The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
Students confident training at Norwegian Commercial Diving School will get their careers off to a good start
With its commercial diving courses fully booked until well into 2016, it is no surprise to hear students talking enthusiastically about their time at Norway’s principal diving school. Located among the forests and rocky inlets of the Oslo Fjord, the Norwegian Commercial Diving School (NYD) operates with the simple objective of “producing the world’s best-trained divers” who will go on to make rewarding and satisfying careers in whatever sector of the underwater services industry they finally enter.
Although that may be the school’s long-term aim, its immediate objective is to turn its students into safe, skillful and competent divers who can be trusted to do a good job for their employers. If they complete the Commercial Diving course successfully they will leave with a clutch of certificates that include Petroleumstilsynet (Ptil) Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA): Class 1 - Surface Orientated Diver. This diving certificate is internationally recognised for surface supplied diving offshore to 50 metres by all of the relevant organisations and national authorities, including IMCA, HSE and NDC.
The Scandinavian countries are generally acknowledged as having proactive approach to safety in all aspects of industry and society and this means that products from Norway are generally built to be safer. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong before it is improved, the Norwegian approach is to assess risks with a thoroughness that is uncommon elsewhere. This is why the NORSOK industrial standards have set new benchmarks for all aspects of industrial safety in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Whether it demands a higher breaking strain for a boat lifting hook or safer diving practices, graduates from NYD are trained with the NORSOK philosophy in mind. This can be very reassuring for employers who need divers who can not only work well but also with safe professionalism.
The Norwegian School of Commercial Diving is led by its managing director, Dag Wroldsen, and his deputy manager, Håkon Larsen. Wroldsen founded the school back in 1989, since when more than 2000 divers have graduated from its courses. Wroldsen believes that much of the school’s success is due to the facilities that are available to students. “We have a 200-metre quay where classrooms, our nine diving stations and changing rooms are all grouped together,” he says. “This makes it a modern and efficient facility where, because we have ideal conditions for diving, we are able to conduct up to 10,000 dives every year.”
“Students also enjoy the benefit of staying in accommodation around the pleasant community of Nesodden which is just an hour’s drive south of Oslo,” he adds.
Although there are predictable medical requirements that students must pass, there is little to stand in their way to prevent them becoming commercial divers. The school even prefers it if they have never dived before as that ensures that they are not accompanied by any bad habits. As long as they are confident about being under water, students can get as much from their training as they are prepared to put into learning.
“The commercial diving course consists of theoretical and practical parts,” Wroldsen explains. “The purpose of the first and theoretical part of the course is to give pupils a grounding in diving medicine, diving physics, decompression tables, seamanship, underwater work and diving risks. The practical part is the actual diving. Our facilities mean that the students get to spend a lot of hours underwater where they learn how to use a range of different equipment.”
It is the diving stations available to students, combined with the expertise of their instructors, that enable the school to offer such comprehensive training. Its students even get the opportunity to learn the techniques of TUP (transfer under pressure) diving. “We have the same type of system that students would encounter aboard a vessel and we believe it is important that they leave here equipped to deal with any situation that might arise in industry,” says Wroldsen.
With three pressure chambers, a wet bell and a dry bell at their disposal, the NYD instructors are able to replicate virtually every working situation that their students might encounter. When students Dean Wise and Zak Turner from the UK returned to the surface after a session practicing their underwater welding skills they were full of enthusiasm for what they had been learning. They admitted that they had needed to make some personal sacrifices to cover the cost of their training investment but did not begrudge the expenditure.
“We came here because we’d heard that it’s the best place in the world to learn to be a commercial diver,” they say, adding that they felt confident that the training they were receiving would get their careers off to a good start.