Eurasian Tunnel Project: the first saturation dives during compressed-air work in Turkey

Undersea Hyperb Med. Sep-Oct 2018;45:489-494.


The Eurasian Tunnel is a 5.64-km crossroad tunnel that connects Europe and Asia. Located under the seabed for the first time, 3.34 km of the tunnel that crosses the Bosphorus was built by advanced tunneling techniques. An exclusively designed tunnel boring machine (TBM), which has an operating pressure of 11 bars and a diameter of 13.7 meters was used for boring the seabed tunnel. The deepest point was 106 meters below sea level. One bounce diving period and seven saturation diving periods were needed for the repair and maintenance of the TBM during the project. Total time spent under pressure was 5,763 hours. A saturation decompression chamber for four divers was used for the saturation interventions, and divers breathed trimix at storage and excursion depths. The longest saturation run was the second, with storage at 10 bars and excursions to 10.4 bars. Twenty-three professional divers who were all experienced in compressed-air work were assigned to work on the project. Four dive physicians provided medical support, which included screening of divers before and during the hyperbaric interventions as well as on-site supervision. There were no diving-related accidents. A minor hand trauma, an external otitis and occasional insomnia were non-diving-related health issues that occurred during saturation and bounce diving. To our knowledge, the Eurasian Tunnel was the first project to perform TBM repair operations at such depths under the seabed and the first saturation diving in Turkey. In this report, we aimed to share our experiences of hyperbaric medical consulting in support of this type of tunneling project.

Keywords: diving medicine; medicals – diving; occupational diving; saturation diving; tunneling.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asia
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Compressed Air*
  • Decompression / methods*
  • Diving / adverse effects
  • Diving / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Diving / physiology*
  • Europe
  • Facility Design and Construction / instrumentation*
  • Facility Design and Construction / methods*
  • Helium
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Maintenance / methods
  • Maintenance / organization & administration
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrogen
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Oxygen
  • Partial Pressure
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration
  • Physical Fitness
  • Pressure
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation Facilities*
  • Turkey


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Helium
  • trimix
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen