration, chopping it into segments.
Click here for image. The wedge splits into two lines, pushing the gap wider and pushing people down. The best kit and training after a rough hard-working waterfront upbringing outside in all weathers make the difference.
Click here for image. The challenge to authority stops quickly. The squad men start to tackle and detain as many of the demonstators as they can.
Click here for image. An amphibious truck comes, carrying an incinerator to destroy seized unauthorized breathing sets and other diving gear on-site. A hard electric shock sent down a laser's ionized track ("electrolaser") stops fleeing demonstrators.
Click here for image. The electrolaser does its job as the Sea Patrol men tackle the demonstrators in detail and secure all they can of them.
Click here for image. 19 arrested there :: 18 demonstrators, and the innkeeper who unwisely came out :: not a good idea to interrupt the Sea Patrol to ask them how long they are likely to be. Placards and unauthorized scuba gear are collected for destruction.
Click here for image. Cleanup after, and similar elsewhere. The arrested are taken away in personnel carriers.

The work continued of digesting some BSAC branches and turning them into units of an auxiliary part-time naval diving branch, under full naval discipline and control, and many tried to join it, and some of those who were suitable were let in.

Public protests arose from many quarters, saying that the Sea Patrol and its aims had been planned by a small group of patrol-and-control-and-security-minded men and naval-type groups without wider consultation; but the wider it was known of, and the more people and groups involved in it, the longer discussion would have dragged on, and more and more groups and issues brought in, and more risk of a leak to the public media, and a big public row, and assorted interest groups wanting to be heard, and the effort trails off into nothing. But the matter was kept tight and compact, and the start of the job has been done quickly and efficiently before the noise started. People go on about "what a beautiful experience it is swimming about underwater with an air supply" and suchlike; to us that is not the right attitude to diving; to us, diving is for work.

Marine biology groups protested, and we issue licences for research diving. Scuba tourism firms and individuals protested, and we ordered them to close down and surrender their equipment by a set date. Police divers and salvage divers are necessary and got licences. Someone told us that police divers in Britain started when a policeman who was a sport diver, needing to recover a body or evidence from underwater, did not use a drag, but went home and brought his scuba gear; and often they called on sport divers for help in underwater searches. People told us that this and several other sorts of useful diving were started by sport divers; but there is now a good setup of police diving teams and the new auxiliary part-time naval diving branch can provide an outlet for some suitable people determined to dive. Self-declared special cases wanting to be allowed to keep on diving, appeared and appealed endlessly. One of these was "diving for the disabled" groups; Sea Patrol command after doubt and much persuasion classed this as a "necessary medical use" and put all such groups under a top control controlled by us; but keeping such groups caused too any complications and extra work; and such dives seemed to need surprisingly many fit underwater attendants, and after five months we cancelled all their permits.

Sport divers planned a big demonstratory dive-in at Torbay in Devon with over a thousand divers in the water in one place. We let them come, and then helped by naval men surrounded them by land and sea before most of the demonstrators could dive. As we batoncharged, our issue boots supported our ankles and stopped foot slipping as we ran over rough ground and strewn sport diving gear. My flying bodyweight behind my left boot's hobnails came down on a sport diving regulator second-stage and crushed it against rock and trod firm and did not turn my ankle or slip and bring me down. At the next step my right boot's heel-iron broke a stab-jacket's hard backplate. The navy and docks men worked with a will, seeing a chance to get clear use of their sea back after many years of having to work round intruding uncontrolled random civilians. Then we front-loader shoveled 25 tons of seized unauthorized civilian diving gear onto lorries and dumped it in our destruction compound at Fort Bovisand.
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We let go those of them that could certainly prove their names and addresses, minus anything connected to diving that we found on them. The rest were held for trial.

Breathing set diving is now back at last in its proper role as work and for the armed forces. It was too long since 1953 when a National Geographical Society magazine article about Cousteau, and in French-speaking countries a film by Cousteau, started the public wanting scuba gear, and diving gear makers got in first before anyone could pass laws about it. Never did Cousteau make it clear at meetings or in books that he owned the patent on the first type of aqualung and so stood to line his pocket for every aqualung sold. Although Cousteau and his first several associates were French naval men and should have known better. At least in Britain Siebe Gorman the diving gear makers kept aqualungs scarce and expensive as long as they could and kept rebreathers away from the public. Laws about sending money out of the country kept foreign-made kit out of British sport gear shops. But that was about as far as it went. The sport divers soon bypassed it with converted Calor bottled butane gas regulators and ex-RAF pilots' oxygen cylinders. After a while Calor redesigned their butane regulators and that stopped that unsafe conversion. But it was too late and a firm in Hexham in Northumberland designed round the Cousteau-Gagnan patent. The Navy should and would have requisitioned the patent, but the firm patented it as an industrial breathing set and the Navy's patents checker did not notice it; the sets got into the shops and time passed and sport diving got big; and by 1964 the Cousteau-Gagnan demand regulator patent had run out and anyone could copy it.

Our kit

A warning to people who still hope to swamp us with numbers and make us a dead-letter and get back to dive-as-you-like. We have more and much better kit and training than you.
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We coordinate well with the other official sea users.
We use these: an old design revived with improvements such as a transparent streamlining cover. The front end is not a ship-sinking bomb here but a cargo and equipment carrier.
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We have experimented with different sorts of issue baton.
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This is a job that we would not have had to do if back in the 1950's the world's governments had put breathing set diving under a proper naval / industrial inspectorate and control. Also scuba cylinders: as far as the Sea Patrol is concerned, compressed gas cylinders are a sort of explosive and should have been put under explosive-type controls from the start. It was acceptable when firemen could expect only factories and workshops and garages to be likely to have cylinders on the premises; but widespread uncontrolled sport diving changed that.

Early incidents

We knew we would be busy with Easter coming bringing the country's sport divers out of hibernation. And nothing was helped by an incident in Bretonside (a street in Plymouth). Four policemen saw a Sea Patrol man who seemed to be alone and off-duty.
"Grab that `seep'! He's wanted for assault on divers before that law of theirs came out.". (That slang name for us had already got about.)
They jumped on him, but he got a radio alarm out. "You never let us in your base, but you aren't above the civilian law any more than soldiers are in peacetime." one of the police said angrily, "Bloody new bunch throwing your weight around. Assault on divers, theft of kit. You were only a fisherman then, never mind `UKIFA' on your oilskin. Unless your fancy Enabling Law is retrospective.".
More Sea Patrol men came to help him, then more police. It ended in a standoff and phone calls between Fort Bovisand and Plymouth central police station, and then between both places and Westminster. No more such incidents happened.

Inshore fishermen complaining about shellfish poaching soon found work for us. One lot of `weekend Cousteaus' soon found the hard way that we can fly, with backpack helicopter motor-and-rotor sets from boat to shore to land behind them to stop them escaping inland with their gear. They did not resist or hide stuff as we arrested them. But it was a remote site and we had to leave the seized kit while we searched the area, so a Sea Patrol issue backpack oxyacetylene torch and propane flamethrowers put the junk out of further use while a man flew up to reconnoitre.
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There we found another thing that we were set up to stop. So many people had dived for pleasure that people tended not to notice three divers taking a waterproof chest out to a boat on a 'chariot' made in a backstreet workshop, not thinking to query why the load was not taken overtly and faster on the surface or loaded in a public port.
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Easter by the seaside

By now we were well known of via the newspapers and television news, but people still thought that we would go away or slacken off after a while. The busy time came. I set off with the rest when the first order came in. I had a heli-backpack, and a new issue weapon: an electromagetic-powered gun that fires 4-inch nails, point first and spinning: refill from a hardware store, recharge from the electricity mains, does not need specialized ammunition. The squad attacked. Another fortnight's camping getting in the way in the sea and taking stuff ended on its first night. This diver's camp was big and demonstratory as a challenge to the new laws with many placards and speeches wanting the old conditions restored.
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"#34 go after them that's doin' a runner while we destroy this lot in case they double back for it while we're chasin' 'em." the sergeant ordered one of our helibackpack men.
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Nearby, a bunch of illegals were 'sorted out' by a callout squad of dockers and lightermen riotsquad-equipped by a waterfront factory which had its own idea of design for a riotsquad helmet, which solidly protected their faces as the hard efficient trained waterfront thugs batonchanged across the sport divers' camp from both sides through a barrage of thrown objects, trapping its occupants. Heavy hobnailed work boots with steel toecaps and steel insteps trampled down tents and crushed kit items. It did not take long to make the half-trained city types abandon their gear and run. Soon all were caught and handcuffed, and the searching and seizing and beating-up started. The men worked with a will, after years of public getting in their way at work. Later we put them through our training and listed them as an authorized port security force.
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As we loaded up prisoners, on the beach my backpack oxyhydrogen blowtorch quickly melted out the mechanisms of all the unauthorized sport scuba diver's breathing sets. The fanciful, and sometimes sexy, decorations on the cylinders did not distract me as my hot oxyhydrogen flame seared through yet another confiscated aqualung's regulator. Its owner protested angrily and acted upset and tried to call a solicitor, while I got on with the job.
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Some of the sport divers tried to draw us away while others recovered equipment, but too late. There is no point in the Sea Patrol keeping much of it for official use, as we already have so much of it and this sport-type equipment is of so many incompatible types. We emptied all cylinders, sorted out big unburnables such as cylinders and weights, shoveled and forked the scoobydoo kit and camping kit into a heap, which one of us burnt with a propane flamethrower.
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Back at base we set to work converting some sorts of the sport scuba sets to industrial breathing sets. Underwater extras such as second regulators and weight pouches of no use on land went straight into the burn skip. The regulators were fitted into on-land-type fullface masks with curved faceplates, or converted gasmasks; both were adapted not to work at more than a few feet depth of water pressure. For use out of water we replaced the inefficient scooby cylinder strap-clamp by two strong metal screwed band-clamps. I started on the first. Its diving harness with its bulky built-in lifejacket, usually known as a stab-jacket, which would block access to work garment pockets, was cut down with heavy hand-held shears down to strips as shoulder straps and a cross-strap as a plain strap harness, in that case causing a two-colored effect. The next that I handled was a "wings"; this was easy: following instructions I removed the flotation bags and threw them into the burn skip. ("Stab" here started as short for "stabilizer", a confusing name that sport diving developed, as it may confuse with protective strong waistcoats to protect against knife stabbing.)
Click here for image. (Workmen with industrial breathing sets made out of seized sport scuba sets.)
The next was another stab-jacket, but with internal full harness straps separate from the bag, which made the job easier. All cut edges were heat-sealed to stop the woven nylon from fraying. (Soon after, we were told to sort out and leave intact all stab-jackets of a particular make, as a special group had a special conversion use for them.)

Small fast craft have their uses. In a cove was another group who had ignored the amnesty period to surrender all unauthorized diving gear; they learned better when their next diving season started.
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"Oi you, drop that camera and 'oppit!" I ordered a nosy bystander as I was throwing seized gear into our dumper; later back at base we found this picture in his camera.
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Nearby ten more had chanced it, but we caught them, and their kit was soon on its way to join the rest on the way to our destructor.
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Another carful came late and found a Sea Patrol squad in camouflage uniforms cleaning up after arresting the rest of their club at their favourite dive site; one look at the squad's propane flamethrower and 5-shot teargas grenade gun was enough, and the carful backed away and left; we called the ordinary police, who now knew who we were, and stopped the carful a few miles away and arrested them and seized their diving gear for "no licence to possess breathing apparatus diving equipment".
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In the middle of this, three authorized work divers chose a not very suitable time to carry on as usual. Our men recognized them in time, and an ultrasound gun on low power activated their licenced issue sonar-transponders. "Uhh, it's that three from the ferry firm checking and mending their moorings. Leave them.". We advised them to go back on land as soon as they could until the next day.
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One of our helibackpack-men spotted and reported another lot nearby; command sent a helicopter to the scene.
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Some sport diving clubs had an inflated idea of their importance. "This lot of weekend bubble-blowers won't rule any waves from now on." its pilot said as he reported it and gave a description. This view has shown many sport divers that they will not dive again. Our base office said "They've got a research permit.". But one of us checked up on them anyway, and we found what we found.
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We escorted them to a nearby beach for pickup. Onshore, one of them suddenly pulled a loaded speargun out, but our issue weapons and training decided the matter as usual as our squad-leader's Mossberg Mariner pump-action shotgun (patrol issue with a pistol grip and no butt) decided the matter. The rest of them dropped assorted weapons and tools and came quietly.
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While flying away from that, we saw a large cabin cruiser going along the coast. We caught up with it. It turned and dodged, but I kept up with it and shot a window out, and another man fired a teargas grenade in, and the boat stopped. We boarded it.
"Oi, do you mind?" one of its crew said between coughing, "I'm taking some important business clients to Exeter and discussing business as we go.".
"What's the matter with the bus and the train?".
"They're always full, and we need somewhere private.".
"What business is it about?" I ordered the important-looking city-suited man.
"I'm not at liberty to say.".
"You will say.".
"I'm stlll not at liberty to say.".
"Liberty #@$%. Your business, all of it, or we arrest you for disobeying us.".
"OK, OK, here's a spare copy of the documents. %&$# `seeps', newest bunch of uniforms along ordering everybody about. We weren't diving, if that's what you were after." he said, handing me an enormous bagful of papers.
By then a smell and a litter of glasses and bottles had showed us enough. "You'd have been a long time getting through all those papers in the state you're in. We'll have a blood or urine sample off everybody, now." one of us said, pulling out an automatic pistol-syringe and setting it to suction mode. Those common `natural function' words have an ominous sound to someone who has a licence that he does not want to lose.
"Oh, now I can't entertain clients to their satisfaction, it seems.", he said, and started on a long business speech and lecture on business manners to try to impress on us how world-vital his journey was. His voice got more slurred as adrenalin from the chase faded away. He shut up when I unslung my nailgun and set its power and fired a 4-inch nail into the shiny cockpit lining near the dashboard.
"Right, you're all under arrest, trying to evade Sea Patrol, being uncooperative, drunk in charge of a craft at sea, boat use not for authorized work. The law says you stay all hands sober at sea, all hands, not just the man steering. Entertain business clients on land. If your business is as important as you say, you shouldn't be drunk in charge of it." I ordered. We handcuffed all found on board and shoved them in the back. One of us drove it to Portland Sea Patrol base, whose commander tried the prisoners and seized their boat, and told their work bosses that they were found drunk on duty.

Later that day we surprised and arrested more unauthorized sport divers as efficiently as usual on a beach. Originally designed as a light skintight spacesuit, this new protective gear has proved useful on the ground, such as when suspects resist arrest and there is a risk of being pushed into deep water or being exposed to fire or chemicals.
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In a Sea Patrol base

In our base they were marched out of the prisoner-transport and shoved into cells still in their wetsuits.
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They realized that the order of things at sea had changed, as they watched Sea Patrol men sorting out the cylinders and weights and other large unburnables and steadily shovelling all the rest of their club expedition's diving gear into a transportable incinerator.
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The message sank in. Diving is work. Diving gear is work kit. Not for messing about in for pleasure any more. The same for boats and cars and anything else that uses up fuel or raw materials.
"This is no good," a prisoner said. "having to sit in my wet wetsuit handcuffed in this draughty cell watching a Sea Patrol heavy steadily stoker-shovelling all our diving gear into that incinerator, and the diesel exhaust smell from that dumper which brought it all here. And where's my car?".
"Silence in the cells." the stoker ordered without turning round, "You should have thought of that before deciding not to apply for a diving permit. You'll get your car back if the commandant says so when he tries you lot.".
"But I need it for business. And my mobile phone's in it, I need it to contact my solicitor.".
"If you mean carrying yourself and a bunch of papers around, that's what the bus and the train are for. Silence, or disobeying an order goes on your charge list. And you're not contacting anybody. Commandant'll try you lot right here today while everybody's memories are fresh. Your pet solicitor won't be able to lock-pick through everything that's done to protect men's livelihoods any more: the law's been changed. And we won't have men taken off patrol to have to go miles inland as court witnesses any more." the stoker said as another many-colored shovelful, this time three wetsuits and two stab-jackets with attached regulators and a fin and a mask, vanished behind the closing sliding furnace door.

During this, an auto-alarm sounded from the sea. Two daring or foolhardy scuba divers from the same club had come by sea and ventured onto sand near our base's quay to nose around and if possible get their inflatable back. No civilians were looking, so two Sea Patrol men's new issue rayguns made sure that the boast on the inflatable was not true any more. The new weapon showed its effectiveness.
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Meanwhile the stoker finished and the suspects in the cells watched the incinerator which had destroyed their diving gear being craned onto a low-loader and taken away to the next place it was needed. Soon after, the squad came back from the alarm on the base's quay and soon found out everything they wanted to know.
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After this, truth drug soon extracted everything that the other arrested men knew.
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But many sport divers realized in time that their hobby has been stopped. Many of them had been here many times when this same place had been a popular sport diving centre, before the Sea Patrol requisitioned it. As said one of a group who came in a white unmarked van: "Here's goodbye to £4500's worth including my eldest's birthday present, and we've only had four uses out of it, thanks to you lot and that new diving control law that you lot got brought in with no warning. And we bought it right here, before you load of authoritarian waterfront and navy types marched in and took this place over and didn't let the staff take anything away with them, not even their hats and coats and packed lunches.". I remembered my squad leader saying at the time: "Last day of the amnesty, but the load coming in isn't getting much less, commander may have to extend it - all these civvies round our base, I'll be glad when it's over - it was overdue time they put proper controls on who has what and uses what and what for - order came in to save apart all stab-jacket inflation cylinders, they didn't say what for - hurry up all their weepy goodbyes to favourite kit - back before 1960 they should have put breathing set diving under a naval/industrial control as soon as civilians started "playing at frogmen" - stuff strewn about, untidy people too quick to dump and run, they don't like being in here - too busy sorting and stoking to go round with a wheelbarrow and a shovel - that red Volkswagen Golf's [driver has] left his car to barrow stuff in with his own barrow, blocked the queue - some time they'll realise that "the party's over" ..."
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But the big amnesty kit-handing-in period was got through. Back to the present. I checked my issue backpack oxyhydrogen blowtorch's gas pressures. Since the Sea Patrol was established, that handy take-it-anywhere gear-destroyer has reduced at least twenty surrendered boat trailers to pieces small enough for the metals skip and put hundreds of unauthorized cylinders and regulators beyond repair on remote sites before people could recover the kit before we could come back and load it and take it away.
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Much of the gear had been bought in the same place, when the place's dock sheltered diving day boats and liveaboards and not patrol boats and a variety of diver-catcher craft. Regardless of that, the next step was the shovelling out and sorting,
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and then the shovelling in. A man in the new Sea Patrol protective suit passed at a hard steady run.
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As we processed the results of these arrests, it got dark. A man in a backstreet-workshop-made amphibious power armour prowled around our base's quay, planning to be the sport divers' new defender against us. But such superhero-type methods tend not to work for long in the real world, and soon a night guard routinely disposed of him .
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Meanwhile, eight divers in an inflatable got lost in currents after an unauthorized and unadvisable night dive. They chose the wrong landing to come into, with their A-frame light switched off, which to some points to a guilty conscience. A Sea Patrol squad's helmet lights showed what radar and sonars had already seen.
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The base commandant saw from his records that they, and those arrested earlier, had been caught at it once too often, and taking wreck and shellfish added to it, and had got replacement diving gear and carried on. The demonstratory remarks on their diving suits did not help them in the end. As they wondered what was to happen to them, they realized that the nakedly industrial look of the Sea Patrol men's new guns was likely to match the men's mentality. A large compressed-gas cylinder mounted openly on top showed that they were pneumatic, and an old certainty was gone: those guns would not need specialised explosive-powered ammunition whose supply could be easily controlled, and any gun bang would be much quieter even without a silencer [USA: muffler]. Usually (for example, as at this link, there with its butt folded forwards) pneumatic rifles are made with the propellant cylinder small and hidden inside (sometimes in the butt), to keep an ordinary rifle style, thus much cutting down the total stored power, but not with ours, and style had gone where diving as a sport had gone. The join between barrel and body was a shape that they had seen before only on the USA M3 submachine gun and on hypodermic syringes. No gunflash to show when shooting at night. They were far more powerful than the common coil-spring-loaded piston-pump-powered air rifle. The back end of the cylindrical body holds the mechanism and the rest holds the magazine (which has a tunnel through for the barrel), holding only bullets, and not space-occupying explosive propellant. The guns had been made at the base, by practical-minded waterfront types accustomed to such jobs as making parts to mend dock machinery. A group of men in frogman's kit with fins that hinged up for walking easier on land and backstreet-workshop-made nitrox rebreathers came out of a hut.
"This is a group that we're training for another port authority. No harm letting you bunch know, you'll soon know why." said the commandant.
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"We're Bristol's new underwater work and port security squad, if you want to know. Stand over there." one of them ordered the prisoners, and pointed.
The commander ordered, and eight of his men marched out of a hut and stood facing the prisoners and set their rifles' power control.
"You made that diving hard-squad's rebreathers out of my mates' valuable Buddy Commando stabjackets that you took last time - I know the scuff marks on three of them! Our diving club's committee would never have allowed that sort of home-workshop hackup conversion! - gasmasks made into fullface masks - breathing in and out of the stab-bag, you should have kept it for flotation and added another bag for breathing - " one of the prisoners said angrily. The stab-jacket's bag was so big that it was divided by sewing into left and right bags, making a double-bag circulation in the resulting rebreather: lungs to left bag to absorbent to right bag to lungs, and the technicalities of making sure that the set works as intended in all attitudes. (This is not the same as using a stab-jacket as the harness of a rebreather which has its own breathing bag inside its backpack casing.)
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"And that's my mates' stab[-jacket inflation] cylinders on those guns!, still with A.P.Valves's chrome and black on them ...", he continued, but the commander gave orders.
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The pneumatic rifles made much less bang noise than ordinary rifles to be heard outside their base as a short-auto-mode burst of 3 bullets at once from each (cast from seized diving weights), aiming parallel each at one of the targets, efficiently did the job.

The first (Mk.1) pneumatic rifle design that came to us has a straight cylinder:
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Small design changes followed including a stock 1.9 inches longer (in the Mk.2 stage), but we had so many A.P.Diving stab-jacket cylinders in store from breaking-up seized sport scuba gear, that we adapted the design to use those instead: we call this version Mk.3. We have tried fitting them with the big knobs sometimes used over that sort of screw when it is part of scuba gear.
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A.P. Diving (for Ambient Pressure Diving) (earlier A.P.Valves) (who make Buddy Commando stab-jackets) is still where it was, but it now only supplies authorized divers, and it has a security perimeter. It is on a road called Water-Ma-Trout near Helston in Cornwall; the name is nothing about fish but a dialect form for "water my throat"; but we Sea Patrol men are under permanent orders to always stay sober, and we ignore that sort of oblique hint from people wanting or offering strong drink, or arrest the culprit for "trying to entice Sea Patrol men to disobey a standing order". Some say that the name referred to some land that got dry easily and needed much watering to make crops grow properly. After we came, they on our orders now make the complete "converted stab jacket" rebreather and our usual backpack-box rebreather.

We have our version of that fairly new invention, the suction-excavator. With total half-a-ton suction power across a foot-wide suction tube, not much refuses to go inside. When cleaning a scooby-kit-strewn car park, in go full gear bags, cylinders, stab-jackets even if inflated, and anything smaller. I have seen assembled single-cylinder scuba sets vanishing inside whole bumping against the inside of the suction tube as they went up. A pile of diving suits vanishes inside with flop noises of rubber against steel. Only weights have to be picked up by hand. It often quickly sucks out the contents of a car's boot (USA: trunk) or the gear-filled back of a scoobydoo club's expedition van. Inside our version, unburnables and big heavy items such as cylinders are sorted out, and the rest are shredded in a rotary breaker and end up as power station fuel.
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Someone in the Ministry of Defence suggested a frogman's rebreather called the SDBA (Special Duty Oxygen Breathing Apparatus, but it also had a nitrox variant), that was made in Billingshurst in England; we tried a few dives with it. It came with only a (very bulky) mouthpiece, designed to be used with a scooby-type eyes-and-nose mask, although designed to be knocked off less easily than many sorts of sport shop diving mask. (Here it is used while shooting; our pneumatic rifle has a variant that fires 4-inch metal bolts, much more accurate and longer range underwater than bullets).
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We prefer fullface masks, less easily lost and letting us talk underwater, so our kit design department used the shape of an unclippable hemispherical air-suction connector (in its original form, with one tube) that one of them had seen, to design a fullface breathing mask whose front-lower part could unclip easier than taking the whole mask off, particularly if the diver has a safety helmet (not air-holding) over his mask's straps. (Here it is used with ultrasound guns, and shooting first when they found armed unauthorizeds.)
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But the big cylindrical absorbent canister across the belly got in the way when climbing over edges of boats or quaysides and caused hydrodynamic drag in swimming, and its breathing tubes looped about excessively, and we rejected it for Sea Patrol issue. Other units that need to go underwater seem to have decided the same, and the firm that made it now makes only in-airliner wheelchairs.

Our kit design department persisted with the clip-on-hemisphere mask design; here it is on an aqualung-type industrial breathing set (designed by us not to work at not more than a few feet of depth pressure, only on land):
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and here it is on a dangerous-environment suit with rebreather:
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And on Bristol port work-and-security's converted stab-jackets, here used with underwater ultrasound guns. The gasmasks that their kit-converters used are easier to get; the hemisphere masks had to be made specially but protected the face better; both can be fitted with underwater communication gear.
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Bristol's men proved very effective against underwater intruders in their area:
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"Under arrest. I stopped playin' with 'My Little Pony' ages ago. You 'andle like an oil tanker.", one of them said into his hard hemispherical clip-on breathing connection to the sport diver, in contempt at his five large "pony cylinders" on top of two big main air cylinders, all open-circuit, as they quickly overhauled him, overpowered him, ultrasound-signalled for a boat to pick him up, and hauled him to the surface. Such was a trained mixed-gas rebreather user's feelings about bulky open-circuit kit. "No self-rescue buoyancy, you unsafe $%£@#, and alone." the other said, "It don't stop me from floating you up. You types think any diving problem 'll go away if you throw enough big-enough cylinders at it. We ain't tugs, towin' you back. Next time, it'll be one of our ultrasound guns.", holding tight onto the prisoner's scuba harness and overinflating his rebreather a bit for buoyancy as he towed.
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Self-luminous forehead badges identify them when needed in dark corners and dark deep water. Like us, they have no patience with the land street cop's timewasting "You are not obliged ..., etc etc." rhubarb, and they communicate between themselves with modulated ultrasound, and to suspects and public through an amplifying electronic undistorter which removes "gasmaskyness". (Such things as a medication that reliably stops oxygen poisoning at up to 7 atmospheres, allowing a simple light oxygen rebreather to be used down to 200 feet (60 meters), is still only a daydream; liquid-breathing like in the movie Abyss is under development.)

Several ports (even before we came public) started their own surface-and-diving patrol squads while waiting for us to reach them. One of them had its own idea what kit to use:
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Former sport divers, whether arrested and tried or having obeyed the law in time, all too well recognized on the hard-squad their seized or surrendered Fenzy lifejackets, repainted from emergency-obvious red to stealthy black and converted into light short-dive frogmen's rebreathers. Like us, toughened by a background at sea (often fishing-type), when trained to breathing-set dive the patrol squad quickly became efficient underwater catch-and-arresters, aided by their small light rebreathers versus the intruders' bulky sport air scuba; underwater buoyancy does not stop air scuba bulk from having inertia to be overcome at each move. (The inertia caused by heavy objects far from the rotation axis, that (along with bad hydrodynamics) stops a sport scooby with a big air set from rolling over quickly: textbooks call it "radius of gyration", but we call it rotation-inertia, which is what it is.) Their compact light sets made them much more agile when twisting and turning in underwater fights and are well-made, but kept dive time short and were oxygen only. Of those arrested in the incident shown above, the twin-hose diver's Fenzy lifejacket by next morning had become another rebreather for the patrol squad. Uncontrolled self-organized vigilantism, able to dive or not, is to be avoided, so we contacted all such groups that had arisen, and we allow and help and control those who are suitable. We took over command of that group's men and retrained them and issued to them the usual kit that we use, and some are now part of us, and some are a port's security unit, and our kit includes a converted Fenzy lifejacket rebreather for when a very light set is needed for agility and to go in narrow corners, a job that the old Siebe Gorman Salvus was good at, but no more have been made for many years; but we are looking for someone to make them again. (The Fenzy firm made industrial rebreathers in France from 1920 or before, nearly 40 years before sport diving started, so in effect the first conversion was the other way. Finally Honeywell bought them out.)
Next time they shot first with their Sea Patrol issue underwater ultrasound guns and asked questions afterwards; the intruders proved to be a sport diving group which we thought had disbanded, but had hidden their kit and waited until the big initial cleanup was getting to its end, and went to a back corner of a harbour that they knew too well, with wreck-picking tools on them - and two more Fenzy lifejackets for the patrol squad to make into short-dive light rebreathers afterwards.
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Sea Patrol 110-foot patrol boat: new kit and new crewman

A contact at Westminster phoned my base's commandant. "The new submersible equipment to collect metals and oxidizable organic matter from the seabed ..." said a naval-sounding voice.
I remembered what I had heard of earlier about the unexpectedly large trade in small dredgers, particularly submersible, and secret extra fittings for them; and such kit has its uses.
"OK, I know, I got all the circulars. They told me what this kit is and what it can do. As long as you tell us first about all diving and boat use that'll happen in connection with it in my control area, and their sonar transponders' reply codes.".
I'm sending some of this kit to you to run. The income from what it recovers should help you to pay your bills, and - you will likely find other uses for it than ordinary dredging. It's on the way. And there's a relief man for your base coming in it, a Sea Patrolman Peter Ellingsley. Qualified frogman. With him around you won't be - shorthanded.".
"He better go to our boat PB7. It's at [coordinates].".
Sea Patrol 110' patrol boat PB7's skipper went up to his bridge to collect his heli-backpack and pneumatic rifle before the sub came, not knowing what other matters this contact may bring up.
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He went down again and out onto his afterdeck. PB7's side-scan sonar saw the sub come submerged and stop. Three minutes later PB7's sonar detected moving metal as a diver-lock opened, and then displayed a "diver found" echo and an alert signal, and after a second with it a valid ultrasound transponder code. A Sea Patrol frogman appeared swimming from the patrol sub towing a big dry-box of personal kit, and came up his diving ladder. He stood to attention dripping on the deck; the sun reflected a bit off his backpack-box rebreather. He saluted and gave his name as Sea Patrolman Peter Ellingsley. PB7's skipper looked at him startled. Memory of school classes in comparative religion suddenly surfaced and caused a strong urge to do puja to Ellingsley. An inappropriate feeling, and a ritual that was not part of his own religion, but no wonder. He suppressed it and fought down his shock at Ellingsley's appearance and asked him what was happening. Ellingsley's rebreather had a fullface mask that shows only the eyes; we often use them. He had an underwater ultrasound gun in one hand, an APS underwater rifle in his other hand, and his other hand had turned his oxygen off and was free, and his other hand had just switched his mask to breathing from atmosphere and was free - hang on, let's count again - the skipper rubbed his eyes, and worked out how many months it had been since he had been near alcohol last - the previous Christmas but one, probably. So far his men had caught three boat-loads of drug smugglers, who each time were summarily disposed of with a lethal-sized injection each of their own drug, since they had enough of it on them for that; but there was no way any of it could have got onto or into him or any of his men; but the count still came to four.
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Ellingsley spoke: "Serge, I'm the relief man that base sent while Patrolman Eddington's off at court.".
"I thought we wouldn't get that #@%$ silly trick from the courts, taking men off patrol as witnesses instead of accepting their reports as true, and then the culprit pleads guilty and he wasn't needed after all." the skipper said.
"There were other charges in with the diving charge, and the arsehole's pet solicitor found out and appealed when he went to the ordinary court for them. I thought we wouldn't get that, defence lawyers interrogating us like criminals. Once when I was a witness, the court clerk wanted me to wear a poncho to hide my extra arms. Yes, I'm a `special model', Nature got things a bit wrong. My parents `rolled in the hay' in bushes in the grounds of a Hindu temple, that's not what those grounds were meant for, what did they expect might happen!? I won all the breast-stroke swimming races at school. Yes, the sub brought me, I've got orders from the sub's skipper to pass to you for you to help us to help find and sink that "floating gin palace" La Parisienne that's been living off everybody's nets and keep-boxes when it isn't smuggling, and now it's around here. The sub's skipper said that laparos is Greek for "abdomen", it fits, that `big belly' loose around here. I'm ready. if they try anything, they'll soon find what my ultrasound gun is for, and my APS.".
The APS is a Russian-made rifle designed to be used underwater. It fires a steel bolt 4.75 inches long, far longer range than a bullet underwater and much more powerful than a speargun. Neither "Jaws" nor suspicious frogmen stand a chance against it. Ellingsley went below. We searched and radar-scanned for La Parisienne.
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The big demonstration

Soon came another big demonstratory "dive-in" trying to restore old conditions. PB7 went on to a combined action with another patrol boat and two Sea Patrol submarines cleaning it up. The Sea Patrol often has one answer to that sort of deliberate attempt to challenge authority. That was the first operation that our new two types of submarines were on.
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We brought two more 30-foot dredger-subs down to the sea.
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Our new 60-foot SGD19 patrol grab-dredgersub went into action. As the previous image shows, it can operate upside-down.
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An emergency radio beacon started somewhere. My skipper dratted the interruption and went towards the signal. We heard and then saw three divers adrift in sport-type kit and no licence-proving sonar transponders. We have the lifeboat service's job, but also other jobs. We were well away from nosy eyes. The skipper, who came from an inshore fishing family including pot-setting, saw their lobster hooks and and gave an order. Our Sea Patrol issue electromagnetic-powered nailguns disposed silently and efficiently of the shellfish poachers whether they were in difficulties at sea or not.
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Our other handy bit of new kit cleaned up below later. A Sea Patrol `chariot' went in action against a large liveaboard that had joined the demonstration. The chariot's pilot successfully planted a limpet mine on the dirty nonmagnetic fibreglass hull, while his mate's ultrasound gun made sure that two sport divers from the craft did not interfere or get back with information.
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Two of our men, toughened by years of docker's work, made their standard hard arrest of two more unauthorized sport divers.
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Meanwhile nearby, a lone diver was efficiently treated the same: "You unauthorized #@%$ surface and get in our patrol boat NOW!". His work-enlarged hands easily grabbed the "double pluck": easily-dislodged sport "pillbox mask" and mouthpiece in one handful.
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Two more of my men were the last thing seen and photographed by yet another pair of shellfish poachers: "Those scoobydoo gag-mouthpieces so we'd have to surface them to question them. They always say they're just in for a dip. All I know is: it's that sort of bunch again and yet again no permit." one of them said as their Sea Patrol issue high-powered ultrasound guns went into action.
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"It's all right, I just came along to watch" came a radio signal from a 29-foot blue powerboat that we challenged on radio. However, to us, hanging about on the edge of trouble is the same as taking part. "#37, check out small light-blue craft at [coordinates]." our squad-leader ordered. Flying with a heli-backpack at wave-skimming height, I found the sort of thing that he thought it would be. Likeliest no diving permit yet again, but I was just checking up so far. Guilty conscience, because as I came in to land on his stern they pulled weapons on me. A knife man got in the way of man aiming a compressed-air speargun; three cartridge cases bounced about on the boat's floor as my issue Mossberg Mariner saltproof pump-action again decided the matter.
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Onshore, we steadily arrested demonstrators as they arrived and unpacked to dive or as they finished their dives. Some doubted our guns and Sea Patrol warrant cards, or likelier for demonstratory reason had decided to act so, and resisted with sharp scuffles. Some obeyed us quietly. We ordered them to un-kit completely including diving suits onto lorries whiich we had brought, separating cylinders from weights from other large metals from other stuff. We proved all their identities and let them go, deciding that losing their diving gear was enough penalty for them. After a long time the shoal of demonstratory-minded scoobydoos at last seemed to be getting fewer. Behind my squad leader underwater came reinforcements and a good reason why unauthorized sport divers in brightly colored kit should not hang around around there. That sort of dredging kit cleans up all the rubbish that gets in the water in its area. It has onboard an advanced derivative of the fuel-cell, which routinely recovers separated metal oxides, and energy of oxidation to run on, from many sorts of rubbish and dredgings. It can use surplus electrical energy to make boat motor fuel from water and the carbon dioxide that comes out of the oxidation.
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Meanwhile on shore and in shallow water where the demonstration's boats had sailed from, there were four hundred more unauthorizeds in an aggessive mood. Our electric shock batons stopped an attempt to rush us. "'Oppit." one of us said, "This stuff of yours goes straight in our base destructor. You shouldn't 'ave been diving 'ere in the first place. It ain't free-for-all any more. This is a work 'arbour, not for all sorts to skylark about. And that's why our issue of these things 'ave long sharp 'lectrodes to get through you clever lot's fancy insulating diving suits.". The electrodes went straight through a drysuit and a Thinsulate and down went yet another clever civilian in the middle of waving bits of legalism about as we continued to load up prisoners. Seeing my standard issue propane flamethrower helped to tell them to quiet down.
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A teargas grenade stopped some shellfish poachers from escaping in a boat while we loaded up the seized diving gear and the prisoners. The noisy croaking frog that some of us compare the sport diving organizations to, for many years had been heard far too loud above the needs of people who work on the sea, but at last it had vanished inside the dredging duck's closing flat beak and was being pumped down its throat for disposal.
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Nearby underwater a search crew patrolled over a litter of dropped gear and the usual dock debris and clutter.
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We had seized so much that we were thankful that we had brought a transportable incinerator to the site. Destroying so much diving gear was a long job, but we got to the end of it. It was not too much for the Sea Patrol to handle. All seized kit including boats can be destroyed on site.
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All the demonstrators were taken back to our bases and there tried by each base's commanders. One base has its own way to carry prisoners.
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"OK, the ride's over. Time to see what the commander decides.".
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Inevitably, between the excitement, time, and times, and half a time, passed with not much happening. Not much lifeboat work, indeed, because before we came most lifeboat calls were to careless pleasure boaters and suchlike. But such jobs arose.
- Three trippers were caught by tide at the base of a cliff near Watchet: a helibackpack squad lifted them out, and put them on the hilltop, and demanded proof of identity, and billed them for our time, and warned that next time we would prosecute for wasting our time by basic carelessness in walking on the shore.
- An inshore fishing boat's engine failed. It anchored to avoid drifting onto rocks. A Sea Patrol 30-foot grab-dredger-sub had to leave its ordered patrol route and go and free the boat's fouled anchor before a Sea Patrol patrol boat towed it to harbour. We found why the engine had failed, were told the expected excuse about being unable to afford proper lubricating oil so he had had to makeshift, and we prosecuted its skipper for neglecting routine maintenance thus wasting our time. Our skipper tried the case at once onboard and never mind time-wasting land court procedure and our men being witness-summonsed to courtrooms many miles from their duty stations.
- A civilian phoned 999 (= emergency, in Britain) and asked for the lifeboat, about a sheep stuck on a cliff. The 999 operator routinely passed him onto the Sea Patrol as the successors to the lifeboat and the coastguard. The base officer told him that that was the RSPCA's job. The resulting pleading was interrupted by naval language and a reminder that rules and remits had changed since the lifeboat service became part of us.
- Some licenced shellfish divers were after scallops and blundered into a smuggling operation, and an underwater fight started, until a Sea Patrol 60-foot suction-dredger-sub investigated the noise, fired low-powered ultrasound to look for authorized transponders, sucked them all up, and let the shellfish divers out again, but not the smugglers.
- A cargo ship's cargo shifted in bad weather; the patrol boat that I was in, and another, had to tow it in. It looked like it may sink, so we took its men off with some difficult helicopter-hovering, but we got it to port still floating. This time our skipper decided that the weather was to blame and let everybody go without accusation.

An inshore fisherman phoned Sea Patrol to arrest dives stated to be stealing fishboxes and other kit, and the local men were mostly away at sea fishing and not available to sort the matter out themselves. We came. The divers were working from a boat. As we boarded the boat with guns ready, a security squad with a bakery's badges on their uniforms opposed us, and a man in an office suit told us:
- "The divers aren't stealing, they're getting our property back for us. These aren't any fishing village's fish boxes, they're a bunch of my firm's bread trays. Here's our marking cast onto this one. Our bread trays are not sold with their contents. They remain our property, and the shops should send them back next delivery, and we're allowed to take them back if we find other people using them. It's cost my firm a fortune replacing lost bread trays down the years, and it was time for a crackdown, same as you Sea Patrol were set up to make a crackdown. For example, yesterday we took 431 of our bread trays back from a weekly street market being used to store all sorts of stuff in; the market men got argumentative and rough, but the cops got ready to batoncharge, and the market men backed off. My firm's sick of being treated as a free supplier of storage trays. A few trays strayed here, a few trays strayed there, used to store anything and allsorts in, and so on, across the country and over time it adds and multiplies up. We took back what we found on land here, but we had to call divers to get back some that were in the sea.".
"We only kept a few to store fish in."
"It wasn't a few, it was over sixty, and we can't afford to keep on losing bread trays at that rate. There's proper suppliers of fishermen's fish boxes.".
Two of the Sea Patrol men came from an inshore fishing family, and that complicated their loyalties here. But the fishermen surrendered the bread trays, and later bought proper white plastic fishboxes. Similar complaints about us being "disloyal to our origins" arise when we arrest men for illegal fine-mesh nets and suchlike that endanger fish stocks, and for suchlike overefficient methods. Two days later the same squad arrested some inshore men for elver fishing; they said they had always elver fished in season, but with the threatened state of the European Eel, the only right thing to do with an elver is to let it swim up a river and find somewhere to grow into a big eel.

Our Bank Holiday weekend underwater

A message came to a Sea Patrol patrol submarine:

"Diving liveaboard `Mariana' operating at [coordinates]. About 100 feet long, white superstructure with swept-back styling, blue hull. No record of a permit for it.".

"Another??" the sub's skipper answered, "I suppose that as usual it's hoping that if it acts friendly and carries on same as before the new laws'll go away like an ignored wasp and become a `dead letter'.".
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Inside the submarine its crew got ready. It surfaced by the suspect boat. Two of its crew with heli-backpacks quickly seized the liveaboard's bridge and heaved-to while the sub secured itself to it and a full boarding party secured it and herded its crew and passengers at gunpoint into a back room, which they then nailed shut with their nailguns. Three frogmen were ready to go after any unauthorizeds who went in the water, but were not needed. The usual search seized the usual assortment of sport scuba gear of many types that the Sea Patrol had no use for directly or for converting and no desire to stuff their living space full of it to cart it all back to base. They left two men on board to sail the Mariana back to their base for its contents to be processed there.

"Do you mind!?" the Mariana's captain complained as they did this, "We've got an inflatableful of divers out and I'm not going to leave them out here. We aren't doing any harm. And it was us made many of those boating and diving and accommodation facilities at various diving centres which you lot seized and turned into hard efficient disciplinarian patrol and arrest bases.".

"Yes, I know you scooby-doos did. Using up fuel unnecessarily, getting into difficulties and making extra work for the rescue men, poaching wreck and shellfish, and suspicious frogmen could do all sorts of things in front of everybody and people wouldn't bother to report it because it would likely be yet more underwater trippers. Handy our base is for us that you scooby-doos made for us, near Plymouth navy base, has its own harbour and pier, hills behind to stop binocular and amateur astronomer telescope spying from roads and farmland behind, at the end of a cul-de-sac lane so only its own men and a few local farm men need passes to turn off towards it from the main road. You lot are still under arrest. We'll pick up the inflatable.".

In a few minutes the inflatable would reach the dive site and a pleasant wreck exploration off the south Devon coast. They did not know what had happened and had not paid much attention to newspaper articles about new laws. They had been diving there so long that surely the new laws didn't apply to them. To their total shock the 60-foot patrol submarine UPC35, with a flat top deck and no conning tower, surfaced beside them.
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Its Sea Patrol badge told them all too clearly what its purpose was. Its markings reminded them too well of what had happened to what had been a main sport diving centre. It had followed the outboard motor noise all too easily. Two hatches in its deck opened, and a man in a riotsquad helmet and a boilersuit-type uniform and a police-type kit belt came out of each. One had an APS underwater rifle. The other had a lit oxyhydrogen cutting blowtorch fed from backpack cylinders. There was no point doing anything but surrender to it. The sport divers were stripped down to their diving suits, loaded into the sub's brig, and ordered to take their diving suits off. The sub's skipper did not want his living space to be choked full yet again with seized unauthorized diving gear for several hours until he got back to base. He gave the usual order. They took the inflatable in tow and sorted out the cylinders and weights and what else was useful, and slung the rest down a hatch into an onboard rotary fragmenter, which ground up tough woven nylon and stab-jackets' hard backplates and everything else, and then the inflatable, into inch-sized pieces, which were offloaded later and ended up as power station fuel.
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A little later the prisoners were transferred at sea to the Sea Patrol surface patrol boat PB7.
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The patrol sub was still with PB7 when another order came in over PB7's radio.

"Go to a cove at [coordinates] and put an end to a group of inland city types 's inflatable-borne weekend plans. Estimated 30 of them and at least 3 inflatables and RIB's".

"Uhh, like at Easter when like frogs they were all coming out of hibernation. I thought this'd be a busy few days." said PB7's skipper, and passed the order on. Both subs can run any way up and the combined operation at sea soon did the job.
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During this a naval minesweeper-type craft was on exercise a few miles away. On its captain's intended exercise area he yet again saw civilian-type RIB's and a flag that he knew, and bubbles moving about, and a mounted telescope showed cars with trailers on a beach. "Not again." he sighed and resignedly went to ask headquarters for somewhere else for the exercise; then he remembered. He gave an order that he had been planning and longing to carry out for many years. "All spare men, action stations, launch all boats, clean out that `pond life'!". By now many naval men were hard efficient diver-arresters, and they cleaned up quickly. Four men with heli-backpacks flew to land and stopped escape inland. The civilian surface craft were caught after short boat chases and a few shots into motors.

The minesweeper dropped a fishing-type trawl over its stern and caught many of the submerged civilian divers. The minesweeper's Clearance Divers arrested the rest in short underwater scuffles in which their naval CDBA rebreathers and tough drysuits and full army-type fitness proved much better than cumbersome heavy bulky civilian air scuba and soft wetsuits. In recent years a new naval work diver's rebreather had come in, so bulked with safety features and automation that even fit navy men preferred not to climb diving ladders wearing it; but navy command knew what was coming and brought the CDBA back.
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The minesweeper hauled its trawl in and emptied it onto its aft deck. Fish netted as by-catch became dinner. The unauthorized civilian divers were ordered to un-kit completely including their wetsuits into a hollow used as open storage. The minesweeper came up to my unit's boat.
"Please take 29 prisoners off us. Where's that CN34 that the UKIFA runs? We could have used 'im 'ere.", its skipper radioed, "Got 'is grinder jammed on a wad of air sport scuba set backplates again?".
"We're busy and nearly full." my skipper radioed back, "You'll 'ave to take them to Porthkerris." The Sea Patrol has a secondary base there: yet another seized and converted scoobydoo centre. It now has a new easy access road instead of the steep awkward access road that it had in BSAC times.
"CN34 'ere. Never mind accusin'." a signal came in, "We were modified a while ago to auto-clear that sort 'o jam. Same as CN74 doesn't get a subskimmer jammed with its thruster-arm crossways at the bottom end of 'is flexible intake any more.".

"If there's one thing that I'm thankful that that grab type can do, it's swallowing RIB's and large diver-riders, which a standard as-issued suction sub can't, but it's got to break them up outside, with a lot of time and noise and then it can't always." the skipper said, "Once a scooby club made a sort of attempt at a chariot. A lot of wood in it. It worked, not as good as ours. CN74 just got it by one end, crushed its seat-tops and 'planes down in its grab, down 'is intake it went. Crunch, gone, motor and all. 'E ground it up and recycled it without trace like all the other rubbish that gets in the water round 'is patch. I saw a training video of it. 'E said there's no feeling quite like swallowing a civvy sport scooby inflatable and then feeling 'is insides destroying it.".

"I know. I've seen 'im crush a scooby club's RIB on its trailer into a bale and get it down in one plenty o' times. Noisy job. A size 3 FSPB [= Fast Submersible Patrol Boat] can scoop and tank a RIB and 8 divers in it in one in a few seconds, and the noisy part 'appens inside in soundproof." CN34 said, "At the start the Sea Patrol said to keep all RIB's that they seized, but there was so @%& many they were `making geography' wi' them. A few days one o' you `seeps' on a Protei magnetic clamped 'isself to me to get a lift. That was in that gully I cleaned out before. Good thing 'e 'ad a strong clamp to 'old on with, 'cos I 'ad the job to do again.". His voice was synthesized but had the correct rough waterfront accent and mannerisms.
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The skipper looked at his radio direction finder. "What are you doing there that far inland??" he asked, setting his radio tight-beam in that direction for privacy.

"I'm cleanin' out one of those scoobies' "frog ponds" where they train inland while the sea's rough and cold afore their sea divin' season starts.". CN34 said, "The works made me an 'andy set o' clip-on land wheels. They got a real right shock. I ain't 'alf stowin' my dredgin's-tank full plenty o' times, all the scoobydoos comin' out of 'ibernation and straight to the nearest breedin' water like frogs, think these inland lakes are out o' my reach till they get good enough to chase around pinchin' shellfish and wreck. And boats go in: they made an 'andy bolt-on boat-breaker for me. I got there at night. It felt strange draggin' myself about overland. More moon than I liked the idea of, but nobody saw us. There's a cottage by where I 'ad to go to get in the lake, a couple live there, they used to sell snacks and so on to scoobies, but the Sea Patrol dug up an excuse to take them in for questionin' overnight. There was no point 'is `Fido the Offensive' shoutin' like that, nobody 'eard, and in the end the cur found what my man's nailgun was for.".
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The skipper answered: "Their "good enough trained for sea diving" isn't good enough by my reckoning. Our divers have a 3-week hard fulltime course for a starter, and more for specialities, that's weapon and tool use and how to arrest suspects underwater and such like. And they dive all through the year when there's work or action for them. Not just one evening a week and half of it drinking and general conversation. We don't recognize sport diving qualifications, and we never have.".

"This lot ain't sport divers, with that kit." said the patrol sub's skipper, "They've got that armband insignia that we were told about. Our dredger-sub's onboard destructor's never tackled a subskimmer before.", and radioed a picture of what he had seen.

"And it isn't going to now. Keep it. And those fancy rebreathers. We can use them if they're in good order. They look like CDBA's." said the surface boat skipper, "It's the first time we've caught men from that new gang. They've started using frogmen. We call them the GRG, that's `green red grey' from their insignia, till we find their proper name. I don't think it'll be the last. They'll be a harder lot than sport scoobies and better armed. Looks like we got the Sea Patrol and the new laws just in time. Looks like we'll be getting jobs that aren't such an easy `turkey shoot' as arresting sport divers.".
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"I've already seen some of the GRG's work." the sub skipper said, "Two of their frogmen grabbed a man out of a small powerboat in Christchurch Harbour in Hampshire. A security camera saw this happen. Not scoobies. A properly trained hard lot. Where do they get all that kit and training from?
-"Don't tip the boat up, we need all 'is papers. Got'im. Sling 'im in the chariot's cargo carrier and away. Serve 'im right for going motorboating 'stead of staying at work."
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"Boss says enough to knock 'im out for sixteen hours till we get 'im to our lab. 'E's that "gene-genie" that genetic-engineered some o' the "seep" and navy stuff that's been after us. Then search this boat. Some say there nothing for frogman work quite like the good old 'andy British Siebe Gorman CDBA. Breathing tube all in front so nobody can grab it from be'ind. If you want to get a really light set to get through 'oles, leave the main oxy tanks off and dive with only the bailout. If you want a clean belly to slide in and out o' small boats, leave the bailout off and dive with only the main tanks.".
Click here for image. Quietening him.
Click here for image. In he goes.
Click here for image. Stowed for delivery
Click here for image. Back to base.

- Luckily for us, they got a wrong man, who didn't know anything sensitive. And sport divers and ordinary work divers don't last long if the GRG runs into them on operation: handy silent underwater ultrasound gun: we use them also.".
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The minesweeper reached Porthkerris and unloaded the arrested civilian sport divers into cells along a quay. On order from the base's commander, the minesweeper's crew shovelled the seized scoobydoo gear into the sea, where a waiting suction dredgersub made a quick end of it. We went back to our base and found that Sea Patrol inland search squads had brought in several more tons of unauthorized kit from two diving clubs' basement caches. They had rid the load of cylinders and weights and tipped the rest down a chute into our destroy room.
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I remembered the long job I had destroying it in time to free our storage for the next bulk seizure. To a waterfront type who has suffered too much nuisance from sport divers getting in the way of work, bright-colored sport scoobydoo gear looks best vanishing into a destructor. Colorful eyes-and-nose masks and fins of many shapes and ornate stab-jackets and wetsuits slid off my shovel into the incinerator as I stoked steadily. After a minute I operated a control, and inside a propane flame started the burnup. My shoveling-fork pulled out tangles of regulator hoses and spiked up wetsuits, and heat and glare shone over me each time I stoked some of them in, and along with them some part of the recent century's general tradition of carefreely using up energy and materials for pleasure instead of keeping them for later for essentials. My heavy hobnailed boots crushed trailing second-stages and loose gauges as I had to walk further for each shovelful. As I picked up the last of the pile from a back corner, my sergeant came in and gave me new orders. My hands were full and he would have to wait for my salute. I shovelled the load into the hot all-consuming inside; second-stages and stab-jacket attachments and a wetsuit leg trailed outside until I pushed them over and in with my shovel's front edge. I looked round, at last saw no more seizures except a mask which my right boot had crushed, threw it in, shut the stoke hatch, and turned and stood to attention and saluted. To some of us who were inshore fishermen there is no feeling quite like shutting the stoke hatch behind the last shovelful of seized civilian scoobydoo gear. I left the incinerator closed to finish destroying its load while we went to rescue and arrest five careless civilians who had got into difficulty pleasure boating.

CN34 stayed in the quarry for a fortnight. It knows how to stay out of sight underwater, and nobody saw it and got away to tell of it. Its sonar was much better than light-sight in British-type low underwater visibility. Small submersible dredging kit changes much.

The wrong pipe

Time and ordinary jobs passed. One day our radar saw a cluster of boats, which we investigated. As we approached, we heard and then saw a scuffle and an argument onboard. Two men who smelled as much of cowhouse as of fishing were being restrained expertly by four inshore fishermen who we already knew as efficient at routinely capturing and processing unwelcome sport divers found by them among lobster pots. "@#%$ part-timers setting pots in our areas." one of the fishermen said, "They've got their farm pay to live on, we haven't.". Our commander interrupted the argument and arrested the two for unlicenced and locked them up below, and took their boat in tow for the rest of our patrol. As our commander was trying the two back at base for poaching, some licenced scallop divers came into our base and tied up, and one came ashore and ahoyed about until attended to. He reported live explosives in a wartime wreck, and gave the coordinates: thanks, another expensive risky salvage job for us before undesirables got hold of it first.

While he was giving orders about this on next day's morning parade, he noticed and pointed to something lying in a road by our seized kit processing building: "What are these!?".
"Seagull heads, sir. Look like two black-headeds and a kittiwake, sir.".
"Never mind the ornithology. Who did that and couldn't clean up afterwards?! And I said tar that piece of weather-boarding, not tar and feather it.".
We waited. The sergeant waited. Nobody moved.
"Oh, solidarity in the ranks, is it? At any other time, but this time I want to know who's been so #@%$ messy and gruesome like that bit in the #@%$ `Godfather'!!".
We waited. The sergeant waited. A storeman passing delivering goods interrupted: "Please sir,". We mentally dratted him for telltaling, but he continued: "it's a pair of wild peregrine falcons did it. They've got a new nest up above there. They nest on cliffs, and to them buildings are a sort of cliff. They pluck their kills and let the waste go everywhere. Untidy creatures. Sah.".
"And more when they've got babies to feed, I suppose. Pah! At least they'll keep some of the gulls and pigeons and starlings scared away. This is a Sea Patrol base, not a falconry centre or a birds' shithouse.". He pointed to one of us. "You, pick that mess up.". He pointed to another of us. "You, get a ladder and a propane burner and clean and re-tar that weather boarding.".

Some ex-Greenpeace men met in a back corner in an old warehouse.
"They won't give us a running work diving permit, won't even give us a boat use permit: our solicitor warned us that that new Coast Defence Act would likely lead to this sort of thing, and he was right." one of them said.

"Handy way to stop us from operating. OK, we'd been at it too much. Each bit of diver nuisance such as taking shellfish and crowding beaches pushed them a bit further. Us blocking outfall pipes was diver nuisance big-time and also sabotage. And this talk of energy and materials shortages coming making them want to ration things. We were thinking that things would carry on as they were and not looking at the big gradual trends. Then bang, at sea the Sea Patrol, and on land I soon won't be able to use my car any more without proving need for each journey. And my weekend and summer evening diving which I liked so much, vanished into Conway Sea Patrol base's #@$% kit-shredder and ended up as power station fuel. But I don't see why we should move our standpoint or stop for the #@$% `seeps'.".
"How's matters going with setting up that Dobeka Ltd. or whatever you were going to call it, that work diving firm, underwater contractors and searching for lost stuff and suchlike, as a cover for us keeping on going to sea? At least we can keep on keeping an eye in things.".
"The firm's set up, we've sold our boats etc to it, I'm one of its directors under a false name.".
Time passed. They started another bout of outfall pipe blocking. Recent events faded out of their minds as the comfort of old routine returned. They had found about the pipe by following it overland from a laboratory-type building near the shore. Underwater, its end was well hidden among an old well-broken-up shipwreck.

CN34 can stay on site for a long time. His sentient computer-brain knew where to look for oxidizable matter and recoverable metals. He checked and sucked empty one of various deep holes where large amounts of kelp and light sinkable rubbish tended to accumulate. He checked a cove where tide and currents often accumulated driftwood. He knew places where rubbish was routinely tipped. He knew where there was deep silt full of organic matter where sewers had discharged for over a century. And he had other work.

He arranged himself carefully among underwater scrap left by a broken-up shipwreck. Once it has been the S.S. Cawnpore, carrying mixed cargo. The sort of thing that sport divers liked to explore. CN34 surveyed the area quickly by light-sight and sonar, but his brain was programmed to be work-minded and not tempted to explore when not needed. If any civilian divers poked about with one of those little hand-held sonars that divers can buy, they would not notice much wrong. Four divers with miscellaneous air scuba kit came past, with net bags full of scallops. But his sonar activated transponders on them: they were licenced shellfish divers, leave them.They knew that their transponders had activated, and were thankful that they had gone legal.

The ex-Greenpeace men found the pipe end. They used rebreathers: Dräger Atlantics this time, repainted all black. Underwater, the new menace seemed light-years away. By now they had designed a pipe-end-blocker that could fit on many shapes of pipe end. Soon the pipe would not discharge any more pollution for a while.

But such matters have now been seen to, and the divers were on a method and cause and line of thought that had run its time. The only organisms that ever came out of the outfall pipe were eggs and young from the fish and shellfish that were kept for breeding in the building. Things were different, and Greenpeace diver types had new enemies. One of them swept his small handheld sonar about and noticed that the wreck seemed to have a boiler too many. His fullface mask allowed talking, but it was too late to warn. Another pipe stabbed out at them from beyond the underwater visibility limit, which was about 15 feet. There was a blast of ultrasound and suction. Like many others since the law changed they vanished inside the steel-cased, hydroplane-steered, propeller-ended, rubbish and scubadiver, impersonal-looking bulk of CN34, a Type DSS3 suction dredgersub.

Dock security

The blip on the sonar screen showed the docker-foreman that an unidentified diver was in the dock. He sent in a docks patrol frogman with a Siebe Gorman Salvus short-dive rebreather and an electromagnetic-powered nailgun to intercept. The Salvus is very light and streamlined, and he was much fitter than most amateur divers, and he quickly close-hauled the apparent intruder and went to arrest him at gunpoint. It was me, and I also was armed, with a Russian-made APS underwater rifle.
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I am well trained what to do in mutual-gunpoint situations. "Sea Patrol" I said, showing an identity tag. Both of us had mouth-and-nose breathing masks and could talk, "I take it you weren't running your sonar transponder.".
"Uhh, sorry." said the docks man, and then went to switch an ultrasound communicator on.
"Leave that switched off. I'm under orders to check everything. There was underwater activity that we weren't told about.".
"That was us. Some crates fell in the water. And yesterday our security chased two men off and they dumped stuff in the water and we had to get it back. They'd been prowling about several times or trying to get let in saying they were different things. They're from town, no steady jobs. That type.".
"And you sent men in without telling us. Watch out we don't suspend your harbour's running diving permit for a fortnight for that sort of slackness. This is just what we don't want: not being able to tell authorized from unauthorized when there's several of both about.".
"Foreman rang and you were engaged.".
"And obeying rules gets hostage to the `hallophone' and the ways it acts up. I thought you lot knew how to tell an engaged line that someone else is trying to get through. Commandant was busy about Dev-Null, that's one of our type DSS D7.1 suction dredger subs, he was in being serviced. He's just setting off again. Watch out when he's around.".
"Foreman said there were two other diver-type echoes further away.".
"We've seen them. Get back on land before that little breathing set runs out and tell the rest from us to report all your unreported dives properly.".
On my way back, I heard and investigated aqualung bubbling. I found the cause where he had sneaked in down a disused boat-stair. My personal sonar found him from much further than he could see me by eye in the low visibility. He was in the way of shipping. He had no sonar transponder. When close enough he was easy to see with the bright colors on his kit. "Yet another chlorine-breathing alien in for a look round.", I thought irritatedly at his bright yellow cylinder. Another one who neither knew or cared about either us or the rules about gas cylinder colors. He floundered round heavily to try to face me: aqualungs are heavy and stick out and make the diver heavy and slow in turning. He knew so little that he made the scoobydoo `circle and point' "hallo" sign at me as if to another sport club member. My eyes showed no emotion through the small eyeholes above my efficient-looking rebreather-mask as I grabbed his sport diving 'pillbox mask' off and mouthpiece out in one handful. I ordered him to surface and get on land. I followed him.
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"Two more in the next dock northwards" I told the docks frogman as he changed his breathing set. He and three others dived again in the next dock along and quickly hard-arrested five sport divers who were skylarking about in it. Again the Siebe Gorman Salvus industrial / short-dive rebreather was much more light and agile than sport gear in action.
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A docks security squad met them as a crane lifted then onto land in a cargo net. "I take it you know nothing at all about that powerboat which had been sunk in that dock the night before." I told them as the docks security callout squad cut the arrested men out of their wetsuits.
The docks squad processed them and their gear with their usual hardness and thoroughness of heavy manual workmen who have had too much dose of pleasure-seekers getting in the way and taking stuff. Many Sea Patrol men have been recruited from among them. "That fancy-colored kit of theirs 'll look just right picked up on the boiler furnace stoker's shovel." the foreman said.
After that, the docks frogmen recharged their sets and went back to checking some dock gates underwater. The docker-foreman's propane flamethrower routinely burnt up seized kit as easily as it burnt off old paint or flyposters, or melted roofing tar when re-waterproofing a tool lockup.
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A report of unusual activity by some people who had landed from an unlisted pleasure-type craft, proved to be four men angling for sea bass to sell on the side in the market to pay bills.

After that, we drove half a mile inland in a inner city area behind the docks. We permanently closed Joe's Scuba Center down as we routinely seized and disposed of its contents and records. In the alley beside the shop someone's battered 3rd-hand car of doubtfully legal ownership and overdue licence plate would have to stay blocked in until our lorry and transportable incinerator had finished its work there. The labels on our riotshields made their purpose quite clear and were not office-minded euphemisms. A postman, and two Gas Board men with a van and officious petty queries, and two salesmen, and a succession of argumentative public wanting access or bits of property and money back, each in turn saw the squad's sergeant's propane flamethrower (his usual guard weapon) and decided not to take their matters further. The property's landlord and his three agents refused to be told but waved papers at us and tried to bounce us away, but our riotsquad training and shields and Sea Patrol issue pickaxe handles soon stopped them, and they joined the other prisoners at our base.
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A man bringing a load of hired sport gear back to Joe's had an unexpected meeting. He was yet another who did not read the newspapers and switched the TV news off after the headlines; but he "got the point" when he met me.
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We finished loading up and went back to the docks.
"Yet more suspicious echoes on our sonar." said the docker foreman.
"Call your men out of the water." I ordered him, for a moving patch of heavy swirling in the dock access channel water showed that the matter was being seen to. When the docks work divers had climbed up a boat ladder onto the quay, they went casual and talked about a meal, but my sergeant called them to attention.
"Silence. 'Ten-shun!. No, you hose your kit down and service it and refill your sets, and then you eat and idle about. Stop that fidgeting. 'Ten-shun properly! I'll not let licenced divers get casual. And, you called `Timmo': Don't swallow! Take your mask and hood off! Don't swallow!".
`Timmo' obeyed. Even for a licenced diver, being interrogated by the Sea Patrol is not to be treated casually.
"Face me and open your mouth full wide. Don't swallow!".
`Timmo' obeyed.
"Tongue to the left and up as far as it can go. Don't swallow!".
The tongue went over, but rather awkwardly.
"Tongue back to the right, in one go, and right up. Don't swallow!".
The tongue movement was again awkward, as if it was trying to drag something along with it.
"Back to the left, twice as fast. Don't swallow!".
During the movement, the sergeant suddenly produced a blunt forceps from inside his right sleeve and quickly jabbed inside with it. Timmo said "ow!" as the forceps caught flesh as they dragged something out.
"What's this?!" the sergeant asked.
"It's a dental work fitting that just came loose." Timmo said nervously.
"What's this?!" the sergeant asked.
"It's a lozenge that the doctor told me to keep in my mouth. I've got a condition.".
"What's this?!" the sergeant asked.
"It's - chewing gum." Timmo said, admitting defeat.
"Then why did you say it was those other things?".
"I need it. I've got to keep my juices running.".
"What does the diving training manual say about chewing gum!?".
"Er - er -".
"What does it say?!".
"OK, it says it looks sloppy and rude, it may make speech unclear when I very importantly need to be understood first go, it may get down my throat or into the set when I get into funny attitudes underwater, er, it looks sloppy, sorry, er er, it gets trodden into the carpet, it - I know how to keep chewing gum in my mouth.".
"Not well enough, judging by the bills people get to have chewing gum cleaned off things. What do the rules say about those two excuses?".
"That I mustn't come out with those excuses and they don't count. That if my mouth's dry I must wet it some other way that's safe, think of food or something but not if it'd distract me from attending to things, or it must stay dry.".
"But you weren't trying to fight that slovenly mouth habit and you thought you could get away with it. Your voice was unclear because of it being in there, and you having to repeat twice because of it before your foreman understood you, delayed important action. I'm reporting you to our licencing office for careless practice underwater and sloppyness in public. OK, give me the rest of the packet and all the other packets. And we don't trust men who talk evasive. You said two plain lies before admitting. Right. Forget the pub next free day. Use the time to re-study the diving manual and handwrite a 4-page report on the rules about this, and bring it to our base at <address>.".

Our suction-dredger-sub Dev-Null went over a flat bottom past a rough concrete dock wall to the echoes; the dock was about 50 feet deep but it changed with the tide. It had come with UKIFA when they joined us, and we let it keep their insignia. They were two men with sport-type air scuba and no sonar transponders. Above his rounded-cylindrical bulk his suction tube aimed and untelescoped as he routinely sucked them up without slowing. In a work cavity connected to his dredgings tank they proved to be the same two men who were chased away the day before. Interrogation found only that they were Donald Duck and Scrooge MacDuck and lived at Pondville. Dev-Null's sentient computer brain's attitude to matters was a rough waterfront mixture of dredger-skipper and naval officer, and for some time he had been out of patience with endless variations of that line of sillyness from suspects. As he emptied their cylinders into his engine's air intake and let his onboard recycler / destructor summarily finish the job the same as with any other rubbish that got in the sea in his aea, he called on modulated ultrasound for SDS43, who he had been told was in the area, and reported what had happened.
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"'Ere's DDS47 " said SDS43, sending an image,
"'E belongs to UKIFA.
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Back to base 'e comes with Nantwich BSAC in 'is dredgings tank. That was the end o' that lot. Nantwich is a town in Cheshire. Not the place to need much work divin' doin', 'cept a few canals and salt-mining subsidence meres, so there's no #@% need to keep up all those divers and then there's no work for 'em so they muck about in other men's areas.

This is 'im a year or so back off West Africa cleanin' up a bunch that were pinchin' pearl shell all over the place, native divers taking everything till the reef was dead with old sport divers' cast-offs and such crude stuff as garden hose fed from pneumatic drill compressors.
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A naval dredger-sub came with us part way and turned off to Tenerife.
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This is it helping to clean up a big bunch that were nosing round a wreck. 'Owever far they go to waste fuel and metals, we find them. The men with us had to go inside the wreck after some of them. Grab some skinny-armed unfit %$# by one of 'is D-rings, and 'is flimsy sport mask comes off as easy as usual. All that fancy sport shop kit of theirs designed to look pretty and "cool", and to wear out quickly so he must buy another, rather than to do its job properly for as long as possible: to us it's merely expensive power-station fuel.".

We thought we'd cleaned the 'ole coast out, but a few lots still tried it on and a squad 'ad to go in on land. Phew it was 'ot there, lucky the squad's suits have a clip-on cooler. reckon we didn't need our incinerator there, the weather there's that 'ot anyway. We 'andy devices with our onboard destructors clean up ALL the rubbish that gets in the sea in our areas. And where did yer get yer name?".
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"I was told /dev/null 's a place in a Unix computer and if yer send anything there it vanishes. That's why they chose my name." said Dev-Null.

SDS43 followed the noise and the signal. He turned left into a gully between rocks. He found three Sea Patrol frogmen, who went alongside him, two on a `chariot' and one with a Protei 5 diver-rider. "Thanks. This'll save us some trouble." one of them said to him. As they routinely swept the gully, they found what they thought they would find. The flap over his suction pump's blowoff vent opened as his tube untelescoped and traversed to starboard as without slowing or turning he routinely quickly disposed of two suspicious unidentified divers.
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But they were not all the suspects on site. Two Sea Patrol frogmen with backpack-box rebreathers swam side by side on a routine search. Their day was very much the same and boredom found a distraction. Their round mouth-and-nose masks under their eyeholes allowed talking, unlike sport divers with their gag-mouthpieces. Manchester and Leeds United football clubs, local girls, the local takeaway food shops, in turn each passed through the agenda in the deep weightless silence out of sight of sergeants, leaving remembering to look above themselves as `any other business' to be attended to when they got around to it while danger came down on them from above. They jumped with surprise as SDS43's hard 2'6"-diameter suction tube tapped them on the shoulder and something with a loaded and primed compressed-air speargun in each hand vanished up it with a clang and a bubbling and a flap of bright-colored sport scuba shop rubber on steel.
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"Oi, I just sucked something off your back." SDS43 said, "When you get back to base, lets have a 16-page report on that discussion and what it concluded and recommended, and why it was more important than staying silent and alert when on patrol. I'll send an audio file and a text file auto-transcription of that discussion to your base for you. We subs can signal each other without everybody 'earing it; you can't with your kit.". They attended to their job more thoroughly after that.
"I was more alert one time." said Dev-Null, "That was when we stopped a smuggling gang. `This #@%$ thing's had at least 20 of me mates.' one of them said. They'd got 'old of naval-type rebreathers an' tried to take us on with an 'ome-made limpet mine each. 'E detected them in time and knocked 'em out with 'is underwater ultrasound gun. They spoilt it. They 'ad good silent rebreathers, and one of 'em spoilt it by talking. Don't try it on.
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Yes, we can take on 'arder types than sport divers. Same lot as once boarded and searched some ordinary `weekend Columbus''s runabout thinkin' 'e was in another gang. That's one of the sort o' thing we Sea Patrol were brought in to stop.".
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"There's no point them 'opin' they'll go unseen at night ." said SDS43 reporting this later, "Sport scuba gear bubbling noise goes a long way underwater. And dark and bad vis[ibility] don't stop dredger-sub sonar. Same 'olds with our manned patrol subs. Their side-scan sonar can see detail much further'n divers' eyesight underwater visibility limit.".
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"And we just got four, one with a converted industrial set." another signal came in, "That subskimmer we got off that bunch, has turned out handy already.".
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"You aren't the only body who do something about shellfish poachers.". said another dredger-sub from a few miles away, "I'm CN34, I belonged to UKIFA, that's the UK Inshore Fisherman's Association. Before all your 'andy new laws and powers came in, there was a man 'ad some land by the shore. A diving gear shop 'ad 'im in their pocket. He kept lettin' sport divers use a deep inshore gully sheltered among rocks. Until one day. I phoned 'im yet again. 'E thought over the phone I was a 'uman, kept #@% offering me drinks to make me look the other way. He kept saying there weren't a scooby-doo in the county and certainly #%§$ all in 'is gully. There's a ridge between the gully and the open sea. There's a gap in it, that's dry or you'd only get a rowboat through it. But it was the 'ighest spring tide of the year. I slipped in through it and down and there were 17 of 'em at it in there taking stuff without a care in the world. I tanked the lot in a minute and an 'alf. Some of them went like a starfish, but that never works with me. I went the way I came and back to base. That was the end of that scoobydoo-ery. The trippers on shore didn't see anything.".
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"Not quite the end." I said, "We busted 'is cottage later. Enough kit for fifty scoobie-doos that 'e'd bricked up in a cellar in too much of an 'urry to dry it. Damp weather and we 'adn't the time to lay it out to dry. Our Big Burnup Machine needed some 'elp, there was too many wet wetsuits and damp stab-jackets and three fibreglass boats in its load. That sort of job's why our transportable incinerator's got that big propane tank to 'elp. I remember all too well the stale diving gear smell and mouse and rat nests when we were barrowing that lot out and shovelling it in. We're cleaning out all those furtive scoobie dens since the new law came in, even if we've got to go to the back end of Upper Cowshit Pasture Lane Ends Cottages to bust them.".
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"That was a neat bit of `gully emptying'! said Dev-Null. "I live up to my name. Every so often one a suspect tries funny tricks, but it never works. Such as when one tried to 'ug my tube and another was 'olding on inside . They try that sometimes. That's where the good old `formal and unconditional retraction' comes in. Retract the end segment, that means pull it right back inside the next, then that inside the next after if yer must, and in 'e went and knocked 'is mate loose and down they both went to join their chums in my tank. Nothing left of them next day. A gully emptier's a special tanker lorry the Corporation 'as. It 'as a pump and 'ose and tube a bit like mine. They use it to suck the muck out 'o the drain grid 'oles in the street.".
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"I 'ad the same." said CN34, "Yet another pair o' scooby-doos thought there was something valuable in a sunk speedboat and that their knives would win all fights. I got one more scratch on top of all the scratches and dents and scrapes I've got already off rocks and wreck and knives and spears as they vanished down my suction tube into my dredgings tank for processing. And they say the men've got two sorts of really fancy new kit coming to get at scoobies who try it on in out-of-the-way corners behind mountains and suchlike.".
The others knew what CN34 did inside his industrial-looking dirty cylindrical scarred hull with its rear-end propeller spinning impersonally between four hydroplanes: Interrogate them, using various "interrogation aids". Remove large metals. Keep cylinders for a while to empty them into his engine air intake. If they had rebreathers, break open all absorbent canisters and flush the resulting `cocktail' safely out to sea through a vent. Then process them the same as all the rest of the rubbish that gets in the sea in his area, whatever he may have promised them during interrogation. The next stage was silent because he had soundproof round his fragmenter. Pump everything into an advanced derivative of the fuel-cell, which oxidizes everything oxidizable leaving nothing but fully separated metals and their oxides, and simple mineral salts, and water and nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and electricity to power his motor. The warning notices on his sides made his purpose quite clear.

This way of destroying/recycling waste would later on larger scales be general in refuse disposal and recycling including clearing out old rubbish tips, recovering huge amounts of metals for re-use

Another dredging equipment designer came up with this. Some coastguard bodies use it. It is useful for various shallow-water work and security purposes. It is not fully a submarine, but it can up-end and make short dives. This version is 42 feet long (ignoring the rudder); its grab can reach 18 feet deep with its hull level, 40 feet by surface up-ending like a duck, and more by diving (up to about 55 feet with the stern end just submerged). Here photographed by its maker during a display of anti-frogman work.
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Inland

We secured both ends of the back alley. Someone had carelessly left the pub's fire-exit ajar, which saved us some time and noise. As we and our dumper burst in, we found what we thought we would find. The barman reached under his counter for something, but thought better as I fired a 4-inch nail into his shiny bar top from 20 feet away and showed yet another argumentative type that my Sea Patrol issue electromagnetic-powered nailgun was not a cordless drill. Those guns make no bang, only a slight reloading click. Two men in wetsuits, one of them examining another wetsuit, and diving gear including assembled sport-type scuba sets without official stamps, showed what had been going on there undercover after it had been made illegal. I challenged the barman as I arrested him: "Oi, bar-keep, so this is what all those `private function, keep out' evenings are!? You should have reported this lot to us, not just taken their money and kept quiet. You were sent our circular about the new diving control laws." I radioed for our prisoner van. We arrested everybody found there and cleaned the place out, including a cylinder-filler compressor hidden behind stacks of beer and food in the cellar, and went to our next call.

The bouncer was a typical untrained heavy who had got a lot of his muscle out of the steroid-syringe. We routinely silenced and gagged and handcuffed him before he could raise the alarm. As I led my squad into the café, a picture on a wall behind its counter showed its owner's or manager's likely sympathies.
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I challenged the man behind the counter. One look at my backpack blowtorch and my second-man's submachine gun told him that he better press the buttons to unlock his fire-exit door and silence its alarm. The man with the heli-backpack who had landed to secure the fire-exit came in through it.
"Oi, if you're the mâitre d', you said you were booked solid for every time we tried to book this place for our dinner, but I don't see many customers in here now, and there weren't the other times we passed.".
"Er, their plane's late, the airport rang, they'll be coming.".
"And every time?".
"And you'd want the place exclusive, I couldn't put other customers in the spare seats. And too much risk you'd get a call-out at the last minute and I'd be left with all the food cooked and I'd have to give it to the Aunt Sally [= Salvation Army] or something like when next door booked some firemen two months ago. Sorry, I don't take bulk bookings from uniforms who may get called out. And where's my doorman?".
"Your bouncer's under arrest for obstructing and assaulting Sea Patrol. We have permanent right of entry everywhere except a few secret Armed Forces areas. Here's the list of what we're ordering. We'll be back with all the men in an hour for it.".
"Steak au poivre - crêpes suzettes - etc etc, what's all this fancy stuff you want!? You can see above my head what's on our list. I don't like waterfront thugs in riotsquad uniforms barging in giving orders, and I didn't like seeing nine tons of good nearly-new sport diving gear including mine and seven RIB's vanishing into your fragmenter at one of your surrender points, and no soundproofing to stop us from hearing it being ground up.".
We left the place and took the prisoners from the pub raid back to base. They proved to be persistent offenders including underwater smuggling, and the commandant gave an order.
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Four civilians up to no good in an alley described me and another Sea Patrol man as "Now it's bloody `seeps' working our patch. @#$ off back to yer own turf.", but our issue weapons quickly overpowered them. One of them wasted his time trying to club me over the head through my helmet while my companion shot him. We called the ordinary police to take the four off our hands and hid in the factory doorway until the businessman came.
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Next, a man unwarily drying his diving gear spread out in a ground-floor conservatory after a dive in a flooded quarry found that remote rural corners inland with a thunderstorm coming are not off limits to us. Our dumper crew cleaned out a gear hoard from under the cottage across the road's hay and horse feed stack and then searched this house. Apart from large metals this lot vanished into our transportable fragmenter and ended up as power station fuel the same day.
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The rest of his bunch were away diving in a remote deep cold lake, but roadless mountains inland don't stop us.
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The jetpackmen skimmed over rough rocks and sodden moor, catching out the 23 unauthorized sport divers who had planned to finish and get away before anything could find them patrolling along steep winding cart tracks and paths only fit for mountain goats. The scoobies thought of scattering, but the moor was cold and hypothermia from exposure would have left many of them as raven food. They formed up and tried to drive at the obstruction, but a few tyres shot out stopped that.
I was in the personnel carrier's frontmost seat on the left side. We drove endless miles past bare grass and rock moor. We met little delay on the road, and stopped on the bridge. Now that the law has been changed, the driver of any vehicle caught in front of an official action vehicle in a traffic jam, can be tried in court for obstructing the police / Sea Patrol / fire brigade / whatever; repeats of this tend to concentrate people's minds as to whether each car journey is as necessary as supposed. The road went under the right edge of a mountain with its top in the low clouds and then turned right through a rock cutting and over a bridge over a small steep-sided stream valley. It was a long way from anything that looked sea-like, but we had a mission there. Only the stream and a few moor birds hid the noise of what we were there for. A cold wind blew fog past but did not blow it away.
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We all jumped out and ran across the moor, silently following our squad leader's compass reading and satellite navigator. We found the scoobies by the remote lake kitting up to dive. We charged. They were a more than usually rough lot and tried to resist with sticks and stones and diver's knives, and even now some accused us of being illegal vigilantes, but we quickly overpowered them as usual.
We broke up the unauthorized divers' gear on site. We piled up the burnable stuff. The vegetation and peat were much too wet to burn, so the squad leader's propane flamethrower and one of our men's USA army type liquid flamethrower put a quick end on site to the arrested men's kit and the cars that they had come in. The arrested scooby-doos thought they were fit because of intermittent easy weekend diving, but they soon found otherwise when we marched them out at our pace to the pickup point carrying their weight belts and cylinders to dump in a seizures hold in one of our vehicles. Yet another bunch's fuel and raw materials wasting current pleasure dive was their last. Our base commandant tried the arrested men in base that evening and we took them to the prison next morning.
By then we had new destructors that can safely consume everything including full cylinders, and the old heaps of seized and surrendered kit in our bases' storerooms and back-land were quickly power-shovelled into them.
As the men on the work said at the time:-
"That's the end of the road for that old big accumulation. Set exit grid size 1 inch and electromagnet out all metals. This lot's for power station fuel and I don't trust that place's workmen not to try to salvage bits. All the cylinders are empty."
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"And in goes that 'ome-made chariot we seized off Falmouth that time. Crunch crunch gone in 12 seconds, motor and all. This new fragmenter's really somethin'. In it goes and about time, after &%£#-knows-how many string-pullin's and silly solicitors' letters comin' 'ere tryin' to say it's research kit and nothin' to do wi' diving.".
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The destructor ran steadily, powered by generators running on wave movements and tide currents. The first-stage broke up oversize items such as boats, and pushed everything along. Anything caught between the rotating spiral impellers and the opposite spiral ridges in the inside of its casing was cut or broken apart. The mechanism did not slow or get wedged as it sliced a folded tough drysuit into five pieces and pushed them along to be broken up much smaller. Inside the impersonal steel casing of the second-stage, opposite-rotating steel blades and perforated drums effciently reduced drysuits and wetsuits and stab-jackets and fins and tangled regulator hoses and remains of boats and everything else to half-inch-sized pieces; it all ended as power station fuel.
"And what on earth's this?".
"Some sort of pressure suit. Likeliest for high flying. Police caught someone using it adapted for diving without a permit in a quarry-lake. They brought it 'ere with 'im.".
"Never bloody mind where it came from. Sling it in. The second-stage'll grind it up with everything else.".
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"And while we're at it, we better get rid of all those Aquaco diver-tugs, now the word's come through about them at last that they've decided that they are too underpowered for issue to us or the armed forces. I reckon we've got at least 500 of them 'ere.".
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Underwater again

Ten days later a university's research submarine had engine trouble and had to stop in a sheltered bay for repairs, and was harassed by underwater wreck-pickers and sightseers, but a Sea Patrol frogman on a Russian-made Protei 5 diver-rider went into action against them.
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Next day off Weymouth we had our second known run-in with the so-called `GRG' gang, as a squad of their frogmen vanished inside the industrial-looking bulk of the UK Inshore Fishermen's Association's dredger-sub CN34. That lot were known smugglers and general-purpose illegal activities men with a history of giving orders or else to people who used boats on the coast: some time ago much of its area's old big summer and weekend shellfish-poaching sport diver nuisance had vanished down his dirty scarred suction tube. A chariot was following a subskimmer. He approached from behind in sonar silence to avoid the 'skimmer surfacing and starting its outboard and running for it. He recognized the `GRG' insignia on the men's armbands as he came into light-sight range. He knocked the chariot's streamlining cover off and quickly cleaned out inside. The subskimmer's crew wore the same insignia. He knew how to tackle subskimmers. It heard the noise and swerved round to dodge as it ran for the surface, but his jabbing suction tube knocked the 'skimmer's thruster arm off as he took out its pilot first. An APS underwater rifle shot ricochetted harmlessly off CN34's hull before CN34's ultrasound knocked him out.
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After over a year of cleaning up rubbish and recovering usable metals and energy in his men's sea area, CN34 knew what to do as he efficiently demolished and tanked the little craft.
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The chariot proved to be properly made of metal, so he trailed a magnetic clamp on a line and towed the chariot back to base. Next morning the chariot had been repainted and no trace was left of this incursion.

Meanwhile we had got a new design of underwater craft, a grab-dredgersub with the grab component integral and an onboard recycler / metals separator /destructor. The top of its clamshell grab, and the surface that it rests against when stowed, have matching hinged hatches which open into a wide suction-aided intake passage leading to its onboard dredgings tank. GDS17, 30-foot version of this design, was on its way to a job looked in a 55-foot-deep gully that it knew. Bad weather had sunk a craft engaged in an inshore amphibious exercise, and the inevitables had come, allegedly only to look; but it had one order about underwater intruders. "Real right 'christmas trees' some of this lot are: this one's got a big movie camera, writing board, lobster hook, speargun, 6 wreck-hacking tools on his weightbelt, goodie bag with already a wreck-picked binocular in it." it noted as it routinely shovelled him up; he was the last of them.
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It turned, surfaced, pulled the abandoned inflatable under, deflated it, crushed its transom and collapsible thwart, folded it lengthways, and swallowed it, and it went where its crew went.

New kit

Again someone found that distance and bad roads do not stop us. I woke as usual in a barracks hut at our Fort Bovisand base. Before we were formed the huts were holiday accommodation for yet more trippers. We marched to our usual mess hut. During breakfast the sergeant made two announcements.
"We have been sent another design of raygun to test its reliability and combat-practicalness. Codenamed `Valkyrie' or `V'. Handheld, needs both hands. Made by a firm called Royloo Ltd. About a yard long.".
"What, another?" someone in the ranks muttered. Ever since the weapons labs found that rayguns were possible after all, we have been used as a testing ground for nearly every new design that came out when we have plenty else to do.
"Here it is used as a guard weapon at one of our bases. It can certainly make quite a blast. There's stories about what it can do, or what they aim to design it to do, such as vaporizing a RIB and 8 unauthorized scoobies in it in ten seconds, nothing left to tell tales or be inquest evidence.".
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"Our hidden camera at a quarry in South Wales saw some scuba divers in civilian-type kit arrive at 4.35 hours this morning already kitted for diving, but they left before our arrest squad could get there. That new kit that I showed yesterday should prevent that sort of delay that allows escape. Police road cameras are tracking their vehicles crossing Somerset:" and stated a map grid reference and issued orders. Several men left their food and ran into another building to kit up. After breakfast, the rest marched into a yard where a man in a Ministry of Defence laboratory uniform showed and explained some sanples of the new raygun.

Sea Patrol Sergeant Peter Ellingsley recorded in his logbook: "Arrived at Langton Cottage, Sutton Lane Ends.", and the time, "All the suspect vehicles are here, and some more cars and a van.".
A blasting noise of small jet motors outside disturbed the meeting from their dinner. Some of them looked out.
"What - !!!?" one of them exclaimed, "Somehow I don't think that's Kalki Avatar dropping in - and behind him a squad more of them flying in but without the anatomical extra bits.Uhh, that Ellingsley's been promoted, and I don't think we'll be doing any more scuba diving from here. Conserving energy and metals was a good idea, but it led to that new law about diving being for work and the armed forces only, and all our kit including my good made-to-measure drysuit 'll be power station fuel before tomorrow night. Put that shotgun down, Alec, you never resist the Sea Patrol with guns if you value your ... akkhh, too late, he's broken a window and fired a dose of that new antiriot gas in. ...".
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We pushed in and searched. Ellingsley's bulky electromagnetic-powered nailgun disposed of three farm dogs that went to bite us. We arrested and put restraints on 13 people in various rooms. Then another job to do again, another manury stable to search, another dusty musty horse feed stack to look under, as well as the house to search.
"Oh no, these creatures again. They belong on the racing page, not as the real thing." one of our men said, "And that one's a stallion, I don't trust them any more than bulls, from what I've heard.". But he had to help us to shoo them out into a field and get the stable's tools. "I didn't join up to muck out stables after a load of manurous horses." he said, but his shovel hit something hard under the old straw and wood-wool litter. Under the ammonia-reeking old bedding and dried-out horse, er, deposit was a hatch in the floor. Under the hatch were steps leading down into an old air-raid shelter.We left two men to guard our jetpacks and went down, and found what we had come for. Ellingsley radioed base. While we interrogated the prisoners, our collection vehicles came.
"You're not putting our good scuba gear in that. At least we can keep it in memory of the old days." one of the prisoners said angrily, straining at his handcuffs, looking at the powerful-looking hopper-fed mechanism on the back of our compactor truck.
"We are." I said, "It packs tighter and the power station's solid fuel feed acts easier if wetsuits and stab-jackets and regulator hoses are broken up to at least hand size. This stuff's no use to us.We've got our issue frogman's kit. And the charge of not surrendering it still holds. Diving's work, diving gear's work kit, not for mucking about in for fun. And watch it grinding up this RIB: it's really something.", as a brightly-colored RIB vanished endways into the 8 feet by 3 feet wide hopper with loud crunchings as rotating blades inside a steel casing broke up hard fibreglass and tore thick rubber.
"A club in London had better sense." Ellingsley said, "They brought all their gear on a five-ton truck and sailed their four inflatables to our base in the docks in time during the surrender period and were let away without charges. The boats had names of wartime German battleships on them. Scoobydoos are like that. But all four went in our destructor just the same.".
We loaded them into our prison van and took them back to base. The lorry carrying the ground-up seizures turned off and went to a power station. One of our dumpers took more seized scuba gear past holiday caravans which we had not yet cleared away, to our gear-scrapping workshop.
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When the base commandant tried them that evening, nine of them were found guilty merely of "knowing and not informing authority" and were fined and released. But four were persistent offenders against the diving laws with a long record of shellfish poaching and taking wreck and evading us, and our new pneumatic rifles each powered from a seized stab-jacket's inflation cylinder settled the matter.
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We next went to Torquay for a liaison meeting with a French CRS riot police man who came across from Brest in Brittany. Someone with yet another ex-Russian IDA71 tried to spy on the meeting, but our new kit stopped him in time before he planted listening bugs. He was one of the venturesome types who filled one of his set's absorbent canisters in Russian military mode with potassium superoxide, which releases oxygen as it absorbs carbon dioxide. That is dangerous stuff and we do not use it, as the CRS man's riot shotgun with a drum magazine and my tommygun showed when I flew over him and shot his breathing set open to force him to stay on the surface.
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When I got back to base, Sergeant Ellingsley was mending a small rip in his drysuit. He stretched it out in both hands and used both hands to mend the rip. Seeing his arms still gave me that confused feeling: two plus two makes too many. Nature got things badly wrong with him.

"Man in a dinghy said 'e was birdwatching, showed a university `boat use for research' permit when 'e set off, but I was chariotting and surfaced and caught 'im 'auling someone else's [lobster] pots. Not diver. 'E went for me with a thick stick with a nail through it. Kevlar doesn't usually tear like this. 'E went aggressive and said 'e was #@&£ entitled to since 'e'd no living else, since we stopped 'im from taking trippers round the light'ouse and back. Didn't stop me from tipping 'is boat up and 'e went in. Then 'e lost all 'is bottle and went all `help mummy mummy I can't swim.'. I just got a call saying our Lancashire unit arrested a man at that university for selling `boat use for research' permits for money.".
"Likely we did." I said, "People have been using up far too much for far too long.".
"On the way back I went to an Indian [takeaway] for a curry and the man looked scared and started doin' puja to me till I told 'im not to. I keep getting that. I've 'eard what it's like for us in the Caribbean. #@%$ of a big job stopping ordinary pleasure boating there, as well as scoobydoo diving. We've got a base on Great Exuma island in the Bahamas. Used to be a fancy boat marina. On its back-land there's an 'eap the size of a coal tip of pleasure boats we've taken off people. Some of them with £$@# enormous motors just to carry a few people. The drug barons don't like it, there's much less boat traffic now for the cocaine runners to 'ide among.
These jetpacks are 'andy things over there. They can fly faster and farther than 'elipacks. Two teenagers in fancy leather jackets got 'old of a boat and 'ad a go at sailing, got caught in an 'urricane. Two of us with jetpacks managed to get them out through its eye. Real strange place, that great 'ole through the middle of it, blue sky and that great wall of cloud around. It's #@% 'igh and cold and thin air getting 'igh enough to get above the wind in an 'urricane. They got frostbite and 'ypothermia, tried to blame us. We dumped them in the cop station in Nassau.".
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The three new man-catching sentient-computer-controlled small missile-like planes called Autograbs flew into the Sea Patrol base.
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They sometimes span endways like some torpedoes do. The Sea Patrol men knew that that was not a control fault but to quieten the foreign diving marine biology expedition that was tanked in their holds. The expedition had no British diving permit or boat-use permit but had decided to chance it and set off in a small boat from a 200-foot ship that claimed it was a small freighter. One of our patrol boats had challenged them. They ran for it, and, as several times before, our boat lost them among rocks. But the Autograbs flew straight over the rocks and surf and reached them before they could get their red powerboat to land and hide onshore. One Autograb stowed the expedition's surface support men in its tank as the rest grabbed the surfacing divers. As it flew back to base to unload, the Autograb felt its tank contents struggling and hitting about with things, but its tank is bulletproof.
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Meanwhile we identified their parent craft and set off by air and sea to arrest it.
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It was an ex-trawler about 120 feet long. By now we also had discovered the usefulness of our new backpack frogman's rebreathers. The boat's crew sealed themselves in. Our landing party blasted a sealed hatch and a bridge door open. The ship's crew resisted with guns. They had clearly been transporting the marine biologists as a cover or a sideline. After a sharp fight we took the ship over. Our frogmen threw rope ladders up and came on board; their breathing sets and diving suits protected them when the crew squirted chemicals at us. Sergeant Ellingsley got into the hold. Someone shot at him. He held onto a pipe with his first right hand while he fired an explosive grenade from his teargas grenade gun with his second right hand and first left hand, breaking the starboard engine's exhaust pipe. As the below-decks quickly filled with engine fumes, shouting and panic started and more men than we had expected baled out from many sorts of hiding holes and surrendered, or jumped into the water and tried to swim away. Three of them hid weapons and pretended to surrender to get near us armed; after that we shot all we found; documents found and that many weapons on board showed that it was not merely a sport diving liveaboard.
"We were only taking them for a swim." one of the prisoners bleated, "And we've still got men in the water, we aren't just leaving them.".
"I know, our sonar saw them and our hydrophones heard a mile away the din their noisy bubbly air scuba was making. We've cleaned them up.".
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As we approached their boat, I and some others had slid into the water, We got near them undetected with our silent efficient automatic backpack rebreathers. Our ultrasound guns set to scan mode saw them long before their eyesight could have seen us in the typical low-visibility British seawater. I and my assigned companion Sea Patrolman Stephen Winterley saw that two of them each had a powerful-looking speargun in one hand and a long knife in the other hand. Better safe than sorry when arresting some character who has seen plenty of the steroid-syringe. We set our ultrasound guns to maximum power and aimed and fired, making no "bang" noise that others could hear. The two dropped their weapons and went limp and slowly sank. Something above me made an angry noise into his mouthpiece and grabbed at my breathing set as if it had been air scuba, finding no projecting valve and connection assembly to hold. While he was trying in vain to reach over my rebreather's smooth hard rounded front end to find its breathing tubes, I rolled over, breaking his grip, much faster with my training and streamlined kit than he could manoeuvre about with his awkward bulky sport air scuba. He saw my ultrasound gun and seemed to decide not to go for either of his weapons. But I had seen a knife on his left leg, and I saw another weapon or tool tucked into his stab-jacket, and I am trained to do one thing in this sort of confrontation, and never mind risking the trick of pretending to surrender. By now I was back-downwards below him. I brought my right hand holding my ultrasound gun forwards as I set it to maximum power, and shoved him off with its muzzle against his chest in the gap between his stab-jacket's sides and its two front straps. Its ultrasound beam liquified most of his heart. Meanwhile Steve caught one of the scoobies and hauled him up to our boat to be landed and questioned, and on the way disposed of the last of the gang, who was using a camera. We found the above two images in his camera.
We cleared their boat and switched its starboard engine off and took it into Portland. We found GRG matter on board, but not again for some time, and we wondered where they had gone to, and whether or not they had plans to grow big with many branches across the world. We found a common assortment of illegal goods, including drugs and stolen valuables. We found that their own name for themselves is "Group 169": the supposedly "unlucky number" squared: likely intended to mean "unlucky to those that we act against". We found two underwater diver-lockout airlocks. We got a useful diving-type boat and a small helicopter out of it. Next day one of our dredger-subs went there and cleaned up below.

The base's seized-gear-breakers were busy afterwards. Some of the seized scuba sets were converted to industrial breathing sets to sell to help pay the bills. The culprits were tried the same night by the base's commandant and went to prison - luckily. Some later Autograbs have onboard destructors. Five of the arrested men were ordered to not idle paperwork or trading business but proper work, i.e. hard manual work, in a secure factory, and were overjoyed to be told that they would get their scuba sets back - until they saw what the sets had been converted into, with the usual design features to prevent use underwater deeper than about ten feet depth pressure: stab-jackets cut down to plain backpack harnesses, new cylinder-clamps, regulators set so they will not work at over 5 feet depth pressure, and in this case war-surplus gasmasks as fullface masks (Z & K don't waste much).
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And seized twin-hose aqualungs often became this: out of water there is no need for a return hose.
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Or sometimes this: here is a use where was report of asbestos in the mortar in the wall.
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Soon after this, we got more type GDS19 grab-dredger-subs. It has an advanced derivative of the fuel-cell, which recovers useful elements, and energy of oxidation to run on, from many sorts of rubbish and dredgings. The end products are water, carbon dioxode, nitrogen, simple mineral salts, and separated metals and their oxides. It can use surplus energy to make boat motor fuel from water and carbon dioxide. And, well equipped with long-range advanced sonar, it is a useful underwater patroller. It looks impersonally much the same whatever is in its dredgings tank being tracelessly digested. It comes in various sizes: usually 30 or 40 or 60 feet long.
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And in its purpose as described to the public: dredging.
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Its 30-foot version, intended as a small easily-transported demonstration model and to work in small corners, can submerge in water 10 feet deep, and get through a gap 7.5 feet wide, such as among rocks, in shallow water, and in harbors. It was bought in bigger numbers than expected by various official bodies. When they are assigned to naval or para-naval units or work harbours and inshore fishing ports, their computer-brains develop a rough waterfront mentality like their human associates, as a shellfish poacher in a gully among rocks found the hard way as he disappeared down its intake in a tangle of his air hoses and kit and air scuba bubbles with a leg folded forwards.
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Further along it found a lot that set off after shellfish and wreck in an inflatable boat, but they did not come back in it. Many bunches of furtive 'weekend Cousteaus' went back away inland with their kit still dry when they saw a Type GDS19 floating awash nearby. A scuba club's committee shellfish poaching together without their club in a gully among rocks ignored the warning and found out the hard way: no trace remained next morning; their club, left leaderless, held its last meeting a week later and agreed that their time was over, and hid their diving gear, and pocketed the club's funds, and disbanded. A 30-foot GDS19 in one dive can easily stow a RIB-full of intruding scuba divers and the crushed remains of their RIB in its dredgings tank, and overnight tracelessly dispose of everything; it can operate upside down.
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Unlike semi-submersible dredger boats, they can stay out-of-sight underwater permanently except for sometimes a snorkel and a radar head and a periscope showing.
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Sea Patrol top command decided that it was time that we "met the public" some time at an open discussion. People demanded return of seized gear, or compensation for its value. People demanded return to the old freedom to dive at will. The meeting became disorderly and rowdy and then violent, and our three delegates had to be rescued by an action squad of more of our men, and it ended with arrests and trials for affray and assault, and a big demonstration with placards outside; and that was the end of that go at trying "public relations".

He meets his old club

Sea Patrolman Frederick Hexton reported: "When I left school and started work in a factory, I joined <placename> Diving Club. Independent club. It was affiliated to the BSAC, but it got nothing out of that except bills for affiliation fees, so it ditched that. At first OK. But I am teetotal and aim to stay that way. Alcohol messes up people's lives so much. The rest of them and their drink culture in their clubhouse after the weekly hour swimming and lecture didn't like that, and I got on the wrong side of the social barrier between the sober and the drunk that develops over the evening. They met unofficially on other evenings in the week also, and I had other things to do in evenings than keep on attending two or three drinking sessions a week five miles from home to arrange dives, and so many of them were cosy little inner groups that didn't want anyone else tagging along. So, if I found when and where the dive was, I simply turned up there at the time listed, and they didn't like that. They got uncooperative and then hostile, and when I became the club's bad-name, they kept treating me as that. They got silly and practical-jokey and telling me silly wrong information and suchlike, and I can't take that sort of thing forcing me to be wary like a hunted deer when I went there to relax. None of them ever admitted to having a spare space on a dive. I put up with that for a while, and then left diving and got other hobbies.

After the Sea Patrol came into action, I went to one of their bases to see if I could join them, and they accepted me. No alcohol or smoking allowed. Relief, I could be sober with sober men all the time and no demands for rounds of drinks and no drunken sillyness and no risk of picking up other people's lung cancer, and any attempt at practical jokery (which is often inspired by alcohol, which is not allowed among us, as the rule is that we are on duty all the time) was sat on so hard that the men didn't try it on. And thank God no "hazing" or suchlike, like I had heard of in the news about armies. (When World War I started, the King and Lord Kitchener knew that much of the trouble among men in the army is drink-fuelled, and the two wanted to ban alcohol in Britain until the war ended, but the idea was not taken on. (And in reality: Author)) And gum-chewing not allowed: scruffy slovenly mouth habit and often making speech unclear, and often we need to be understood clearly first time. And the best and hardest training on land and on water and underwater to make us as action-effective as possible.

That club was not hit in our first two days of takeouts, and when news got about it quickly moved and hid its gear and met there quietly; a new girl member handling their post did not know things and circulated my home address as well as the rest's to tell them the new place, and the post sent the letter on to me at my unit's base. Endless memories of being kept out of things, and trying in vain to get their attention from alcohol-fuelled wordy random pointless chatter to arranging a dive, and mocking treatment, surfaced, and I told my commander where they now met. He ordered me to lead a Sea Patrol arrest-and-seize-kit raid squad there against my former club; I obeyed very willingly. We parked behind the address. One of my men crashed a bolted door open with a dumper, and I and my second-man came in first. Club members in there checking and mending diving gear, two in wetsuits, knew me and looked in dismay and astonishment at my years-well-known face but through a riotsquad helmet visor under a helmet forehead badge above the new action uniform that I had come back wearing and leading other overmuscular armed men dressed the same.
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The club diving officer exclaimed startled: `Their leader's that Fred Hexton come back joined them to get back on us!!'.
The club chairman's mind, startled at the mismatch of my very familiar face and formerly his subordinate, but now in my new threatening-looking kit, went into some sort of `error mode' and guessed or hoped badly wrong, and he ordered: `You again! You can't come in, and certainly not you and your mates dressed like that, silly rag stunt to scare us. We're not playing your game. Get out!!', and some club members reached for weapons, but that was a bad idea against Sea Patrol. Our mobile-phone-jammer prevented various trouble. He thought (or hoped) that our first raids known of via newspapers and television were a once-off after drugs or something or that things would slacken off after a time and drift back to like they were before, or that the whole thing was an exercise or a false alarm, and that my men's boilersuit-like uniforms were just boilersuits from a workman's kit shop plus home-made badges. Some members obeyed him by habit; others knew better and went into immobile fear at the likely result of the basic error that he had made.

I ordered `Unauthorized breathing set diving and kit possession. OK, squad, clean out the place's basement and the cars in the car park, arrest everyone and load up, search the place, and back to base.'.
The chairman protested: `That's valuable gear that we need for forthcoming dives. Some of it's members' property and you can't have it. We don't like rough joke stunts. Get out and clear off...', until one of my squad electric-shock-prodded and handcuffed and gagged him. My second-man fired a shot, destroying the bar phone. The meaning of the bang did not register, and they got aggressive and angry and tried to bounce us out, but we were well toughened and trained in what to do with our issue batons and electric-shock prods, with or without riotshields. My second-man fired two more warning shots; someone, already angry and frightened and confused, and not familiar with pneumatic rifle noise, complained:`Now it's firecrackers.'. I fired my flamegun, which made a yard-long hot propane flame, and not a thin jet of harmless play water; everybody there at last realized that it and our guns and our purpose were real and should better be obeyed, and the shocking intrusion of a armed trained arrest-and-seize hard-squad where the diving club had always operated safely and legally. I ordered them:
`You lot, form a chain up your basement stairs to help us pass all that gear in there up out!'.
One of them had found another phone and called the police, but after the Bretonside incident, the police phone-answerer knew that we are a new legally empowered force and not armed robbers, and said so. They saw reality and lost their defiance and obeyed me and my men, and we seized all their gear and records, and unbolted and removed the air-compressor in their basement; some of our men were docker types and could heave and barrow that sort of load about easily. We arrested all persons found there, brought them into one room, found and proved their names and addresses, and I spoke to them:

`Right. You lot are charged with: Uauthorized possession of underwater-capable breathing apparatus. Resisting Sea Patrol. As listed in your personal and club diving logs, unauthorized breathing set diving after the Sea Patrol Enabling Order [= SPEO] came into effect. You can accept the penalties now, or you can appeal to my base commander back at base at formal trial later today.'.
The club chairman (who had been un-gagged) objected: `You'll have to adjourn. We need to contact and consult solicitors, and ...'.
I answered: `No time-wasting. Today while everybody's memories are fresh, and while we've still got hold of you and don't have to round you lot up again from all over the area several weeks after. How do each of you plead?.'.
The chairman answered: `This court-martial-type procedure is totally irregular. Not allowed legal representation ...'.
I interrupted: `The SPEO, that's Sea Patrol Enabling Order, states this as usual procedure in cases brought by the Sea Patrol. It's been described in the newspapers. This isn't Jarndyce v. Jarndyce and we won't have time-wasting. We belong on patrol, not waiting about in court buildings. Luckily for you lot here, another amnesty period to hand in unauthorized diving gear's running.'.
I started to go through the seized diving logs and reading out names and dates and places. One resignedly put a hand up and interrupted: `OK, guilty, get it over with, I've got to get home.', and listed four places and dates, and many others in succession did similarly. I imposed a fine on each according to how many dives his diving log said that he had made since the SPEO order came in. We took all their records and gear away. They knew that we now knew their home addresses, and later they brought much more unauthorized diving gear to amnesty surrender points. We sorted and destroyed their gear next day, in the weather that would have blown up on them at sea if that fair-weather-minded lot had gone on the dive that they had been planning.".
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Their old and new club meeting addresses are now private houses. Hexton went on to be an effective hard Sea Patrol man.

One member was spared this: Leonard Heath, who Hexton knew from old times; he had been better to Hexton than the rest were, and often took him on dives, until pressure of work and family stopped him; no diving gear of his own was there. Hexton recognized him early, and as soon as he could found an excuse to call to interrogate him separately and alone, and quietly let him go uncharged.
The Sea Patrol learned much from that raid and the club's plans for future dives, and saw that their interviewer's gamble of admitting Hexton despite a history of sport diving, had worked. The club's members remember well "the day that that arsehole Fred Hexton came back as a `seep' with a squad and busted us, that traitor diving all he wants with them while we can't dive any more.", and wish that they had treated him better before.

The cleanup continues

Rival top organizations in the same country caused trouble which spoilt the solidity of sport diving: in the USA, several national sport diving top organizations disputed about many points, and matters got close to a Federal diving control and licencing system being imposed, but these disparate groups saw the warning in time and united into one. In Britain once, someone in the BSAC said that he would not accept even Cousteau on a dive if he presented only a PADI (= Professional Association of Diving Instructors) qualification (and in realiity: Author). Through all this, as time passed and the world's energy and minerals got scarcer, a future was expected when the nation would get less and less able to support a national diving and boating effort that size and doing little useful work but only swimming about and using fuel, and materials and fuel and factory time used making so much gear for them; the same happened out of the water with mass public car use, wasting fuel and forcing the transport authority to tear up green countryside with more and more motorways, until control will have to come.

But free-and-easy diving for all has been stopped; "the duck has swallowed the frog", as we say, the job has been done, although with a long hard effort against its size and slippery squirming; sport diving has been stowed away and disposed of and an end made of it. (Some (not only us) say "swallowing a frog" for an undesirable or difficult job that needs to be done and got over with.) But, although the rule is "dive only for work", the Navy had already found that ship's divers with long diveless waits between being needed, got stale and out of practice, and had diving accidents, and in the end were replaced by a corps of divers who were flown out to any ship that needed diving done. So work divers including naval and army divers needed refresher dives in intervals between work. Sport divers did not have this risk, as many of them dived often and regularly, unless prevented by weather; and the difference had to be decided between a pleasure dive and a keeping-in-practice dive. Even before sport diving started, one group of early naval divers using old-type frogmen's rebreathers had complained about not being allowed to dive for pleasure between work and training dives. And some have pointed out that the locally-based part-time naval diving units seem rather numerous and big, and willing to admit both sexes and a wide age group, and their refresher dives frequent; they are paid for largely by their members. But their top command are now naval men, who are ready to listen to any complaints about their units' activities.

After we were brought in, we in a few weeks of hard physical action did the main part of what what paper-shuffling committees had not decided how to do in many years. Sport scuba divers' habits made it easier for us: too often a club's committee went off separately in remote deep water, and were tracked easily by the underwater noise of their boat going miles out to sea, and we or something caught them; often this was a patrolling Sea Patrol or naval 30-foot or 40-foot dredger-sub, which shovelled them up boat and all, away from nosy eyes, and a traceless end, leaving their club "beheaded" without its leaders and trainers and most experienced members. Sometimes the rest of the club chose a new committee from among themselves and carried on. There was no provable public knowledge (rather than suspicions and television discussion speculations and newspaper speculations) why until it was too late. Splinter groups in easier inshore waters were more often seen and arrested, or rescued-and-arrested, a bunch at a time. Some hid their gear and waited, and waited, and may still be waiting.

Or one of our new 42-foot short-dive-submersible grab-dredgers did the job; this splinter-grouping club committee thought that it was sinking and that soon they could explore its wreck.
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But they soon found that they had guessed wrong. (Its propeller is on an azipod.)
Click here for image. Got them.
Click here for image. Job done.
Click here for image. Back onto its patrol route.
Very many sport scuba divers across the country in a large-scale determination tried to carry on as before, hoping to swamp us and make our legal remit a "dead letter", or mentally unable to accept that things had changed, and we had a long job catching them one or a group at a time, and on arrest they often fought back hard; but finally they gradually took note and hid or surrendered their kit, and the public mass lobby acting against the new control laws and regulations gradually got less; after that, shellfish and submerged wreck were left alone, as had been before public access to scuba gear came. Dredger-subs and similar cannot be abolished, because they are bringing in so much cleanly separated metals that have been lost or dumped in water down the ages.

Breathing apparatus diving is now only for work and the armed forces, as it had been for most of history, and for most people it is now again something that a small set of risk-hardy other people do. A man wanting to become a licenced diver can apply to the diving authority, but it goes easier if he is recommended by an existing licenced diver or by a firm or department which employs divers. He goes through an official diving training course, longer and harder than the BSAC's training course, fulltime, not an hour a week swimming followed by an evening in a pub. Or after training he may be directed to the part-time naval diving branch.

Former sport divers remember when they could breathing set dive at will. They have reunions, and show photos and videos of dives that they have had, and photos of scuba gear that they have had, and of places where they had dived, memories of a world now closed to them unless they can find a diving job that does useful work underwater.

Likewise a time will some time come when men will remember the old years when they could drive cars at will and book far flights in enormous fuel-greedy airliners, until approaching exhaustion of natural supplies forces an end, and the new mass-availability Golden Age that started in the 19th century will be over. We keep an eye on such activities, but no more than that, and they know that we or someone will find out any cases where remembering changes into illegal re-enacting, as still happens from time to time, ever less often as years pass. As cheap mass far flight in airliners ends, so will scuba tourism kept running to get "foreign exchange" in some warm-water countries.

Back to the present. Staff of a small diving centre with diving gear shop by a rocky bay popular with sport divers, were out front looking out northwestwards straight out at the sea discussing:
"Why haven't we been raided yet? Likely they're keeping us for legal - licenced divers'll need somewhere to buy kit.".
"I know, we've had some here already, all OK with a BADL [=Breathing Apparatus Diving Licence] card including a small Sea Patrol badge in one corner."
"I wish business'd pick up. Customers have been few, and many of them furtive, since they came.".
"NADU Chester, that's Chester's Naval Auxiliary Diving Unit, one of those part-time units, has been here a few times and bought air and lunches while they were here. Now I know what a BSAC branch looks and acts like when it's been digested and recycled through the Navy's system, their uniforms and saluting and marching and unit badges and all the same diving gear. End of the BSAC, and the "seeps" took all their records. And what are those builders doing at <placename> across the bay? The road in to us is narrow, plus usually too many parked cars for a big collection lorry or a big personnel carrier to get down here easily.".
"What's that in the bay?", and he reached for his binoculars, "A landing-craft with a 'seep' badge on - let's hope it's an exercise, else someone's going to cop it."
"It's turning our way, and something awash starboard side of it, it's a dredger-sub, like on the telly news that time, lucky we're well up on land out of reach of it. It's left the landing-craft and it's coming here.".
The coast road there ran partly along a rocky irregular coast with beach between the rocks. In front of the centre the dredger-sub reached a narrow gap beween two large rock outcrops that defined a small cove; in the middle, the road was on a short seawall built over old beach, to avoid making a sharp kink. Further northeast, the road made a longer shortcut across a small inlet, with behind it a patch of flat grassy land that once was beach.
"Crumbs, it's high in the water, it could never blow [= inflate] itself that high - it's run aground, there'll be trouble - no, it's still moving - it's coming towards us right up out - my God, it's got mechanical legs, looks like four pairs of them. Looks like the landing craft's going for the yacht centre's slip [next along to the northeast]. And three men with heli-backpacks taking off, they're not planning to let us run away inland.".
They could only watch scared while the 30-foot GDS19 dredger-sub hauled itself completely out of the sea up the beach with a deep-pitched blasting of hot diesel exhaust up from its sub-snorkel, turned right, and heaved its onboard-destructor-equipped propeller-ended bulk up a steep slope with more engine blasting and scraping and clanking of steel feet on hard Precambrian rock; each leg had an untelescoping segment instead of a knee. Its ominous steel underbelly cleared the top of the roadside wall as it stepped over, and turned left, and walked along the road a bit, and turned again into their centre's drive. A car hooted impatiently, until its driver saw Sea Patrol and decided that it was wiser not to be impatient or to photograph the events. Meanwhile the landing craft rounded the right headland (once a small tidal island, but now joined to the coast road by landfill with paving over with yachts standing about on it) and ran to land at a slip used by the yachtsmen. Sea Patrol men in full action kit ran, and their squad-leader drove a building-site-type dumper, from there to the diving centre's drive, met the sub, and went in with it.
No point doing anything but stay there and let the Sea Patrol men arrest them; the heli-backpack men had landed to block escape inland. The squad-leader on the dumper ordered them:
"Unauthorized possession of underwater-capable breathing apparatus and other diving equipment. In trading quantities and not only a bit for your own use.".
"Licenced divers have bought here, we checked all their licences. We thought you were leaving us as a permitted scuba gear dealer.".
"And you were supplying unlicenced. We've been checking what you've been sending away by private goods deliverers. If we were keeping you as licenced, we'd have told you by now. <Placename> across the bay's going to be the licenced diver-trainers and kit-suppliers round here. It's got more land and its own little bay much bigger than this centre's water.".
"Why couldn't they have left diving as it was? It was being run all right. Plenty of good sport for people, and they helped in several matters, and it made jobs for people. Then you lot charged in from nowhere and changed the diving law with no warning and no chance for anyone to object properly. We advertised plenty before you started, we thought you'd know about us. We've too much kit here for us to take it all in car-bootfuls [UK "boot" = USA "trunk", here] to the nearest collection point."
"It's been in the newspapers why we started. You should have told us you had a lot of kit here and we'd have sent and collected it during the amnesty. We and the new diving law are not a wasp and will not go away if ignored. Let's see your list of who you supplied air to.".
"We don't keep a list. We've enough else to do, and we respect customers' privacy. We aren't the KGB.".
"Well, you should have. Four unlicenced bought air off you yesterday and dived outside the bay near here.".
"And their car is still there. What happened!? How do you know!? They were going to come back here after to say that they were all right. When they didn't come back, someone rang the coastguard, but nowadays that means he likely was put through to you. We thought that you were starting to leave this area alone.", a staff member said in alarm.
The dredgersub's sentient electronic brain knew, in its hard hydroplane and propeller and dredging gear equipped bulk standing above them on land. Its four labels (one on each quarter), each with Sea Patrol's name and badge and its number, and ominously including "WARNING ONBOARD DESTRUCTOR", hinted. The Sea Patrol men guessed right but did not say, but at once pushed into the shop and started taking its stored diving gear out and stacking it in the dredger-sub's grab, which had hinged down and lay wide open on the ground, and came forward a bit as its forearm untelescoped. An aimed propane flamethrower told nosy or protesting public to keep away; seeing its small pilot flame was enough warning for them. When the grab was full it closed, and re-docked itself at the sub's intake, and hatches opened inside, and there were scrapings, and the grab opened and dropped, again empty. The dumper man brought in loads of seizures from remoter odd corners and what people in nearby addresses thought it wise to hand in. Soon the centre's shop and workshop and compressor room were empty. It went with the men to the centre's back rooms, where they found a bit more diving gear, and irrelevant sleeping and residential stuff. Its view of what inland is like did not impress it much: a lot of dry heavy fuel-expensive distance where it could not use its underslung dredging arm properly.
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There it turned and walked back down the drive with its dredgings tank packed full, along the road, over the wall, down the rock slope to the beach, at the mouth of the cove scrambled part-submerged over rocks now nearly exposed by the ebbing tide, to sea deep enough to float it, folded its legs back along its hull, and motored away awash. Whether it handed its load over for licenced use later, or turned it in a "fuel-cell" into water and carbon dioxide and nitrogen and simple mineral salts and separated metals or their oxides, and energy of oxidation used for propulsion, remains to be found out. The heli-backpack men flew back over, raising dust and grit with their exhausty rotor downwash. The man who lived opposite the yacht area saw events and decidedly did not want to dangle from a parachute-type harness out in cold upper-air weather with a small helicopter engine with rotor strapped to his back, instead of riding in an enclosed helicopter; by now he had the sense not to ask Sea Patrol when they would likely be finished and away. The men went back to the yacht slip, and their leader on his dumper, and the arrested diving centre staff with them, onto the landing craft, and back to base. The staff saw their gear and business gone, leaving only the sub's land-legs' foot scrapes, and its steel footprints and waterfront-minded men's hobnailed boot prints on some soft ground by the drive. The diving centre building is now two private houses, one front and one back.
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Arrest and cleanup elsewhere by the same bay. In goes an ex-Russian IDA71 rebreather: for us, a sign that they were up to something furtive and not merely swimming about for fun.
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A 30-foot GDS19 on land legs accompanied two riotsquad-equipped inshore fishermen (one with a backpack propane flamethrower) to an action seizing and destroying unauthorized diving gear on coastal land. Hauling its onboard-destructor-equipped bulk out of water upslope at human running speed made its engine blow black diesel smoke, but it did the job.
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A liveaboard-type boat about 100 feet long used as its crew's permanent residence turned into Swanage on its way up the English Channel. Its skipper said that he was calling in for supplies and carrying on. One of our patrol craft went out to him. We can act as an immigration officer. His boat was clean, but he had scuba gear on board.
He complained to our commander: "Yes, I know about your new diving law, gone real hard and tight, and other countries look like imitating. It's still free for all where I come from, thankfully.".
"It won't be for long. Resources must be conserved. That diving gear goes in its storage and I will put my unit's seal on the storage's door or hatch. If that seal is found broken before you have left our sea area or after over-early return to it, then same as if we'd seen you using it: we seize it, and it goes into my patroller's onboard destructor, and you to prison if you can't pay the fine, and no time-wasting going to courts on land.".
"But I was hoping to catch up with a bit of diving while I was here." .
"Sport diving, no. Someone had to make a first stand about wasting fuel and materials. Work diving, you should have asked us first.".
"OK, OK, I can't do it here any more. Sorry. I'll just buy my supplies and go.".
We watched him; he called at port and went away at cruising speed and made no suspicious stops.

Next day at Amlwch Sea Patrol base (set up in a natural rock inlet harbour on the north coast of Anglesey) a man based there was watching a screen which cordinated readings from underwater side-scan sonars and hydrophones along the coast. A few local inshore fishermen used the inlet also, and some of them or their sons had joined the Sea Patrol. Now, the screen-watcher called out:
"This big cargo ship here [pointing to an echo on the screen] that anchored waiting for the tide: there's been scuba bubbling and metal clanking there for the last few minutes."
A few minutes after, the noises stopped, and then the ship moved away and got up speed.
The base-commander answered: "Leave it. I'm not wasting fuel again over a crewman freeing a stuck anchor. They're allowed to in that sort of emergency - if he radioed to ask us first, or if he reports it to us afterwards.".
So the matter ended. But Sea Patrol Unit Amlwch had been very busy in previous weeks: the shore around Anglesey had been very popular with sport divers in the old days, and they had needed much teaching that "no" with a new law behind it means "no".
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We "cut our teeth" on unauthorized breathing set divers, and batoncharging to move gangs of nuisance beggars and touts away from port areas, and breaking up demonstrations, and suchlike, and some thought we would be no good against people who could fight back; but we had already done harder riskier jobs, and soon did so again.
Click here for image. We had raided pubs and other buildings used for meetings before.
Click here for image. But this next case was more serious. An old pub near the coast was suspected, and our base-commander sent us to raid it.
An undercover man before us had duplicated its front door key, but we found the door unlocked. We ran in, running our mobile-phone-jammer. The gang was all in a side room. A man in a fawn sweater and a bib-and-brace overall was on guard with a large powerful-looking propane flame gun with its pilot light ready lit; its flame reached a foot long before our man #2408 shot his trigger hand and then finished him off. As the trigger finger slackened, the flame stopped, leaving a hot smell of burnt propane, and thankfully it did not set anything alight. A man in a red sweater, angered, jumped on #2408 from behind a wall angle from stacked crates with a hand-held injector-pistol, clearly not designed only for medical use in hospitals: a very close-quarters weapon, but better than nothing, and unless we had with us the antidote for its contents ... #2495 running in behind shot the injector man, while two men in mid-grey business suits ran out from left, one with a baseball bat, and the other, more dangerously, with a pump-action shotgun with a pistol grip - we know how effective they are, we also use them - my issue pneumatic rifle made its rather quiet compressed-air firing noise twice as I quickly disposed of both of them, and the shotgun shot merely damaged the tiled floor. They had had an easy way to stop that - to "come quietly" and not to use weapons against us. Our training to quick reaction and bullets cast from seized scuba weights propelled by power stored in re-used seized sport scuba stab-jacket inflation cylinders on our rifles had come between us and shotgun blasts and extensive deep propane flame burns in defence of the big consignment of hard drugs and gang weapons that we found in the crates and the briefcases.
Click here for image.
As we were emptying the illegal store out, the baseball bat man, shamming dead, tried to make an alarm call on a mobile phone, but my left hobnailed boot on his hand stopped him - and on the way back to base I had the job of continuously playing with the phone's controls to stop it from timing out and going into resting mode until we could examine its memory, or set it to "no password needed", as we did not know its password to reawake it. Its memory and seized papers revealed much. His bullet wound proved treatable and he ended up in prison, luckily for him - it has been known for captured drug gangs to be summarily disposed of with a lethal-sized injection each of their own drug, if enough was found on them. We added the shotgun and the flamegun to unit issue. We arrested the pub's barkeeper for not reporting suspicious meetings. We examined the injector-pistol's contents in our lab, and #2408 was thankful for his restored theta-defensin gene.

And we inherited the work of the lifeboat service which had been absorbed into us. Out west of the Hebrides in bad weather that brewed up out of nothing in a few hours, a deepsea trawler crewman developed appendicitis, and had to be taken off in a difficult helicopter rescue. Another trawler in the same storm jammed its propeller on floating rope debris and had to be towed in waves taller than either boat, a difficult job getting the first towing line onboard it, and everybody involved were thankful to see Stornoway port on the isle of Lewis.
Later we had to send a helicopter to a cargo ship, and a crewman of the ship ignorantly made the line fast inside as if the helicoper was a boat. The helicopter had to jettison the line, and when the ship docked we boarded it and arrested the crewman, and our boat's skipper gave him three months in prison for endangering a risky rescue and basic plain idiocy.

M.Y. Stephanie

A radar echo proved on flyover to be a 109-foot luxury motor yacht.
Click here for image.
It was on course to pass Bristol eastbound, but engine trouble forced it to put into land near there, or so its radio man said; the answer to our radio challenge sounded convincing; but we, and local help from Bristol port, went in hard regardless. Its open top was clearly designed for the tropics, and its venture north into British weather, even in summer, made us wary.
Click here for image. Bristol's men come by air
Click here for image. and by sea. Its grab-arm trails backwards for streamlining.
Click here for image. 16 feet above sea level and a distance across, and the yacht's steersman is NOT out of reach of attack from the sea.
Click here for image. First boarder, by an unusual means of boarding.
Click here for image. He must get on his feet while staying wary before the steersman can go for a weapon.
Click here for image. He is safely out. Something is coming.
Click here for image. Help comes.
Click here for image. Not the place to look impressively smart in a business suit.
Click here for image. The steersman sees something else out at sea. The second man is out,
Click here for image. and a third has come. Not many get to ride its "one-way road" in the opposite direction from usual.
Three of the frogmen were on deck and ready to shoot before serious resistance reached us. Their folding fins let them run properly out of water. Their badges said only "Port Security". Two more men in business suits ran up and went for pockets in a suspicious manner and were quickly floored and handcuffed.
Click here for image. The dredger continues to pump armed men into the yacht's bridge area.
Click here for image. The other force lands.
The yacht's crew were not warned earlier because the dredger's grab bumping about had cut a communication wire and the first man delivered had switched on a radio-jammer. They realized that something was wrong and tardily left onboard bar and gambling tables and ran in from below with various guns. By then our helirig men had landed on the foredeck and stowed their helirigs in a side room. The crew saw the helirig men and the frogmen meet - and fight on the same side, and the end of a brief hope that the Sea Patrol were chasing the frogmen and that the yacht's crew were merely bystanders. Shooting started, but our men were sober and better shots. Both sides started to shoot from behind things, but we had teargas and they did not. Our heartbeat detectors and exhaled carbon dioxide detectors found where men were hiding in cupboards and suchlike. By then the short-dive-submersible dredger had delivered all the frogmen and submerged to watch below for jettisoned illegal cargo; it also found and cleaned up a large seabed cache. One of the crew pretended to surrender to get close and drew another weapon; after that we shot another apparent surrenderer, and, seeing this, the rest behaved.

We cleared the upper deck; they had the sense not to jump off the nearby stern platform and try to swim away.
Click here for image. We gained the spiral stair to the lower deck.

The unusual shotgun proved to be a Franchi SPAS-12 made in Italy, with a folding stock and on its end a rotatable hook that hooked over the user's upper-arm to steady aim in one-handed use. It can be switched between semiautomatic and pump-action. We use them now sometimes.
Click here for image. On the darkened lower deck the teargas went in.

The yacht's engine mechanic was not part of the gang and tried to surrender to us there, but one of the gang shot him. Another crew man, toughened and experienced in waterfront fights, resisted with long heavy spanner against Sea Patrol issue pickaxe handle, but lost. With more shooting and riotsquad-type fighting and a door-bursting explosive charge we entered and cleared the engine-and-stores level. Searching them and their luggage found that the men on board were not on a diplomatic mission as had been claimed, and proved our suspicion what the journey was really for. Some of the frogmen, thankful for their diving gear, went astern to the diving/boarding ladder and swam about to wash thrown heroin powder off themselves - again a drug gang man had resorted to that last-ditch weapon of theirs against being caught and arrested. We had multishot hypodermic injectors loaded with buprenorphine (made from thebaine); it neutralizes heroin-high (as naloxone does), and also is a good painkiller, but does not cause opiate-type high. One of the Bristol frogmen and one of our helirig men had a bullet wound each, but they recovered and were allowed back into action.

One of our men took over the yacht's helm and brought it into our base at Bristol; our men and the port security frogmen went back to base in it, more comfortable than their outward transports. On the way we thoroughly searched the yacht, and 300 kilograms of drugs and suspicious chemicals vanished into the submersible dredger's onboard destructor (through its deck hatch) as it came back with us. We bagged and tagged the bodies. We as expected found some sport-type scuba gear for crew use for odd jobs underwater. 43 illegal migrants found cramped in its supplies hold were landed under guard, and later the same day summarily shoved in an airliner whether or not they had passports and sent home, in a day reversing a 3-week journey. We stop many things less desirable than sport diving.

The yacht, after alterations including enclosing the bridge for cold weather and adding better indoor heating, was allotted to a licenced diving marine biology expedition which we ran ourselves, to try to improve our public image.

Our duty continues
After time showed our effectiveness, various foreign nations have turned to us to help them to set up a similar hard efficient unitary organization that does all aspects of estuary and near-to-land patrolling and enforcing and arresting at sea.


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