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What offshore work opportunities are there in commercial diving or as an ROV pilot now?

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offshore work

As one of The Underwater Centre’s Student Advisors, a question I get asked a lot is what offshore work opportunities are there once students have completed their training as a commercial diver or an ROV pilot tech?

The drop in oil prices is obviously delaying investment plans at the moment, particularly in the North Sea; however there are opportunities in other fields outwith the oil and gas industry.

Offshore wind and the renewables sector

The renewables sector is expanding rapidly; 2015 saw the busiest year yet and there are many new offshore windfarm developments taking place right now, for example the Hornsea One Project from DONG Energy, with many others planned. A further 14 wind farms are to be commissioned off the coast of the UK before 2020. The government is aiming for a target of 25% of the UK’s energy to be provided by offshore wind by 2030. Take a look at the articles and offshore work opportunities available in Offshore Wind Energy Today.

Decommissioning and marine salvage

As decommissioning of older oil rigs and platforms in the North Sea continues, the marine salvage industry is going from strength to strength. Read more about current projects on the Decom North Sea website, including Norway’s announcement of the value of their decommissioning market, here.

A recent report from Douglas Westwood also predicts a decommissioning boom; with around 146 platforms being removed from the UKCS during 2019-2026, due to the age of the platforms; read the full article here.

Add to your CV and experience with more skills and tools training

If you are determined and focused to work as a commercial diver or ROV pilot technician you will discover there are more opportunities available to you than the media would lead you to believe.

Ensure the training you complete gives you valuable certificates and provides you with hands on experience in skills such as subsea tools; welding and burning, rigging and slinging, or bolt tensioning, for example.  Similarly, as an ROV pilot, certificates such as High Voltage or Working at Height, as well as more specific training, such as Titan 4 Manipulator Training, will all help.

You will find that these additional skills are what employers are looking for.

Current student feedback

Speaking to some of our recent students on our diving and ROV courses gives an indication of the demand from these different industries too. Traditionally our student base was predominantly those attracted to certifications to qualify to seek offshore opportunities in oil and gas; this is changing as we see many discovering work in renewables, marine salvage or harbour developments.

These students are coming to The Underwater Centre to make the most of the new opportunities being presented to them:

  • A group of closed bell students all working for a European company. The company are expanding their resources to ensure their staff have the skillset to be capable of decommissioning work in the North Sea. They are seeing demand and contracts for work in this area increasing.
  • Some students on our commercial air diving courses are involved in harbour developments in Scottish waters, including at Lerwick Port and the Bantry Harbor Development Project.
  • In the renewables sector, we had an interesting student working for a Dutch company which has grown exponentially to meet market demands. The student in question was training to further his skillset by attending our Fibre Optics training module so that he would be competent and confident to work as an ROV Superintendent.

So you can see that commercial divers and ROV pilot technicians don’t need to rely solely on the oil and gas industry.

Lorna MacPherson is one of The Underwater Centre’s Student Advisors. She and her colleagues are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about training just now. Get in touch with Lorna, Ingrid or Maggie if you have any questions about the opportunities available once you’ve completed your training; call +44 1397 703786 or email fortwilliam@theunderwatercentre.com.

Whether you're looking to start an exciting new career in diving, train as an ROV pilot technician, or your company wants to carry out vital subsea equipment testing or trials, our commitment to your needs is what makes The Underwater Centre, Fort William special.

Dive Training Blogs

Sidemount: Not just for Technical Divers

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By Heather McCloskey

In the 1960’s, dry cave explorers in the UK became the first “sidemount divers” when they began clipping scuba cylinders to their caving harnesses as a means to cross sumps, or water-filled cave passages. Over the past 50 years, countless divers and equipment manufacturers have developed and refined sidemount diving and configurations through trial and error.

Today we see many technical divers in sidemount configuration and it remains especially popular with cave divers. There are clearly countless benefits of sidemount for technical diving, but did you know many of them cross over to recreational diving as well? Yep, that’s right: sidemount is not just for technical divers. In fact, I believe that everyone could benefit greatly from a technical sidemount course, even if they do not have an interest in technical diving.

Here’s why everyone should try sidemount diving:

STRENGTHEN DIVING FUNDAMENTALS & KNOWLEDGE

I think it is important to constantly learn new things. If you’re looking for a course with the potential to truly challenge you, reframe the way you think about diving, and improve your fundamental skills tenfold, look no further than a technical sidemount course.

In addition to teaching you how to safely dive in a new configuration, a technical sidemount course is like boot camp for your diving fundamentals: buoyancy, trim, and propulsion.

Even if you have good buoyancy control going into the course, a good instructor will push you to fine tune it even further. This will force you to extend your awareness and control of where you are in the water at all times, even when being distracted by problems.

You’ll work on propulsion techniques and likely focus more on how you’re kicking than you ever have before. Your instructor will help you perfect your frog kicks and helicopter turns, show you how to backfin effectively, and teach you special techniques for silty areas. After your sidemount course, you’ll know how to move through the water more gracefully and efficiently than you thought possible.

Furthermore, you’ll think about trim more than ever before and you’ll start to see how seemingly small things like the weight of your regulators and the buoyancy profile of your fins have huge impacts on a diver’s natural trim and you’ll learn how to effectively compensate for these things.

COMFORT & STREAMLINING

In sidemount, cylinders are mounted at your sides under your arms rather than on your back, giving you a much more streamlined profile. Even with two cylinders, propelling yourself through the water and maintaining proper trim feels much easier in sidemount than in single tank backmount.

If you have back or shoulder problems, you’ll likely find sidemount more comfortable in general because it allows more flexibility in those areas and the bulk of the weight is not on your spine.

During a proper sidemount course, you and your instructor will spend a lot of time adjusting your sidemount system to fit and function just right. You’ll also spend time trying to get properly trimmed and adjusting trim weight placement as needed. This part of the process may feel frustrating to some, but as soon as your system, weights, and trim are all right where they need to be you will realize it was well worth the trouble. When done properly, sidemount is an incredibly comfortable configuration to dive in.

REDUNDANCY & LESS RELIANCE ON BUDDY

One of the biggest benefits of sidemount is it offers true redundancy in case of a gas or regulator failure. When diving with two tanks in sidemount configuration you have two completely independent cylinders, first stages, and second stages. If one of these points fails, you have a backup.

In a proper sidemount course with a qualified instructor you will learn how to independently solve various equipment problems that could come up while diving. This training and configuration makes you more safe, more self-sufficient and less reliant on a buddy. Self-sufficiency is especially beneficial if you travel without a regular dive buddy and find yourself buddied up with strangers often. I’ll address more benefits of self-sufficiency, specifically solo-diver training, in a future post.

MORE GAS = LONGER DIVES

If you’re an air hog, or simply enjoy making long dives, sidemount configuration is a great way to carry more gas with you while staying streamlined. While diving twinset would be another way to have more gas, you may not be able to find twinset tanks at every single diving destination you visit. Another benefit of sidemount is that you do not need to hunt down special tanks to dive in sidemount configuration.

SIDEMOUNT TRAINING PREPARES YOU FOR THE FUTURE

If you don’t have interest in tech diving right now, that’s perfectly fine. However, training and experience diving in sidemount configuration will help you gain confidence and leave you well-prepared for any technical training that you may want to do in the future. And it may be just the thing that convinces you to try technical diving after all. 😉


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

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Dive Training Blogs

Skills Workshop: Hovering Neutrally Buoyant

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By Mark Lewis

I’ve recently been coaching some divers on ways to improve their neutral buoyancy hover when in the water. A common thing I’ve seen is a diver maintaining their buoyancy by finning. There are many reasons why this may happen, including weighting, kit setup, etc.

After eliminating all of the other more common reasons, I’ve found it sometimes comes down to the students not being comfortable in their dry suits or simply not understanding how it works.

Sometimes dry suit training doesn’t incorporate everything that it should, as it often gets combined with other training courses and appears to predominantly centre on resolving inversions rather than focusing on air migration.

What is air migration?

Simply put, it’s utilizing the air in your dry suit to balance (trim) you in the water, allowing you to maintain a neutrally buoyant hover in the water column.

To teach air migration, I use a skill where I take a student into shallow waters (maybe six metres) and get them comfortable on a training platform with handholds on it, so that if they do have a problem, they can hold onto the platform initially whilst they get used to the skill. Then, we remove our fins and focus on our hovering.

Fins provide propulsion, so without them on, a diver’s senses are heightened, and they notice immediately when things don’t feel right, allowing them to compensate with the air in their suit rather than with their fins.

The reason I choose to do this with no fins is that it helps them focus on the air migration in the suit, without compensating by finning, thus allowing the diver to focus on their breathing and their dry suit as their means of buoyancy. In order to maintain the neutrality of their position once they have the right balance of air in their suit, the diver can continually adjust by controlling their breathing.

How long should this drill last?

I’ve found that in an hour’s session, maybe the first twenty minutes are tough, with a lot of corrections and adjustments… and then in most cases, it clicks, and the diver can maintain their position without much effort. Once they’ve attained this skill of hovering, other tasks and skills become more achievable.

Bring in the fins

Then, when they put their fins back on, it simplifies everything, and suddenly the diver has a new perspective on neutral buoyancy hovering. This ultimately makes them a safer diver and improves their competency.

I will add that this is not a skill required within any course that I teach, but something I do occasionally in a skills workshop to help divers progress. In my experience, it works, but if you’re going to try it, ensure that you have an understanding buddy who is happy to keep an eye out for you.


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

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Competitions

Red Sea Northern Wrecks & Reefs plus Tiran

Custom built itinerary scheduled to include Abu Nuhas wrecks, the SS Thistlegorm, the fabulous reefs at Ras Mohamed including Shark Reef, then over to Tiran to dive Gordon, Jackson, Thomas and Woodhouse reefs.

You’ll visit any number of other wrecks including the beautiful Carnatic and the wrecks of the Giannis D, the Chrisoula K and the Marcus, all at Abu Nuhas.  And you can’t miss the Rosalie Moeller and the Dunraven!

 

But this trip isn’t just about wrecks – far from it! Ras Mohammed, the protected marine reserve of the Red Sea, delivers schooling fish, spectacular corals, and we drop-in numerous times on the best sites before heading over to Tiran to dive the immense reefs of Gordon, Jackson and Woodhouse.

 

What are you going to see? The most stunning corals, abundant marine life, and exceptional wrecks. Turtles, Napoleon wrasse, morays, dolphins, maybe a manta, and perhaps even whale sharks. Hammerheads off the back of Jackson Reef are a possibility, and don’t forget the little critters either! This trip delivers, time and time again.

 

From £1599 per person based on double occupancy.  Full board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £695pp.  Stay in a deluxe chalet on a soft all-inclusive basis and enjoy 10 guided shore dives and unlimited, unguided house reef diving.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

 

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

 

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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