The Underwater Centre, Fort William-based subsea training and trials facility, has launched the first ever commercial diver training course in the use of Enriched Air Nitrox.
The training is already widely available in leisure diving but until now the use of Nitrox for commercial diving, which allows divers to spend longer at shallower depths and can reduce the risk of decompression illness, has predominantly been learned on the job.
The Underwater Centre has invested in new equipment to deliver the training, including an LP Nitrox producing membrane system and clean air HP compressors, Nitrox storage bank, 2 diver Nitrox panel and a dedicated clean room.
The course covers theoretical classroom-based training, as well as practical application including mobilising a Nitrox spread, monitoring a Nitrox dive, oxygen cleaning, system maintenance and partial pressure blending. Candidates also undertake a dive on Nitrox in a dedicated area within the Centre’s onshore tank complex.
The three-day intensive course has been developed after consultation with industry and aims to help companies ensure the competency of their Nitrox diving team.
Osiris, the marine services company that is part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has sent the first group of candidates to train on the pilot course. Candidates from the company included dive technicians, dive supervisors, a project manager and commercial divers, who now benefit from a greater theoretical and practical understanding of Nitrox diving.
The Centre’s General Manager, Steve Ham, believes that by listening to the needs of industry the courses being run at the Centre will help to resolve the subsea industry’s staff development problems.
“Following feedback from operators and contractors we saw there was a need to provide training in Nitrox as it is becoming an increasingly common method of commercial diving in the offshore industry,” he said. “The new course has been developed to give candidates the knowledge and understanding required to use Nitrox, become familiar with the equipment and also gain a better understanding of the benefits of its use.”
Osiris’ General Diving Manager, Kevin Hood, added: “This training gives our team a good all-round understanding of diving on Nitrox, to a standard which meets industry approval and will also clear up any grey areas which may exist from previous lack of specific training. It also gives the opportunity to reset and start from a proper foundation.”
Aiden West, Managing Director of Osiris, said: “With the coming together of offshore wind and offshore activities in general, being the first to undertake this course ensures Osiris can meet all expectations of current and future offshore clients. James Fisher and Sons plc continues to invest within its diving and ROV divisions as it continues to develop its service as a complete subsea solutions provider for the global upstream oil and gas market. The Underwater Centre has conducted the course professionally and efficiently – I have been very impressed with the course and the facilities it has to offer.”
The Underwater Centre is a purpose built training facility which incorporates an extensive pier complex including four dive stations, classrooms, workshops and decompression chambers.
With accommodation and additional classrooms based at the landward end of the pier, The Underwater Centre is set up to provide its students with the skills and experience to succeed in their new careers, and continue providing the subsea industry with the workforce that it needs.