My Favorite Courses & Certifications: Value Beyond Training
I earned quite a few certifications at TUC, but these are the ones that really stood out to me:
HSE SCUBA & HSE Surface Supplied Diving: I believe these were some of the most important certificates I gained. (HSE stands for Health & Safety Executive – the governing body that provides global backing for these certifications). The HSE Surface Supplied Top-Up (Wet-bell) course is mainly for offshore use.
Underwater Burning Course: I’d also say it was worth while getting the underwater burning with a Broco torch and wet-welding certificates to show you are skilled underwater.
KMDSI Helmet & Bandmask Operators: Completing this test definitely contractors/employers you are aware and can maintain your most vital dive gear. My previous 11-year “leisure” diving experience and knowledge came in quite handy – since I had experience using SCUBA and Hookah systems, I was already aware that non-return valves were a must on dive helmets/bandmasks.
SCUBA taught me the fundamentals and physiology on the body when it comes to diving, as well as decompression tables.
It was a bit of a hassle for me as I’d been brought up using meters and now I was using fsw (feet sea water), but I soon got used to it. Also of course even just setting up equipment was a doddle for me.
Instructors that Equip You with Diving Knowledge (and Have Fun Doing it)
I wouldn’t say I had A favorite instructor, they were all pretty boss in their own way.
However, I could select a few.
Cameron, who I had for the first week of Surface Supplied diving (SSD) and Top-Up, was an absolute legend.
He came across as quite miserable at first, but eventually we cracked a smile out him. His dry humor and phrases as “OUT IN THE INDUSTRY” or “YER GONNY DIE” in his monotone booming voice was funny; and besides that, he was just a great instructor!
I’d also like to give a shout-out to Kenny who gave us more freedom and genuinely made us feel like “part-of-the-team.” Even if you did something wrong, he’d just dunt you on the head.
I’d also like to say Charlie, the supervisor, needs a three-month paid holiday for the amount of stress we must have put him through. It was always reassuring to hear Charlie’s voice through the communications when things weren’t going as planned.
And finally, a mention to Kenan, the supervisor.
He was a little hard to understand but he always put a smile on your face – even if you were a tender.
In the battering rain.
With no waterproofs on.
Going in Deep: The Underwater Centre’s Decompression Facilities & Equipment Housing
The facilities at the Underwater Centre are world class, from the equipment store to the hyperbaric decompression chambers!
It was great being able to set up the chambers in the morning and test the dive hats.
Setting up the panel was a bit daunting because if you pickled that, diving would be delayed.
The compressor rooms were easy to operate with clear instructions, and I believe all that is important for the real-world of commercial diving, as I feel very confident with how to use, store, maintain and operate equipment us “sporties” never get the chance to even look at.
The only thing I’d say that could be improved, would be if the classes were smaller – I felt it was very rushed and didn’t get much bottom time haha, but apart from that, the course was out of this world!
True Camraderie: Developing Teamwork Takes Time & Conflicts
CAD:421, my team, was a great group of lads, except for one or two who thought it was a holiday. I put a lot of trust into my team and got a lot of trust given to me.
Of course we had our odd little arguments and temper tantrums when people were being silly, but the matters were resolved at the dinner table.
However, I’m not going to lie, there was one individual I do not know how or why he passed the course.
He fell asleep operating the wet-bell winch, tried filling HP cylinders with 2 LP compressors. And during the wet-bell rescues, he got my umbilical looking like a set of earphone leads that had been crumpled and tied in every knot imaginable.
I was not a happy chappy when I was no-longer the “casualty” and first glanced at my umbilical.
I’d love to get the recording of that dive – such colourful language! But the group as a whole helped each other with homework and supported those that were struggling.
Standout Dive Training Projects
Seabed Survey: Measuring & Mapping
First project I’d like to talk about would be the seabed survey on HSE SCUBA; we had to come up with a dive plan of how we could ‘map’ the seabed as well as a base-plate survey.
My teams first plan was a shambles, but we were pointed in the right direction.
We did a grid-iron search pattern and jotted down on a slate what was found and lying on the seabed. We took measurements of the base-plate so we could work out volumes .
We then had to write a report, including a risk assessment, the briefing and our results, which in the end up was actually quite good and professional looking – thanks to my Italian buddy Pierre-Luigi DiDeo and his trusty laptop.
Burning & Welding
The second project was on the surface.
We had to use oxy-acetylene gas cutting torches to burn holes into a large steel plate to attach a job-line to. Then in water, we used the cutting torch to burn a square hole (it was all marked up and measured on the surface).
This tool had a fair amount of danger associated with it, but it was the easiest to use.
The next day, with the square section we cut out, we welded it back on, as a “patch repair” I guess to simulate repairing a hull or leg structure. During this task, the class below us was using the air-lift and the visibility was pretty pants. But even then, it was really enjoyable.
Just the fact that I was using a torch hotter than the sun to melt through 8mm thick steel like it was butter – underwater – wearing a Kirby Morgan – I felt at home!
After Graduation: Where I’m at Now (and Where I Want to Be)
Well, I’ve been firing my CV to every dive contractor in Scotland, I believe. I’d like to keep my work in Scottish waters and travel.
But to be completely honest, I’d be happy with any kind of work.
Obviously I’d love to be on surface supplied burning and welding all day and night, but even to get on the fishfarms to shovel dead fish and repair nets, I’d be a happy diver! Even renewables now seems a rewarding and fun career within diving.
I just wish a company would look past my age and to see what I have done even before I attended Fort Bill; the fact I’m quite young may be a rewarding thing for a big company if they took me on long-term, they could mold and perfect me into the diver they need me to be!
I know there are much more experienced commercial divers out there, but I have so much potential, enthusiasm and dedication I have to give to the maritime industry. I just want the chance to prove it and myself be a solution to any sub-sea issue!
Adam Townsend recently graduated from The Underwater Centre as a certified commercial diver. He has many years of experience in SCUBA diving as well with his father. To learn more about his background in SCUBA diving, check out his previous post on Water Welders..