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International contract wins boost Scottish dive centre’s reputation

DCN Diving at The Underwater CentreA Scottish dive centre has secured a number of international contracts, highlighting its reputation as a leader in the training of saturation divers for the subsea industry.

The Underwater Centre in Fort William, and its sister centre in Tasmania, have this year alone trained divers from Angola, Holland and Russia as its reputation as the world’s leading commercial diving and ROV pilot technician training centre goes from strength to strength.

Earlier this year, nine divers from Dutch company – DCN Diving – completed the HSE Closed Bell Course at FortWilliam, specifically for onshore, in addition to offshore, work.   The divers have recently completed their first 30-day saturation period, carrying out refurbishment of a water entrance gallery of a hydro power dam in a mountain lake in Northern Spain. After a 45-day break, phase 2 of this project will continue with another 30-day saturation period.

Jan Weick of DCN said that while saturation diving has been used previously for onshore work, it is normally very difficult to transport a saturation system for use onshore.  DCN’s saturation systems are, however, designed to be flexible and can be mobilised anywhere, allowing them to complete the project in Spain, as well as other contracts for the oil and gas market in the Black Sea and in the Caspian Sea.

The Netherlands-based company, which has offices in Bergen op Zoom, and also in Germany and the UAE, plans to send more divers to the Centre next year.

Just last month, the Centre was awarded AUD $1million to train 17 divers from MRTS, one of Russia’s largest construction contractors in the fuel and energy industry.  They spent a total of nine weeks at The Underwater Centre’s Beauty Point facility in Tasmania, where they undertook a variety of courses, all of which were taught in Russian, including the ADAS Part 4 Closed Bell Course.

Angolan saturation diversMeanwhile, Antonio Quetes and Antonio Njiva, who work for Angolan oil and gas service provider Operatec LDA, completed the three-week HSE Closed Bell Course in FortWilliam.  They were the first from their country to receive such training, with the company due to send a further 8-10 divers for saturation training.

As Operatec expands the scale and scope of its diving service in Angola it aims to offer its customers saturation diving support. The increasing breadth of maintenance and repair activities required to maintain Angola’s subsea infrastructure is making it more cost effective to introduce saturation diving to the company’s service offering.

Steve Ham, General Manager at The Underwater Centre, said 2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for both the Fort William and Tasmania centres.

“As demand from industry for our services increases, our reputation at home and abroad continues to grow, which is absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“Due to our facilities, location and personnel, we are pleased to have been able to accommodate and teach divers, in some cases in their own language, from these other countries. Not only do they leave with the qualifications and experience they require to move on in their respective careers, but they also continue to provide the subsea industry with the well-trained and competent workforce that it needs.

“We expect there is going to be a significant surge in demand for commercial air and mixed gas divers and keeping up with that demand could prove to be a real challenge for industry with the current and projected growth in the oil and gas and renewable sector.  Many more companies, both at home and abroad, are trying to up-skill their air divers to increase their capabilities and fulfil major contracts.

“As such, our courses do fill up very quickly.  However, the advantage of having two locations is that we can accommodate the training needs of corporate clients within their specific timescales, with tailored courses.”

The HSE Closed Bell and ADAS Part 4 Closed Bell Courses teach experienced divers the procedures and competencies required to dive using a saturation system.

The Underwater Centre also delivers a number of other subsea training courses, such as Remotely Operated Vehicle pilot technician training, as well as the internationally-recognised HSE air and mixed gas commercial diving courses, which are all designed to equip students with the skills they will need to succeed in their careers.

The Underwater Centre is a purpose built training facility which incorporates an extensive pier complex including four dive stations, classrooms, workshops and decompression chambers.

In addition to this, there are three fully equipped barges set up to support a variety of diving disciplines including closed bell, wet bell and surface supplied diving. With accommodation and additional classrooms based at the landward end of the pier, The Underwater Centre is set up to provide its students with the skills and experience to succeed in their new careers, and continue providing the subsea industry with the workforce that it needs.

Anyone interested in more information about The Underwater Centre should contact 01397 703 786 or


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