back to article Suunto settles scary scuba screwup for $50m: 'Faulty' dive computer hardware and software put explorers in peril

As anyone who has gone scuba diving will understand, it is critical that you know how deep you are, how long you have been diving, the air pressure in your tank, and how much air you have left. Without this knowledge, divers risk ascending too quickly, and can get the bends: nitrogen absorbed in body tissue forms bubbles and …

  1. romanempire
    WTF?

    Fuck!!!

    Just fuck!!!! That's proper scary.

    But thats why, when I used to dive, I had alternates for dive time, depth and cylinder pressure. My air-integrated computer was pretty good (for the time) but having backups for each function seemed like simple good sense.

    P.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Fuck!!!

      Yes, getting a second dive computer made by a different company seems like a solution any Reg reader who understands how things work in the real world would insist upon. Just use the readings from the least optimistic one.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Fuck!!!

        I would never rely on my dive computer for actual air reserves left - that's what the gauge hanging off your regulator is for.

        I still have my 2010 Oceanic Geo 2, never missed a beat.

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: Fuck!!!

          This is the gauge that hangs off your regulator. It's not a wrist model, it is an all in one unit. So it's not telling you that you have 2,200 PSI in your tank, it tells you that you have 32 minutes at your current depth.

    2. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: Fuck!!!

      It's "fuck" when humanity gets to the stage that it trusts a consumer product vendor to provide mission-critical information! It'll be just as "fuck" when we trust Apple or Google when they introduce self-drive cars; you just know it will not end well for too many unfortunate people.

      1. rdhood

        Re: Fuck!!!

        "It's "fuck" when humanity gets to the stage that it trusts a consumer product vendor to provide mission-critical information!"

        Um...in that case, we are all "fuck" We depend on consumer product vendors to provide mission critical information all of the time. Look in your CAR. If you are SCUBA diver, you still rely on a WATCH and a PRESSURE GAUGE and DEPTH GUAGE to go on your SCUBA TANK.. These are ALL consumer products that provide mission critical information upon one relies on the way to and during a dive. And this is just a TINY portion of products that are mission critical that we rely on every single day.

        The next time you get in a car or start your oven, try to do it without relying on those "fuck" consumer products that you claim. You are left with a Flintstone's car and a hot rock.

      2. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Fuck!!!

        when they introduce self-drive cars; you just know it will not end well for too many unfortunate people.

        Let's try to keep some objectivity here. Autonomous cars are surely going to have accidents and are going to harm people and stuff. What is at issue isn't whether they sometimes harm people and property but whether they do less harm and damage than cars driven by people. Keep in mind that autonomous vehicles are not just a tool for getting drunks home safely when the pubs close. For the elderly, visually impaired, infirm and seriously ill., the benefits of reasonably safe autonomous vehicles seem very great.

        There are companies -- Waymo(Google) for example -- that seem to be extremely conservative in their approach and which so far have a really good safety record. I don't know whether they can achieve acceptable levels of safety in all sorts of driving conditions. I doubt they know. Probably no one knows. But it's probably worth giving them a chance.

        There are other companies -- Uber and Tesla come to mind -- that seem to me to have demonstrated sufficient disregard for reality and common sense that yanking their driving licenses permanently seems to me to be advisable. If/when they need vehicle autonomy, they can buy the technology from someone whose first priority is safety rather than profits.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: when we trust Apple or Google when they introduce self-drive cars

        you can always use a back-up, right when they fail, crash and burn, right? :(

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I would look for a different provider

    Is there anyone else making diving computers ? And what's wrong with the manual option as backup ?

    If your pressure gauge is a lot more empty than your diving 'puter says, it might pay to start going up, just in case . . .

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: I would look for a different provider

      There are other diving computer manufacturers out there, but I would bet most people went with Suunto, before this, their rep was very good AFAIK, most people I know use them.

      Yeah I am not sure about the gauge either, I have always dived with a old dial type gauge and thought that was pretty standard on a set up, with or without computer.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: I would look for a different provider

        I'm currently looking for a new dive computer and I now know that thanks to this article that Suunto will be strucken from my list.

        Diving is not a dangerous sport when things work correctly, however we need 99.9% reliance on the material and this is simply outrageous.

  3. thesykes

    Looks at list of affected models. Looks at dive computer. Bugger.

  4. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Criminal liability

    >>>Personal injuries or wrongful deaths are not covered by this settlement<<<

    Are there any potential murder investigations ongoing?

    Should Sunnto execs be made to sit 60 feet down with a different diving computer every day? This can't be cruel or unusual as they were making money from people wanting to do exactly this.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Criminal liability

      "

      Are there any potential murder investigations ongoing?

      "

      Unless you are suggesting that the malfunctions were deliberately engineered in order to cause GBH or death, then there is no question that it could possibly be classed as a murder.

      "Corporate manslaughter" is the most that the company could be charged with.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Criminal liability

        And when they deliberately continue pumping out stock that they know to be faulty?

        Car manufacturers are forced to do a recall for similar situations where a life dependant system is known or found to be faulty, why do Suunto believe that they are in a different position?

  5. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

    I'm completely ignorant on this subject. I know some guys in the office have watches that go nearly 4000m deep, isn't this just a digital version of the same thing?

    1. Paul Johnson 1

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      No, these are not just watches. They have pressure sensors and they track your depth over time to compute how much air you have used (greater depth means more air usage) and nitrogen absorption in order to give you a decompression schedule. The algorithms are complicated and the results obviously safety-critical.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

        I wonder how they did it BEFORE Suunto. Oh dear, NO DIVING COMPUTER?!

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

          No diving computer? I used this + a dive watch, depth gauge, tank pressure gauge. And a log book so someone could figure out how I screwed up if I got bent.

          http://divemar.com/Divemar/docs/dciem.html

          So you had to know your maximum depth before you got wet, and had to be conservative on your bottom time (or crazy).

        2. EveryTime Silver badge

          Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

          Before dive computers, there were dive tables. Dive tables are simplified and eliminate most parameters. Because of this they are very, very conservative. And even then they won't help you predict when you need to start your ascent.

          For shallow water recreational dives, it's no big deal. You are down there to see the pretty fish. You have no motivation to get close to the limit. For more challenging dives there is a huge difference in capability and time spent at the destination.

          1. Griffo

            Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

            Or even better, learn ratio deco. 10 seconds of mental calcs will tell you if your dive computer is close to the mark or miles off.

            Also, anyone who relies on the AI reading for tank pressure and doesn't check their SPG is asking for trouble.

            It's a worrying trend in diving. Too many people "ride the computer" and have no idea how to actually calculate their remaining NDL or know what to do if they do enter deco. I blame PADI

    2. Moosh

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      How on earth could you possibly consider a diving computer giving you real time (supposedly) accurate measures of depth, pressure, oxygen left, etc., is in any way comparable in function to an overpriced show watch with nautical hangovers for ship navigation that no one uses?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      Not sure why the down votes - I was thinking the same thing. I have heard of diver's watches, but don't know what was so special about them.

    4. Triggerfish

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      Those bezels are a hangover from old school I think. Before dive comps and so on, when you worked out your dive plan and profile by hand and lookup tables, wrote it on a slate and that was basically your stopwatch.

      Rotating the bezel meant you could align it with where the hand was currently

      A Dive computer basically does all of the above, plus more, (depending on the model).

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

        I quit diving before the computers came around - we always did the math in our heads, planning the time pre-dive and then adjusting the time depending on the depths that we reached. And I always allowed for a margin of error and a safety margin - that's the way we were taught back then. The golden rule was - and probably should still be - TRUST NOTHING.

        1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

          Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

          Bingo! Our PADI instructor was ADAMANT that even IF you have a computer, you use your slate with the decompression times/levels and a geographic dive plan with bottom stops to check your location with your dive buddies. I did notice he wore those fancy but fully waterproof analog watches on ALL his dives along with his computer and THAT was in the early 1990's!

          Another instructor would have one of those plastic see-through inserts on the left-forearm of his dry-suit so he could ALWAYS SEE his dive plan and stop/check times which he had laser printed on some plastic film. You just slide the film-printed plan into the insert and even if he lost his slate, he still had a backup dive plan.

          I noticed as a 220 foot+ deep diver he had TWO analog watches!

          In the cold winter waters of British Columbia, Canada you DEFINITELY NEED two or three backups for everything! Our local waters ARE DANGEROUS as heck! Here, an unprepared diver is a dead diver even at 60 feet! Add in the extra technical difficulties of Nitrox, Trimix or Heliox and multi-level decompression stations, having MULTIPLE BACKUPS is and SHOULD be automatic!

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

        "A Dive computer basically does all of the above, plus more, (depending on the model)."

        Indeed. It appears that one of its functions is to attempt to assassinate the diver.

        Allegedly.

    5. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      Not sure why you got the downvotes Ken - a timing device and a dive plan written on a slate is a good backup strategy (see my other post below).

      There are diving watches with nice big luminous hands and dots that will suffice but people tend to prefer something electronic - I have a buddy device that does a bit more than just timing and it's slipped into a pocket.

      Mind you, if I'm on my rebreather, it has a Shearwater computer on my left wrist and I have my OSTC on my right wrist. The OSTC is independent of the CCR/Shearwater so acts as a completely independent backup.

      Which means between my dive buddy and I, we have 4 "full" computers and two HUDs

    6. Cosmic Parsnip

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      The down-votes for Ken's query are unduly harsh. He did admit to not knowing anything about dive computers.

      The fact is dive watches are just that, watches. They tell the time and can go underwater but do little else.

      A dive computer is a much more sophisticated item that uses software algorithms to work out and inform the diver the speed and time to spend on their ascent in order to control the release of nitrogen from the diver's tissues back into the bloodstream to prevent the onset of the 'bends'. They can also monitor the amount of gas left in your tank. If any of these things were reported incorrectly to the diver then, quite simply, death may result.

      For a dive computer manufacturer to know of faults and yet to keep selling the items is unforgivable and should be illegal. Shame on Suunto!

    7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Isn't that what the watches with the numbered bezels are for?

      Upvoted because it is a good question.

  6. diver_dave

    Watches

    @ken16

    Watches are very rarely as waterproof as they say. There is a massive amount of fiddle room when it comes to exactly HOW water tight they are.

    Computers give you essentially:

    Depth

    Dive time elapsed

    Time until you need to make decompression stops.

    If in decompression. What stops you need to make to offgas.

    In my case my computer also shows, via a little wireless transmitter, the remaining contents in my tank.

    Essentially.... It is telling you how to not die.

    Now, I actually had a problem with a different brand.

    With these computers they tend to decide your battery life is not allowed to go below 55%. After that the unit shuts down.

    On a dive a few years ago I had the unit suddenly start displaying very odd content readings. 180bar suddenly dropped to 130 then 45 then back to 150 and the unit locked up. Dive aborted after 5 minutes.

    I now have a seperate contents gauge as well.

    However, you still need time and depth as well.

    Especially in a cave in Mexico.

    Safe diving all..

    Dave

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Watches

      I've always used manual gauges as back-up to my (Suunto) dive computer, not only there will never be any batteries issues with those as being able to double check everything gives you a lot of peace of mind

      And double checking with your diving partner when in doubt also helps...

    2. Pedigree-Pete
      Unhappy

      Diving with dodgy kit..

      @diver_dave. Diving, relatively safe if properly trained and diving within your abilities.

      Diving with dodgy kit (and believing it) quite dangerous.

      Cave diving with dodgy kit, probably fatal.

      I'm sure you know what you're doing Dave, I was only trained for leisure diving and never anywhere you can't see the surface. PP

      >>Icon for Suunto.

  7. Paul Johnson 1
    Alert

    Its not just dive computers

    I once heard a very scary talk by a manufacturer of professional dive kit. He mentioned this kind of thing, but dive computers were actually one of the less scary parts.

    The really scary stuff was rebreathers. These are bits of kit that take the air you breath out, scrub the CO2, add the oxygen back in, and let you breath it again. Advantages are much smaller tanks of compressed oxygen rather than air (8o% nitrogen), and no stream of noisy bubbles to scare the fish. The disadvantage is that if the oxygen replenishment fails you die before you realise there is anything amiss. One horror story among many: a device that reset itself to "off" when it got knocked.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Its not just dive computers

      "...The really scary stuff was rebreathers. These are bits of kit that take the air you breath out, scrub the CO2, add the oxygen back in, and let you breath it again. Advantages are much smaller tanks of compressed oxygen rather than air (8o% nitrogen), and no stream of noisy bubbles to scare the fish. The disadvantage is that if the oxygen replenishment fails you die before you realise there is anything amiss. One horror story among many: a device that reset itself to "off" when it got knocked..."

      I wondered how long it'd take to get to the scare stories of rebreathers.

      I dive a Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR) manufactured by a company called JJ.

      They can be more dangerous but if you use them properly, get properly trained, and use your brain then they are actually, in many ways, safer than open-circuit breathing for lots of reasons, but here's a few:

      I can stay down MUCH longer on a CCR - in some cases, hours. That means if I have a problem, I am not panicking that I have to sort it before my much more limited time on open circuit is over.

      I always get the optimum gas mix for the depth I am at (dynamically), so my decompression times are always optimised and I feel fewer ill effects than on open circuit.

      They have multiple failsafes and backups (two independent computers - one of which is a coloured HUD right in front of my eye), 3 oxygen cells and in my case an open circuit bailout - at the flick of a lever I am off the rebreather.

      Yes, they can kill you interesting and quite sudden ways if you're not careful, but they are actually safer than open circuit in many ways (for one thing, the sheer cost alone puts off part-time or holiday divers). The level you have to get to in training and certification before even considering them is a very high bar.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its not just dive computers

        >I wondered how long it'd take to get to the scare stories of rebreathers.

        My old BSAC DO died while using a rebreather, this is back in the day of question marks over the Buddy Inspiration, an O2 hit can knock you out faster that you can say Ja.....

        Yes there are advantages to them but they do come with potentially increased risks and divers using them also put themselves in riskier situations but in the diving community there has always been that certain element who do appear to have a death wish.

        I'm an old fart now and my cold water deep diving days collecting brass or Januarys with a suit leak in Dorothea are behind me, just nice 10-20m warm reef diving on air is plenty much fun.

        Watch the fish feed, don't become fish food.

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Its not just dive computers

          "...Yes there are advantages to them but they do come with potentially increased risks and divers using them also put themselves in riskier situations but in the diving community there has always been that certain element who do appear to have a death wish..."

          Ignoring the second-hand market, you cannot buy a rebreather unless you are trained and qualified on that model and can prove it. In many cases you can't even buy spare parts.

          I see divers do silly things all the time - from diving twinsets without being trained on them and having no idea how to do a shutdown, or being trained to do decompression diving, to rebreather divers diving with no open circuit bailout of any kind, to divers diving beyond their training - into overhead environments (it's only a wreck right...it's not like a cave, right?), below the MOD of the gas they're on, diving with out-of-test kit (although good luck getting a fill on out-of-test cylinders) etc etc etc

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Its not just dive computers

            >Ignoring the second-hand market, you cannot buy a rebreather

            No matter how many precautions you take the deeper you go the higher the risk, as Scotty's Law Of Complexity puts it:

            "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain"

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Its not just dive computers

            'although good luck getting a fill on out-of-test cylinders'

            Search fleabay, Alibaba etc for dive compressors, consider also the fact that other organisations have suitable compressors required to refill their SCBA tanks..so unfortunately it isn't as hard as you think.

            Not a diver myself, but know a number of them from the local clubs, and from them I've been hearing that there's allegedly a lot of 'sketchy' shellfish related diving going on, with training, legality and certification not being high on the priorities of the characters getting rich out of it (needless to say, they're not the ones doing the diving with the OOT gear...).

        2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

          Re: Its not just dive computers

          One thing I've notice nowadays, is these super-fancy, All-carbon composite pony bottles which can give you up to a full 6000 PSI or even MORE! You get a few extra minutes if your rebreather conks out to get you to your dive buddy or to your previous safety tank drop-off station when you're diving in confined spaces like caves or in big wrecks.

          My pony bottles aren't 6000+ psi, but with one on each of my lower legs, I feel safer knowing I have enough air to get to my dive buddy.

        3. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Its not just dive computers

          "...My old BSAC DO died while using a rebreather, this is back in the day of question marks over the Buddy Inspiration, an O2 hit can knock you out faster that you can say Ja...."

          An O2 seizure in and of itself isn't fatal. It's by virtue of being underwater - you drown when your regulator slips out of your mouth.

          On my RB, I have a gag strap. I can do this because of my open circuit bailout being integrated into the loop. It means if I did get an O2 hit and associated seizure, the loop won't drop out of my mouth and I shouldn't drown.

          It's something you can do on a rebreather because you can't buddy-breath on them. For that, my buddy and I have our open circuit bailouts configured with a regulator we can pass to another diver if required.

          We don't do it on open circuit because we follow the practice of handing off our primary to another diver. PADI expect you to offer your octopus but this has a number of possible problems - first a panicking diver will grab the first regulator they see which tends to be the one in your gob.

          Secondly, you know without fail that the regulator in your mouth is functioning and has a breathable gas.

          Our backup is on a rubber holder round our necks so it's a quick pull and use - and yes, we practice doing it by touch alone.

  8. TonyJ Silver badge

    Sad and scary and they should have acted when informed, but also, I have some issues with this.

    Firstly, no serious diver would use a Suunto (and certainly no technical diver). There are plenty of alternatives out there - OTSC and Shearwater to name just two. Don't get me wrong - if you only ever dive recreationally and in crystal clear, warm waters, they are ok(ish) but they're usually bought as a first dive computer because the novice diver knows no better and their local dive shop where they happened to train and qualify, stock them.

    The pods that send pressure information to a dive computer are notoriously flaky. Anyone without a traditional SPG is just asking for trouble.

    However...a diver should also understand their SAC (Surface Air Consumption) - mine is roughly 16l per minute, so I know on a relaxed dive @ 30m I'll be using 4 x that (64l/m). I also know that in my twin 12l cylinders filled to 200 bar, I'll have 4,800l of gas...so I know how long that will last me under normal circumstances and I will plan a dive profile that takes that run time into account inlcluding any required decompression + enough to buddy breath if required. I'll have the dive profiles (different scenarios for ending the dive early/overrunning etc) with timings written on a slate so all I need is a time source and I can still safely manage the dive.

    Too many divers - especially holiday divers are all too willing to just jump in the water and not plan what they are doing, or at least plan the dive profile. Too many rely entirely on a dive computer to tell them when to end a dive. Too many divers go in the water with no thought to what happens if there's an issue or without any kind of backup gas source (and as much as I hate 3l pony cylinders, they're just about better than nothing).

    Dive computers aren't a replacement for a brain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Firstly, no serious diver would use a Suunto (and certainly no technical diver). There are plenty of alternatives out there - OTSC and Shearwater to name just two. Don't get me wrong - if you only ever dive recreationally and in crystal clear, warm waters, they are ok(ish) but they're usually bought as a first dive computer because the novice diver knows no better and their local dive shop where they happened to train and qualify, stock them."

      Yawn...

      Maybe, just maybe, diving is considered a recreational hobby for some people? Therefore to go diving you don't need to be a *serious diver* [see 'no true Scotsman']. Suunto do pretty well out of their products so plenty of people buy them. I still have a stinger that works fine. So I'm not sure why you 'have an issue with this'. For sure any dive kit sure be recalled straight away when found to have faults in multiple units, but what are you saying - Suunto should have been shut down regardless of this incident as everyone should only be a serious diver and therefore if you're not buying high end expensive makes then you shouldn't be allowed in the water in the first place?

      As for manual calculations - the whole of your dive course will be spent on learning manual calculations, creating dive plans and working off manual air cylinder readings. However a dive computer makes life easier especially when ascending, caught in currents or when visibility is poor.

      I could say that using most consumer North Face or Karrimor gear on a mountain is just for amateurs and no serious mountaineer would use it. But I wouldn't expect a trekker on Snowdon to be spending £450 on a waterproof jacket, and a North Face jacket is much better than a Superdry hoodie and in 95% of circumstances will be fine. Similar with technology - everyone out for a walk on a hill or mountain should have a map, compass and know how to use them including knowing, at least, how to do reverse triangulation. But in reality GPS mapping tools and spare batteries are so good and reliable now that they might well be safer for the average recreational walker. Over everything else, a lightweight emergency shelter is probably a better safety device.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        "...Yawn...

        Maybe, just maybe, diving is considered a recreational hobby for some people? Therefore to go diving you don't need to be a *serious diver* [see 'no true Scotsman']. Suunto do pretty well out of their products so plenty of people buy them. I still have a stinger that works fine. So I'm not sure why you 'have an issue with this'. For sure any dive kit sure be recalled straight away when found to have faults in multiple units, but what are you saying - Suunto should have been shut down regardless of this incident as everyone should only be a serious diver and therefore if you're not buying high end expensive makes then you shouldn't be allowed in the water in the first place?

        As for manual calculations - the whole of your dive course will be spent on learning manual calculations, creating dive plans and working off manual air cylinder readings. However a dive computer makes life easier especially when ascending, caught in currents or when visibility is poor...."

        Way to take things out of context.

        I have an issue with people blaming equipment first and themselves second. Dive incidents are almost always down to diver error - and even most equipment failure can be prevented by a few simple visual checks of kit before and after dives.

        Also, what I am saying is that relying on wireless kit underwater (which all Suunto integrated computers use) without having an SPG and depth gauge is stupid.

        I am also saying that there is never any excuse to run out of gas unless you pop a low pressure hose.

        Anyone can count. Any diver should know that at a depth they use X times more gas than at the surface - and if you're in most of the world using the metric system it's dead easy - twice as much @10m, 3x as much at 20m and so on... therefore if they're still down there thinking "hey my gas use is zero and my cylinders are full" (or some part therein) then they are quite simply stupid.

        If you know your gas for a particular dive will last, say 60 minutes and your air integrated dive computer or SPG (because you kept that, right rather than rely soley on that little transmitter pod?) half an hour in is not saying you're at 50% or thereabouts then even without adding up you should know something is awry.

        But as a diver you know all of that already.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I am also saying that there is never any excuse to run out of gas unless you pop a low pressure hose

          Don't you mean a high pressure hose, your tank will empty fairly quickly in that scenario compared to a low pressure hose ?

          Also, what I am saying is that relying on wireless kit underwater (which all Suunto integrated computers use) without having an SPG and depth gauge is stupid.

          Couldn't agree more, always have redundancy. I carry a spare mask, such a simple thing but a really unpleasant thing to happen if your mask gets knocked off and you lose it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            No. The high pressure hose has only a tiny hole leading into it from the first stage regulator, because all it needs to do is drive a gauge. The low pressure hoses have bigger holes because they need to deliver a high volume of gas. So a high pressure leak is an inconvenience but a low pressure leak is a serious problem.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "The low pressure hoses have bigger holes because they need to deliver a high volume of gas."

              During my training I was 10m down when my o-ring blew. I couldn't hear anything other than the roar of the air blasting past me, likewise couldn't see a damn thing either. Air was pretty much a trickle, not breathable.

              That was the point where I really appreciated all the classroom work and pool exercises because I managed to not panic and realised my buddies all must be seeing.hearing what was going on so I just sat there waiting for someone to buddy share. Felt like a lifetime but could only have been about 10 seconds.

              And yes, I'm the same person who posted about losing their mask on a night dive above :)

          2. TonyJ Silver badge

            "...Don't you mean a high pressure hose, your tank will empty fairly quickly in that scenario compared to a low pressure hose ?...

            No, I don't.

            As counter-intuitive as that is - a high pressure port is tiny - literally a pinprick in size, so a blown HP hose takes a long time to empty cylinders. On many dives, long enough to surface.

            A low pressure port is large - several orders of magnitude larger. A low pressure blowout will drain near-full 12l twins in around 35 seconds.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "such a simple thing but a really unpleasant thing to happen if your mask gets knocked off and you lose it."

            Happened to me once on a night dive, was sat with my back to the swell sitting on the coral walk-out, putting on my fins (had my mask on but pulled up onto my forehead).

            Wave comes over me and knocks it off. Turned out to be a bit awkward as we were in restricted water and a night patrol came along. They had a big searchlight on the back of the jeep and there I was in a bright orange horseshoe :)

            I had to deflate and let my buddy guide me down to 10m whilst we watched the searchlight playing on the surface of the water, whilst the other two carried on looking for the mask.

            Damn near shat myself, but it was also exciting, especially when you are only 17 years old on one of your qualifying dives ;)

            1. divegerry

              Mask on forehead? Entry level courses teach students never to put their masks on their forehead. Your experience is a good example why that is in the syllabus.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "Entry level courses teach students never to put their masks on their forehead"

                Really?

                No-one taught me that in 1985 with BSAC nor in 2010 when I re-trained for Nitrox with PADI.

                1. TonyJ Silver badge

                  It should be taught from the earliest levels and reinforced on higher level courses. A wave, an errant fin or even your own hose or hand etc can all lead to a mask on the head being lost.

                  I have a bungee in my left thigh pocket of my drysuit.

                  Things like spools and a spare mask are clipped onto the bungee. If I lose a mask, I can open the pocket, pull out the whole lot and find the mask easily to unclip from the bungee - all one handed.

                2. Manolo

                  Then you didn't pay attention. It's definitely in the PADI curriculum.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    "Then you didn't pay attention. It's definitely in the PADI curriculum"

                    Entirely possible, I might not have registered it as it is definitely a 'lesson learned' :) It certainly wasn't in my bsac training in '85 though. Mind you, they didn't exactly cover 'no diving in military restricted waters' either!!

        2. diver_dave

          Gas calculations

          Oddly enough.

          I do that in my head constantly throughout the dive. Although I admit I cannot dive in Imperial.

          I know my tidal rate is 18l per minute. So 36l at 20m.

          I then double it to allow for increased workload.

          My normal buddy (SWIMBO- has a much lower rate than me and normally dives a smaller tank.

          Our predive planning aleays includes my gas failing amd us bailing out onto her tank. Again allowing for deco and increased consumption.

          Always plan plan plan...

          Dave

          1. TonyJ Silver badge

            Re: Gas calculations

            "...I know my tidal rate is 18l per minute. So 36l at 20m..."

            Just noticed this. You might want to check your maths there. 20m = 3bar, not 2.

            Mind you, I'm making assumption myself that when you say tidal rate, that you mean surface air consumption?

            If also suggest you rethink you're buddy having smaller cylinders.. what happens if you need to share gas? You should always cater for the heavier breather

        3. notowenwilson

          "Also, what I am saying is that relying on wireless kit underwater (which all Suunto integrated computers use) without having an SPG and depth gauge is stupid."

          Except for the one that is in the article that is an air integrated computer that is not wireless and happens to be particularly common in these parts.

        4. Manolo

          "Also, what I am saying is that relying on wireless kit underwater (which all Suunto integrated computers use)"

          Definitely not true. Maybe the newer models. Mine is an almost ten year old Cobra 2 which reads tank pressure through a hose connected to my first stage.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        I could say that (etc)

        Well said, AC, well said.

        For any piece of equipment in any field of endeavour, I can absolutely guarantee that if someone recommends it, someone else will immediately pipe up with "no serious etc etc etc" and end with a recommendation for a different piece of kit, usually one priced much higher than the one under discussion.

        I once said something nice about a watch with a compass, barometer and altimeter function, and was immediately excoriated by someone who told me I was taking my life in my hands and - coincidentally - would be much better off using a Suunto unit.

        The following facts had not permeated his brain:

        a) The Suunto unit was four times the already high cost of the watch I was being nice about.

        2) I said that the compass was good enough for casual hill-walking and figuring out if you were turned around in a confusing American grid-based city but would be best not used to navigate around the world in a bathtub

        #) I also said that the barometer was good for telling if you needed a raincoat but needed an appreciation of how such devices work

        *) I also said the altimeter was OK for anything where the speed of change was limited by walking pace and therefore unsuitable for skydiving or landing that 747 when the pilot is dead and the instruments smashed by a collision with a comet

        Musicians are the worst at this. A request for an affordable "starter" guitar recommendation on a forum will garner replies opining that nothing but a top of the line (insert guitar manufacturer choice) will suffice. If you want a giggle, find a concertina forum and look at the "suggestions" for beginners that talk about buying at auction and having an expert reconstruction job done on Victorian-era antiques.

        All this talk of dive computers killing people. As I say to those who insist that they cannot turn off their work cellphone: Makes you wonder how we did it before that device was invented, dunnit?

    2. diver_dave

      Dive computers aren't a replacement for a brain.

      Exactly.

      With OC cave diving I carry with manifolded twins. 2 computers and an independent SPG that gets regularly checked.

      Dive plan and turn pressures are also on a arm slate so I don't fumble or them in an emergency. Additionally, I have a nice Dive Rite slate that has 2 layers so I also do a sketch map of the cave.

      Interestingly. You missed the fact that over half the rebreather course is spent in emergency drills and driving the unit manually.

      Still sticking with OC I think...

      Dave

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @diver_dave

        There are no stupid cave divers. Any error is a singularity when cave diving.

        1. diver_dave

          True

          The whole 10 day cave syllabus is designed around accident analysis. This boils down to three main causes (omitting stupidity)

          1- incorrect gas planning. Law of thirds. One third in. One third out and one third reserve.

          2- failing to mark lines/visual rather than phsically linked jumps.

          3- failure of light source.

          Again, like flying it is another swiss cheese.

          Unfortunately I was right in the middle of one in 2016 in Tulum. Having to do a body recovery after someone who should have known much better screwed up. Very unpleasant.

          Dave

          1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

            Re: True

            I've learned with number three, that red and green glowsticks are a Godsend! I always carry a few strapped to my pony bottles and some strapped to my BCD --- bend and shake and you've got light.

            You usually get them in Green, but bright white and Xenon Blue are available now!

            If you're in a wreck or a cave you can also buy 2cm diameter weighted clear plastic balls which contain a single blinking white LED and some watch-style batteries which can last up to 12 hours even at depths past 230 feet (70m). They usually have a loop with some string and a largish clip which you can put on some coral, kelp or hull to keep in place along with it's weight.

            On the way back out you pick them back up to ensure your safe passage the way you came in!

    3. M_W

      "Firstly, no serious diver would use a Suunto (and certainly no technical diver). There are plenty of alternatives out there - OTSC and Shearwater to name just two."

      Next you'll be telling us you're a DIR diver. ;-) (Sorry, GUE. JJ will have my guts for garters...!)

      As someone who has been diving for over 30 years, and dived with many different computers, whilst I may well agree with other points you raise, I would argue the Suunto HelO2 is actually a really good technical dive computer - I use it as a backup and I do have a Shearwater as my primary - but the HelO2 was my primary for many years and if you take care of the unit, make sure it's clean and well looked after then it has few issues.

      Having owned a VR3 that died on it's arse at 50m and ended up having to rely on a Suunto D6 as a backup, an Aladin Air X that just said 'SOS' in the middle of a dive (the other reason why I never use Air Integrated and use redundant different brand computers), and witnessed an OSTC unit have a complete meltdown underwater (It stuck at depth and failed to ascend - we were at 6m but the OSTC thought we were at 30m), I would suggest that Suunto are pretty much the same as the other manufacturers when it comes to failure rates.

      So whilst Dive Computers aren't a replacement for a brain, you can't also write that Suunto make the worst ones (they don't - remember the Apeks quantum?)

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        @M.W. - Helo2 is far from a bad dive computer other than using proprietary closed algorithms which make it impossible to plan on most widely available software and have the same runtimes.

        But the big one is the screen. Ok if you're in clear waters. Crap if you're in somewhere with low visibility.

    4. notowenwilson

      "Firstly, no serious diver would use a Suunto" how serious do you need to be? I know plenty of instructors who dive with Suunto computers with no backup with hundreds or thousands of dives. Are they serious enough?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And any money left over after all these claims go through will be put toward training classes provided by Professional Association of Diving Instructors"

    Really do they need extra free cash to a commercial organisation? I was always taught that PADI stood for "put another dollar in" due to their high fees and requirements to buy brand new text books for every course and not write on a separate notebook and then resell your text book.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      I was always taught that PADI stood for "put another dollar in" due to their high fees and requirements to buy brand new text books for every course and not write on a separate notebook and then resell your text book.

      Also, Pay Again, Dive In-between

      And let's not leave BSAC out - Buoyancy? Sink And Crawl

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You mean the Beards, Sandals and Ale Club? Who Break Substantial Amounts of Coral?

      2. jaduncan

        > Pay Again, Dive In-between

        Hmm, that doesn't quite work. Pay Always, Dive Infrequently?

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          I was alway told it was Pay And Dive Instantly.

          And BSAC'ers could be identified by their Beards and Pony bottles.

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    old skool

    When I learned to dive, dive computers were crude and expensive, so i did everything the manual way - dive plan in advance and no fancy kit (depth gauge, watch and check air supply status) & memorized "emergency" ascent best practice (if emergency not critical enough to let you do the stops, e.g. supply fail from one tank but using 2 tanks)

    I used them later but only as an emergency backup in case of nitrogen narcosis (your concentration fails if affected by that so having a device warn you is a potential life saver in worst case scenario where dive buddy also impaired).

    I'm sure if I had learned to dive later, when the tech was better & cheaper, I would have been a keen dive computer user.

    Full disclosure I did BSAC (not PADI), no longer dive as life threatening chest infection irreversibly hammered my lung function some years ago to the point where diving was not worth it (could have gone the rebreather route to get a vaguely decent dive time with dismal lungs but cost & extra training & certification was a deal breaker as by then I dived infrequently, made sure I just did enough to keep my certifications "live" as had moved a long way from sea by then)

  11. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

    Suunto. Replacing luck.

    ... with bad luck.

  12. Oddlegs

    I find it odd that you're only entitled to a repair if you bought your watch in the US. Having admitted their devices have a potentially deadly safety flaw it's criminal that they're waiting until they're sued in every country before they do something about it.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      I was wondering that myself. It seems like the flaw was with the depth sensor, I wonder if it was global in nature or a part for a regional model?

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There not based on Bühlmann decompression algorithm

    Suunto is a closed system with there own algorithm or derivative from Bühlmann

    It goes in safety modus when you don't follow there safety stops ...

    So when you make a big big boo-boo as a scuba diver ... you are really f$`$`$

    because Suunto basically say you are on your own from that point, instead of helping you and recalculate your assent to bring you as safe as possible back to the surface.

    I'm happy with my Divesoft but wouldn't say no for an Heinrichs Weikamp

    (which has open source code I think)

  15. F111F
    Megaphone

    Serious Divers...

    Plan their dives and then dive their plan, always go with a buddy, don't exceed the tables, and abort the dive when things start to go wonky. Computers are nice backups, and that's it. They can preserve the history of your dive to download later. Anyone who relies on their dive computer to tell them it's time to come up is too dangerous a diver for me. Algorithms are notoriously different between different manufacturers, and when the diver can pick how aggressive they want the algorithm to work, you're just cheating death. [Note: If you're a commercial/tech diver, ignore the above, I'm talking to all us recreational divers, you lot get my respect for the dangerous working conditions and computers are absolutely necessary].

    Side note: If you ever get the chance, diving in the Red Sea is glorious...not Sharm-el-Sheikh, but down further South along Saud Arabia...lots of reefs that are rarely (or never) visited by divers. Wish the Kingdom would open up tourism for divers, was lucky I had the chance while I was living there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serious Divers...

      " but down further South along Saud Arabia"

      See my comment above about losing my mask on a night dive ;)

      Talk about spoilt though - nowhere else has compared since.

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Serious Divers...

      Re' Algorithms are notoriously different between different manufacturers,

      Not so much anymore. Shearwater and OSTC use the same algorithms and will and give the same results. You can also run something like v-planner that uses the same algorithms and get your dive profile to write out on slates.

      Suunto however do use their own closed-source algorithm which they don't publish details on and you can't use things like v-planner to match them so you're then in that very scenario you talk about, relying on a single point of failure and maybe if you remembered, their own software with no checks and balances.

      In terms of setting the gradient factors this is where getting trained by someone like Mark Powell is a benefit. You actually get taught what they mean, how to set them and how/when/why you might want to change them.

      Also for any technical diver, I'd say his book Deco for Divers should be a pre-requisite before you even start training.

      Ultimately it's a fact that all decompression tables/computers/algorithms are best guesses to an extent. You can dive a profile that should be "safe" and still suffer DCI.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Serious Divers...

        @TonyJ

        Diving is not my cup of tea, but regarding Suunto they made a decision to go with MS years ago, which annoyed me because I would have advised them to use linux embedded, of course. How things are today I don't know but this might explain the closed source.

  16. JLV Silver badge
    Happy

    did i misread or 55.7$M award > $5M legal fees?

    ie the claimants got more benefits than the lawyers???

    nah, must be too much holiday grog yesterday. surely it’s $5/claimant or the like.

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    So had Suunto acted decisively and fixed the problem(s) with their purdy computerdevices promptly, they would not be in this predicament.

    Any bets on how long Suunto will exists before shutting down and sinking down into an underwater cave?

  18. Flying GS

    Users outside the US will have to die before Suunto does the right thing

    I contacted Suunto in the UK, they will not inspect a recently purchased Suunto dive computer for the fault for free. Someone will have to die before they face their responsibilities for poor buying and testing. Great branding exercise.

  19. SteveYoules

    Where do I sign up for a replacement? I have a Vyper Air that started being unreliable so I replaced it with a Shearwater perdix AI, which is stunningly good.

    I always have had a backup com / SPG anyway, anyone who relies on one device is taking a risk!

    Looking forward to getting my compensation / replacement computer now, thanks to these guys!

  20. SteveYoules

    So... from the looks of it's "American Lives Matter" - everyone else can drown ... the list of places to approach is USA only. If anyone finds out whether Suunto or AqualLung intend to do the right thing and compensate everyone who patronised them, please let us know. I for one, will not buy another product from either of them from now on if this is how they regard the lives of their customers.

  21. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    not to be unsympelagic, but ...

    This whole saga seems ripe for a musical rendition on stage or film...

    Thick as a Brick/Aqualung (Jethro Tull)

    OK Computer/No Surprises/The Bends (Radiohead)

    The Lucky One (Paddy "PADI" Casey)

    Broken Household Appliance National Forest (Grandaddy, "The Sophtware Slump")

    All Apologies (Nirvana) / The Apologist (R.E.M, "Up")

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: not to be unsympelagic, but ...

      Probably choose "The Tourist" from "OK Computer" and stick in "Feed The Tree" (Belly) after Grandaddy.

  22. Lars Silver badge

    Does anybody know

    Is it a software or hardware problem, or is my question just stupid.

    Hardware and software in the title but..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a settlement valued at $50m

    lawers should be delighted about the oucome, no?

  24. Slacker@work

    IT's been an issue for a while....

    I was diving with a buddy of mine a few years back and he was using an "air integrated" dive comp - the type that has a transponder that you fix to a spare port on the tank regulator - as we were exiting the water another pair were going in, one of whom had an identical model computer to my mate.

    As we passed each other both computers beeped as the transponders switch between the divers... so the guy coming out suddenly thought he had a full tank, and the guy going in appeared to have not much above 50bar left (i.e emergency reserves). This was reported to Suunto and the reply back was its a 40000 to 1 chance so would do nothing about it.

  25. greenwood-IT
    FAIL

    Why run out of air?

    Why would someone run out of air? Surely as part of your dive plan, you will have considered how much air you need, and arranged to take enough?

    If I was planning a no-stop 30m dive, say 18mins, I know a 12l cylinder will be enough - if I'm 18mins into that dive and my gauge still shows a full cylinder, I wouldn't just stay there for another 18mins!!!! This person died due to blindly trusting the artificial brain rather that their own. What happened to the buddy in this situation? If this person ran out of air much quicker than the buddy, then perhaps they should not have been diving to 30m or have had a larger cylinder.

    Anyway, seeing as they sell the same models globally, what are Suunto doing for the UK divers?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Why run out of air?

      I used to be able to last a 'normal' dive on a 12l cylinder. Then all of a sudden I started guzzling air. and even on a 15l tank couldn't last long enough to last a normal 'holiday' dive and often had to resurface on my own, I didnt realise that the paraflu I'd had had eaten away at my lungs to the stage they were barely working. I had kids around then so had to stop diving and it wasn't until another complaint led to some x-rays that revealed the damage the bug had done.

      I was diving assuming I'd use air at around the rate I always had and was surprised to find sometimes after only 15min of a 40m dive I'd be down to 75bar and assumed I'd been hyperventilating or something as normal life didnt seem impinged. Fortunately I'd not gone deep enough to need decompression which could have led to a few problems

  26. DeepDiver72

    Been a diver for 25 years. I have always used Suunto dive computers. I have never had any issues. I would never dive without an alternative air source. I also prefer to dive with normal contents guage. That aside. Basic training springs to mind. DIVE TIME FOR GIVEN DIVE. if your computer goes down which could be even battery failure. You should always have a dive watch on. Accent should be carried out not beating your smallest bubbles exhaled. Stay at 6 meters as long as possible then surface. I still swear by Suunto. Great dive computers

  27. IHateWearingATie
    Pint

    AHA!

    Its been 10 years since my last dive (bloody kids stopped all that fun) over the years I had a Suunto Stinger, Vyper and Vytec but I knew there was a reason I never trusted those wireless cylinder pressure guages !

    Towards the end of my time diving it was still all done manually (custom cut tables, electronic depth gauge and timer - one main and one spare) as there weren't cheap and reliable computers that could do multiple gases for decompression. I seem to remember there were a few but cost £500 or so and were generally used with rebreathers.

  28. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    AND just for your sake I would say one of the BEST dive computers out there is the:

    Petrel-2 from Shearwater:

    base version:

    https://www.shearwater.com/products/petrel-2/

    Petrel 2 with Fischer connection system:

    https://www.shearwater.com/products/petrel-2-fischer/

    The Petrel 2 with or without the Fischer connection system for rebreather integration. You're looking at about $1075 CAD (650 Euros) for the base Petrel-2 model and going past $1500 CAD (1200 Euros) for all the added options. They are a Richmond, British Columbia, Canada company (30 minute away from my home!) so they ABSOLUTELY KNOW ALL ABOUT cold-water and deep-water diving for recreational and technical/commercial/rebreather applications!

    AND if you REALLY want to have some diving fun, go up into the British Columbia Coast Mountain Ranges and do high altitude Glacier Lake diving to see the very interesting rock and ice formations...Some of these lakes are as much as 350 feet deep! (110 m), SO DO REMEMBER to take your altitude into account on your dive plan decompression stops. The waters are UTTERLY CRYSTAL CLEAR and you can dive right into ice caves and find some old Woolly Mammoth or Sabre-took tiger bones still preserved after 20,000 years or find these weird glowing rocks all about you making it look like a Christmas lights display!

    Try these deep glacier and mountain fed lakes in British Columbia.

    https://www.lakelubbers.com/british-columbia-deepest-lakes-in-british-columbia-L67-C3/

    The underwater rock formations are utterly spectacular and the water is ESPECIALLY CRYSTAL CLEAR in Winter! Get a good Dry Suit though!

    AND for normal coastal saltwater diving try these:

    Top 5 cold water diving locations near Campbell River BC:

    https://gocampbellriver.com/top-5-dive-sites-around-campbell-river/

    You do NEED to be prepared for these waters! They are CLEAR but VERY COLD -- Dry Suits are pretty much a MUST and In my opinion Fall/Winter from October to Marh to is BEST time of the year to go diving!

  29. Johan Bastiaansen

    Can not be true

    No no no, this can not be true.

    The Fins are a very ethical people.

    So no.

  30. Magellan

    Happened to me

    I had a Suunto Vyper Air which had a series of issues not communicating with the air pressure sensor. It spent weeks in the shop, and I think it may have been sent back to Suunto. Anyway, the air pressure sensor was replaced, and I never had a problem since. I also became completely paranoid about air remaining.

    However, the Vyper Air was the second computer I bought (I originally bought a Suunto Zoop). But I kept the Zoop and always dove with two computers. I also had a regular pressure gauge on my regulator. So I would dive with two pressure gauges (one regular, one on the Suunto Air), three depth gauges (two computers and a regular depth gauge), and two compasses (one digital compass in the Suunto Air and one analog compass).

    At a minimum, one should always have a manual pressure gauge and a manual depth gauge, and always cross check an air-integrated dive computer with the manual air gauge every 5 minutes..

    However, I haven't dived in several years.

  31. EU time zones

    The more you dive the more you realise that it's essential to have two of everything: First Stage, Second Stage, time, depth measurement, increasingly dive computer, often a second bottle. Your life - and perhaps your buddy's - depends on it.

    And that's just for normal Sport SCUBA - the Technical stuff is an order of magnitude more reliant on technology.

  32. BarryMN

    Updates

    Is there somewhere we have to call or sign up on line to get the computers fixed/changed?

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