New rules provide business boost for Scots subsea training centre

Alf Leadbitter
Alf Leadbitter

The subsea training facility at Fort William is preparing for changes to the requirements for experienced commercial air divers which will come in to play in April 2016.

At the moment, candidates looking to take part in the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) or ADAS (Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme) closed bell diving courses need to have a minimum of 50 logged dives totalling at least 50 hours.  

This will increase to 100 logged dives totalling at least 100 hours – doubling the required dives a commercial air diver must have.

The decision to change the pre-requisites has come from industry agreement, from the IDRCF (International Diving Regulators and Certifiers Forum) and with input from IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association).

Alf Leadbitter, Dive Training Authority at The Underwater Centre, who has been training commercial air and mixed gas divers for over 30 years, and contributed to the working group set up by the IDRCF, believes the changes are a positive move.

He said: “The more experience commercial divers have in industry before furthering their careers the better it will be for the divers and the industry in general,” he said.

“The changes are being implemented in just a few months and this gives those wishing to train under the existing requirements a small window in which to sign up and complete the course, after which they will have to undertake significantly more logged dives.”

The Underwater Centre is a purpose-built subsea training and trials facility and is based on the shore of a seawater loch, well sheltered by the surrounding mountains.  It has a sister facility in Tasmania which was originally created to address the demand for commercial diver training in the Asia Pacific region.

David Kirkley (left) President, Society for Underwater Technology, presents Dr Kjell Olav Stinessen with his award
David Kirkley (left) President, Society for Underwater Technology, presents Dr Kjell Olav Stinessen with his award

The Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) has presented its President’s Award 2015 to Dr Kjell Olav Stinessen.

Dr Stinessen has been an engineer for over 50 years and is now a First Chief Engineer at Aker Solutions.

In 1985, he drew a sketch on the back of a napkin of his vision for how subsea compression might work in the future. In September this year, 30 years after the napkin drawing, that vision was transformed into reality with the offshore industry’s first full-scale subsea compression station in operation at the Statoil-operated Åsgard field.

Dr Stinessen said: “Being awarded SUT’s President’s Award is a great honour. Countless engineering hours have been spent together by thousands of employees at Aker Solutions, sub-suppliers, Statoil and Shell to realise this vision and I am pleased that persistence can be awarded.

“Even at the age of 73, this inspires me to carry on for more years. I am now working on the development of a new concept which I believe has the same game-changing potential as subsea compression. With the experience we’ve gained, it will not take as long as 30 years this time and I am aiming at seeing it operational while I am still in work.”

SUT’s Aberdeen Branch Award of Merit was presented to Ian Murray at a ceremony at the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa, Aberdeen.

He was recognised as supporter of the underwater community by encouraging membership, delivering project insights and making time to mentor and encourage newly graduated engineers.

Founded in 1966, the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) is a not-for-profit organisation progressing global underwater technology learning and knowledge to support advances in ocean science, subsea and offshore engineering.

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