UK: Former Student Participates in The Underwater Centre’s Open Day

A leading subsea trials and training centre has welcomed back a former student who is now a leading industry expert, more than thirty years after he qualified on the saturation closed bell mixed gas course.

Derek Beddows, Upstream Diving Technical Authority for BP returned to The Underwater Centre in Fort William during its recent Open Day which was an opportunity for industry executives to participate in the development of the Centre. The Open Day also gave them the chance to discuss emerging issues in the industry for which the Centre could provide solutions.

It also provided an opportunity for organisations to view first-hand the Centre’s unique facilities and see both instructors and students at work.

Derek Beddows said: “As a former student I was able to appreciate on the day the many significant changes and improvements to the Centre, including a greater range of diver training facilities with multiple depth options, ROV piloting and support, equipment workshops and an extensive familiarisation tank where initial diver assessments can be made prior to students embarking upon their diving careers.

“In addition to being recognised by the UK HSE as the world’s leading training centre for commercial divers, it was very reassuring to see that a whole range of diver tools training and skills development is also a big part of the diving syllabus. This historically has been an issue requiring focus, since ensuring a diver can dive safely is only a part of the process; once he has reached his worksite, the diver has to be able to execute a range of different tasks efficiently.

“I was also very impressed with the quality and enthusiasm of the tutoring and supervising.

“The day was also valuable to oil and gas companies in terms of fully understand the benefits to them of working closely with training providers to provide fit for industry personnel, in a complex and changing industry.”

The Open Day at The Underwater Centre in Fort William attracted participation from Conoco Phillips, Shell, Oceaneering as well as BP and many others.

The day included a cruise to the Centre’s deep dive site, a tour of the saturation diving barge and pier, including ROV cabins and dive stations, as well as the indoor dive complex, ROV and NDT classrooms.

Steve Ham, General Manager at The Underwater Centre said: “Our open days are a fantastic opportunity for companies within the industry to fully appreciate the substantial investment the Centre has undergone in recent years and see first-hand what we now offer in terms of facilities.

“We are continually developing new relationships and building on existing ones with organisations in the industry. We see their involvement as being crucial to our development and maintaining our high standards of training and testing.”

The Underwater Centre, Fort William, which also has a school in Tasmania, is located on the shore of a seawater loch, and is well sheltered by the surrounding mountains. The Centre’s unique location allows it to provide year-round training and testing in an open-water environment, whilst still being centrally located in the largest town in the Scottish Highlands.

With access to depths of over 100 metres, it is the ideal location to perform realistic and industry specific saturation and air diver and ROV pilot technician training, as well as providing a convenient location for subsea equipment trials.

In addition, it is the only subsea training centre to provide commercial diver and ROV training in one purpose-built underwater training site, giving students experience in an environment similar to what can be found offshore.

The Underwater Centre’s extensive pier complex includes 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 help to provide industry with a well-equipped workforce.

Subsea World News Staff , May 29, 2012;  Image: The Underwater Centre