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Interview with Claudio Gino Ferreri

Claudio Gino Ferreri - now and during military days

Clockwise from top left: Gino Ferreri entering a hyperbaric chamber, now, and dressed in diving gear during his days in the forces; rebreather diver preparing for training.

Thanks to our friends at Scubaportal.it for this interview with Claudio Gino Ferreri, author of Scuba Diving Operational Risk Management.

How did you start your diving career?

In the 1960s, as a teenager, I did quite a bit of apnoea spearfishing on the south coast of the state of Victoria, Australia.  I also dived scuba using the double hose regulator (La Spirotechnique Royal Mistral) and in Mount Gambier, Australia dove in caves as deep as 76 metres on air. Back then in Australia diving was not as well organised as it is today. Perception of safety and acceptance of risk was very loose.  Diving equipment was very basic, and no one wore lifejackets or buoyancy compensators.

How did you start with SAS and how has your military experience influenced your approach to diving?

I joined the Army at 19, completed recruit training, infantry school and then was posted to an infantry battalion. From there I applied for the SAS selection course which then lasted six weeks. I successfully completed the course, which was physically and mentally very hard. I was then posted to the SAS Regiment in Perth, Western Australia. The SAS at the time had two operational Sabre Squadrons. Each Squadron had four Troops of about twenty operators. The Troops were Air Operations, Water Operations, Mountain Operations and Vehicle Operations. I was posted to the Water Operations Troop. One element of water operations was diving. It is used by SAS as a method of incursion behind enemy lines in order to conduct reconnaissance, surveillance, or raids.

SAS diving courses are very challenging physically and mentally. You need to have a very positive, can-do attitude.  You must be very organised and patient in order to achieve the military objective. Over the time I was in SAS, I saw one or two deaths per year which roughly equates to about a one in two hundred chance of dying. Deaths varied from diving accidents, parachuting accidents, climbing accidents and vehicle accidents. With these statistics in mind you grow up very quickly. You soon realise the importance of situational analysis and planning in order to complete the mission and stay alive. Statistically more SAS have died in training than in combat. The principle being train hard and fight easy.

Which were the main experiences and activities you had in SAS?

The main area of operation for SAS during my time was South East Asia and the Pacific region. SAS spent much time fostering good relations with neighbouring countries by providing training and mentoring in special operations.  In addition we trained with US Special Forces and US Navy SEALs and US Airforce SOS and CCT units. Also we trained with the British SBS, British 22 SAS and the New Zealand SAS. In the 1980s the most challenging experience was in developing a capability to operate on the surface and underwater in BASS Strait which is part of the Southern Ocean. The objective to reclaim an oil rig that may be taken by terrorists. Bass Strait is a treacherous cold sea with waves up to 10 metres tall and inhabited by great white sharks and large aggressive seals.

Which are the most important skills during professional technical diving?

While personal physical diving skills are essential, good planning skills and good situational awareness are the most critical. If you do not have good planning skills and not aware of your current situation, you are gambling with your life.

How and why did you decide to author this book?

I studied risk management at university as part of my BSc degree and have worked as a government security manager which involves assessing risks and threats. I consequently have researched literature by way of books and the internet in relation to diving risk management. To my surprise I discovered that the information available to the diver is incomplete and, in many cases, confusing.

Subsequently, I decided to author a book that covers the diving risk management process from A to Z and which aligns with the ISO 31000 risk management standard.  Incidentally, the ISO 31000 risk management process also aligns with the SAS operational process which is used as the template.

How can your book be of help to the recreational diver, technical diver, and professional diver?

The process outlined in the book enables all categories divers and diving applications to achieve the following objectives.

  • Logically identify problems that pose a risk to the outcome and safety of the dive.
  • Accurately determine the level of risk the diver is exposed to.
  • Confidently develop risk mitigation measures that accurately target the real cause and effect of the risk.
  • Develop the risk awareness mindset during the execution of dives.
  • Develop the template for monitoring and reviewing emerging problems and subsequent risks.

Have you ever had, in your past any experiences with the Italian Navy?

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to work with the Italian Navy however I have read several books about the legendary Decima Flottiglia MAS of WW2 and have read many internet articles and viewed many YouTube videos about COMSUBIN and the Incursori Teseo Tesei. As Italian born and raised, I am very proud of their achievements.


Scuba Diving Operational Risk Management by Claudio Gino Ferreri

OUT NOW:

Scuba Diving Operational Risk Management:
An SAS approach to principles, techniques and application
by Claudio Gino Ferreri