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In-depth recovery

Sermsak Posayajinda, with more than two decades of scuba diving experience and 13 years as an instructor under his belt, is devoted to the underwater world. And the owner of the Living Sea Diving School has found a way to turn his passion into a tool for relieving the hardship of flood-affected companies while generating extra revenue at the same time.

Most recently, his eight-strong team has been helping the Japanese firm TDA Rubber Corporation to locate and recover 1,800 submerged steel moulds at its inundated factory in Ayutthaya’s Rojana Industrial Park.

Rojana is among seven industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces that have been socked by the country’ worst flooding in seven decades.

TDA produces rubber automotive parts with these moulds, which weigh anywhere from 30-800 kilogrammes.

Mr Sermsak, who is called Krue Thor by his diving students, has experience with sea rescues and raising sunken ships.

He said one of the challenges of this new task is poor underwater visibility, as floodwater at the factory site is mixed with lubricants that TDA has applied to the moulds to prevent rust.

“In this kind of water, our range of visibility is only about one foot. That requires skill and makes the job not so easy for us,” said the 39-year-old dive veteran.

To raise heavy machinery, divers put lift bags underneath them. Resembling balloons, the lift bags are filled with air from the divers’ own air tanks, said Mr Sermsak.

“A tank normally holds a two or three hours’ supply of oxygen, but since we also need the air to inflate the lift bags, it runs out from time to time before we can finish,” he said.

“The difficulty is that the high water level in Ayutthaya prevents us from refilling the empty tanks on site. Instead, we have to drive them somewhere else to be refilled.”

Mr Sermsak charges anywhere from 400,000 to one million baht per job, depending on the duration of the work and level of difficulty.

“This kind of operation is in high demand, and there’s only a very limited number of skilled divers who can perform it,” he said.

So far, 220 factories have inquired about the service, about 80% of them Japanese- or Taiwanese-owned.

Many flood-affected companies are willing to pay the high prices, as raising the submerged machinery is critical for continued business survival.

“One Japanese executive with TDA joined us on a site inspection. He broke into tears on the boat after seeing what his factory looked like,” Mr Sermsak recalled.

“He cried and bowed to us many times in thanks for giving him hope. His company has a commitment to Japanese clients for delivery of lots early in November. Without these moulds, they would be unable to meet the deadline and thus potentially face a heavy loss.”

Mr Sermsak and his crew also serve flood-hit companies in Pathum Thani’s Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate.

Diving to raise submerged machinery has a different feel from his normal routine of directing a group of amateur divers.

“When leading others in diving, my main concern is their safety,” he said.

“But raising machinery, all I have to look after is my own safety. Lifting objects weighing several hundred kilogrammes underwater is dangerous. If you don’t tie the knots on the lifting bags tight enough, the heavy machinery could fall and seriously injure your feet or legs.”

Mr Sermsak is a member of the Florida-based National Association of Underwater Instructors Worldwide.

The Living Sea organises scuba diving trips in Thailand and abroad and sells imported diving equipment such as Gull brand from Japan and XS Scuba from California.

Source: Bangkok Post

ThaiVest Editorial Team

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