New Orleans, Louisiana (US), city of music, carnival and of Underwater Intervention.
But New Orleans is of course more than just that.
Strolling around the streets of the Uptown neighbourhoods, where the majestic International Trade Mark stands out as the city's highest skyscraper, it is noticeable that other activities such as industry, high technology and building are growing rapidly. They are a focal point for development within the city which, as we all know, was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005.
With background music by a traditional jazz band playing at the welcome party, we plunge into the pavilions of the Morial Convention Center where the doors are open on one of the most popular events in the world of diving: the 2014 edition of Underwater Intervention.
At first sight, UI2014 might have seemed the same as ever but in reality the event has evolved in a way that was noticeable right from the inauguration onwards.
The first innovation was actually introduced by the organisers, who provided an APP that all participants and guests could download onto their smartphones.
Naturally the opportunity wasn't overlooked and the APP was promptly downloaded and configured for use over the following three days of the trade fair.
My curiosity was sparked too by this mix of tradition and technology and I set out to start my tour of the trade fair the day after its inauguration.
At last year's event I was struck by the growing number of stands exhibiting technology for the exploration of underwater seabeds such as ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles), instrumentation and sensors, sonar and acoustic technology, AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) and UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) technology - new trends that are continuing to expand this year.
The most prominent names didn't let down our expectations, above all in the case of Kirby Morgan Dive System Inc.
Active as ever and ready to amaze, the company presented two new products.
The first, an aluminium helmet already in use for the KM77® and KM37SS® products, was equipped with a new balanced regulator (the 455 Balanced SS Regulator) and renamed with this new configuration under the sales tag of KIRBY MORGAN® 97.
The new helmet already has the CE mark and so it's ready to be sold in the states of the European Union. It was interesting to watch the demonstration in a tank of water set up for the purpose within the trade fair and to see how this newly launched product had already gained the approval of the members of the public present.
Expectations were high also for the second product, which too already has CE marking, that is the new balanced SCUBA regulator which is mounted onto the M-48 MOD 1 and M-48 SUPERMASK full face masks, together with the already familiar second stage Superflow® (2° stage Superflow® plastic adjustable regulator).
Carrying on with my tour amongst technology and tradition I came across the Italian brand Ocean Reef, where we were shown their products featuring original design and a carefully planned image which can also be seen by using the QR codes in the brochure or with an APP which can be downloaded onto all the latest devices including smartphones.
The stand of Subsalve-USA, a company owned by the businessman Richard Fryburg, based on Rhode Island and best known for its highly reliable Lift Bags, was larger than a year ago and had many more products.
Once again, then, the world of Underwater Intervention has tried to amaze and it has succeeded thanks to the people who work in this fascinating world.
I'd like to express my sincere thanks to everyone for the hospitality and the warmth we were received with once again this year: to Connie Morgan of Kirby Morgan Dive System Inc. and all the staff there, to Mike Ward of Dive Lab Inc., to Richard Fryburg of Sub salve-USA, to Giorgio Dini of OceanReef and to the matchless Lorenzo Cervellin who accompanies us each year with his ever interesting and in-depth explanations.
See you all at the 2015 Underwater Intervention!
Giorgio Cavassi, Eur Erg & Product Safety Manager