The Underwater Centre, 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.
Thanks to 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.
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 form 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 should provide a more realistic training environment than was previously available, better preparing trainees for their future roles and providing a best-practice training experience.
The redevelopment of the system and course is seen by industry as key to maintaining the UK’s ability to train closed bell divers and underlines confidence that demand for saturation divers will grow as the energy sector continues to recover from the global downturn.
Industry and public bodies including Oil & Gas UK, Subsea UK, Subsea 7, TechnipFMC, Premier Oil and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) recently collaborated to support The Underwater Centre and ensure its future success.
Located in Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, the company now operates as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and is funded and supported by its members.