The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
The Underwater Centre, located in Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, reports it has become the world’s only commercial diving school to offer a closed bell saturation diving system with a self-propelled hyperbaric lifeboat (SPHL), following a major refurbishment at the Centre.
“Thanks to significant investment and support from the global oil and gas sector, The Underwater Centre relaunched its three-week closed bell diving course in June. The first course was fully subscribed and applications are open for future courses,” said a spokesman.
Subsea 7 and TechnipFMC have provided technical support, site supervision and conducted the refurbishment work on behalf of The Underwater Centre, which was also project managed by Subsea 7 with close collaboration and support from TechnipFMC.
As well as refurbishing equipment, completely rebuilding the closed bell and adding the SPHL from Subsea 7’s decommissioned Rockwater 1, a vessel has been converted to create a new training system – renamed Deep Diver 1.
SPHLs are one of the main means of evacuating divers from a saturation diving environment in the event of an emergency, and are an important part of most modern closed bell diving systems.
“Having this facility available on The Underwater Centre’s closed bell courses will provide a more realistic training environment than was previously available, better preparing trainees for their future roles and providing a best-practice training experience,” said the spokesman.
Jonathan Tame, vice president UK & Canada, Subsea 7, said: “We were pleased to provide support for the redevelopment of the diver training facilities at The Underwater Centre, which is recognised by the industry as being key to maintaining the UK’s ability to train closed bell divers, given the need for them in the future. The industry relevant specialist equipment that The Underwater Centre now has puts it at the forefront of diver training globally.”
The HSE Closed Bell qualification allows divers to work at various depths using oxygen and helium breathing mixtures and saturation techniques. The certification is valid across the world.
The KBA Training Centre (KBAT) in Singapore has announced the first candidate to use its newly launched Simulator Training for Saturation Diving Supervisors to complete his required panel hours.
The Centre said: “Brett Proudman, working as OCM/client representative, wanted to keep his ADAS certification in date with regard to panel hours for bell diving supervisor. To this end he decided the most efficient and cost effective way was to undertake 20 BDS simulator panel hours using KBAT’s newly installed simulator.”
The training consisted of an initial two hours of familiarisation followed by 18 hours of dives simulating all the routine stages of a regular saturation dive. Areas covered included: bell checks; dive planning; toolbox talk; pre-dive panel and control room checks; reclaim set-up; transfer of divers; bell checks; bell launch; dressing in the divers; diver lockout; proceeding to the job; undertaking the task; return to bell; diver lock in; bell recovery; and TUP of the divers.
Additionally, simple mechanical or electrical failures, such as communication failures or loss of flow to analysers, and more severe scenarios, such as unconscious divers in the water, umbilical entanglement and DP ‘run off’, were staged during the course.
Alan Rhodes, head of KBAT’s Diving Training Department, said: “The simulator is a great tool for refreshing those skills which have been lost through moving into more senior positions and not getting the panel hours in like Brett, or for preparedness for the unexpected. When you are on the panel and the instructor starts introducing simple faults or more complex scenarios, the pressure really starts to come on and it feels like you are actually out on the job, though fortunately, if something goes wrong, divers’ lives are not at risk. The scenarios which can be simulated are endless.”
Proudman said: “The course was efficient, compact and well set-up. Alan was great. He was very good at making the whole exercise flow, not an easy exercise as it was the first course.”
“As this was the first time the simulator has been used by someone to complete his panel hours, it has shown that the system does work and can be a great advantage to those wishing to complete their panel hours, but find it challenging to do so while offshore,” said KBAT.