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The Underwater Centre Blog - Training you for the job, not just the ticket

Windfarm Engineer Completes OTDR Course to Get Ahead

James Reid is an Equipment and Deck Engineer with Dutch company VBSM.NL. Based in Holland he might find himself working on any windfarm around the UK and Europe.  Last year he completed our Fibre Optics OTDR course, so we caught up with him to find out more.

james-reid_otdr_course_the-underwater-centre_fort-williamTell us about your work as an engineer for windfarms

“Since I last spoke to you we’ve finished the single mode fibre mux upgrade project to our Plough system, and I will be the Ploughing supervisor for VBMS during the installation of the export cables for the Rampion windfarm (offshore Brighton).”

Click here for more information on our fibre-optics OTDR Course

Did you find the OTDR course useful for your job?

“Definitely.  It was a very good course and I’ll look forward to doing more training in the future. One of the most useful parts was understanding the main differences between SM and MM fibres within the umbilical.  Also, the fact that there was a sample of Super Scorpio umbilical was good: it’s the same umbilical we used to upgrade our Plough system to fibre mux comm system.  Some of the actual fibre theory was a bit tricky to get my head round, but the main instructor was great, and clearly knew his stuff! Since doing the course, if there are any fibre issues and we decide to buy an OTDR I will be the one called upon to utilise it.”

fibre-optics-otdr-course-the-underwater-centre-fort-williamFibre Optics – Systems, Integration and Testing (OTDR) Course

“The information and knowledge I gained through training at The Underwater Centre became extremely valuable during the upgrade project, so it was well worthwhile and I’m glad I made the effort.”

The Fibre Optics – Systems, Integration and Testing (with optional 1-day OTDR) Course at The Underwater Centre in Fort William teaches students how to deal with the handling, maintenance and testing of fibre optics within the marine environment.

For more information about fibre optics training, or remotely operated vehicle training, visit our website here.  Alternatively contact us on or +1397 703786


Kevin Casey: Saturation Diver and Maritime Collector

66 year old saturation diver and maritime collector talks to about his life:

Student saturation diver exiting the closed bell in Loch LinnheDescribe your transition from a 40-year commercial diving career into the maritime literature. Was it a gradual, natural transition or a more sudden business venture?

At 66, I am still working as a saturation diver around the world but primarily in the North Sea. I hail from Melbourne, Australia but the UK has been my home since the 1970’s.

I have always had a love for history, and since starting in the oil industry over 40 years ago, an interest in diving history began and I then started collecting books, prints and artifacts on the subject. Over time the collection developed to a point where in 1990 I started selling duplicates from my collection, and since then it has developed into the business you see on the internet today.

For an explanation of saturation diving, visit this earlier blog post.

When did you first begin collecting these types of prints and books, and what’s one of your first ones?

I started collecting in the 1970’s and now have prints dating from around the early 1700’s through to the 1950’s and books from the mid 1700’s to the present day. With the book collecting, I have primarily kept that to military, commercial and children’s.

One of the first illustrations I collected was of the Tay Bridge Disaster that happened in Dundee, Scotland, in December 1879 and printed in January 1880.

For books, it was a copy of Deep Diving and Submarine Operations by R. H. Davis of Siebe Gorman. The book was signed by the author to Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb, the famous WWII British diver who was awarded the George Medal for his daring exploits.

How do you feel your business serves the maritime industry as a whole?

From working in the industry and dealing in books and prints for many years, I have built up a network of contacts in both areas and a good reputation. When people associated with the underwater industry are looking for specific items either for reference, to collect or as gifts, I am their obvious contact.

An example of this: The authors of two important publications, The History of Oilfield Diving and Into the Lion’s Mouth have used me as their sole European distributor.

Sub Aqua History Prints

Kevin with his book collection. Photo property of Sub Aqua History Prints.

Within your print categories, what are some of your most popular types of items?

One of the most popular types are the romantic ones depicting old hard hat divers fighting sea monsters and finding wrecks or treasure.

Do you and your wife have specific roles or specialties concerning Sub Aqua History Prints, or are you both “jacks of all trades”?

Probably we are both “jacks of all trades”. I have the knowledge and contacts, but when I am away offshore, my wife takes over the helm dealing with all the orders so the business runs smoothly and we continue to give a first class service.

What’s one of the oldest books and prints that Sub Aqua has possessed in its inventory?

One of the oldest prints in stock at the moment is an original copper engraving of Halley’s diving bell dating from 1752. With regards to books, I have a copy of a miniature book about the Royal George shipwreck which sank in 1782. The covers are made from the wood of the ship which was salvaged in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s.

From your diving experience and dealing with commercial divers, would you say that many share an interest in collecting antiquities?

There are quite a few commercial divers who share an interest in collecting, and many would like to have an old standard diving hat sitting in their house. Divers’ collecting habits are quite diverse with some specialising in equipment, others in books on specific areas of diving, whilst some just want prints to hang on their walls.

– Kevin Casey, Co-owner of Sub Aqua History Prints

From its start in the nineties, Sub Aqua History Prints provides original, maritime prints and books dating over a 200-year time span.

Original article published on, available here.

Find out more about careers in commercial diving on our website here, or for more information contact or call +1397 703786

Find out more about commercial diving

Collaboration drives C2C tidal testing

the-underwater-centre-collaboration-drives-c2c-tidal-testing-1Aberdeenshire-based tidal energy developer, Current2Current (C2C), has highlighted the collaboration as the key driver for the advancement of its tidal energy technology.

The tidal device developed by C2C is currently undergoing several weeks of testing off west Scotland at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, one of the partners in the project.

Click here for more information about subsea testing at The Underwater Centre

C2C has recently received financial backing in the amount of £100,000 from the Scottish Enterprise. The funding contributed to a £260,000 R&D feasibility project the company is undertaking to further develop its tidal technology.

Collaboration paramount to successful project

Brian Barnard, Managing Director of C2C, said: “Collaboration is paramount when it comes to achieving a successful project. Working effectively with your key project partners takes determination and practice to get it right but it is definitely worth the effort with all parties ultimately benefiting from working together.”

Prior to the testing of the device, there have been several months of design and fabrication works conducted with another key partner – All Oceans Engineering, who were tasked with the entire fabrication process.

Brian Able, Managing Director at All Oceans Engineering, said: “We were delighted that our services in those early days led us to being identified as the preferred principle engineering provider to further develop the device for this next phase of extended performance trials. C2C is definitely taking tidal power generation in a unique and exciting direction.”

Early results from the testing of C2C’s tidal generator appear favorable, with the conclusive results being due by the end of this year, C2C informed.

Tidal testing: development of new technology for renewables industry

Steve Ham, Commercial Director at The Underwater Centre added: “The Underwater Centre is increasingly involved in assisting companies with the development of new technology for the renewables industry. With our experience in the subsea industry, we have been able to provide valuable advice to Current2Current for the testing of their equipment.  This, coupled with our extensive offshore facilities and equipment, mean Current2Current have been able to undertake their trial efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.”

This article originally appeared on Tidal Energy Today, click here to view.

To find out more about subsea trials and testing facilities at The Underwater Centre visit our website here, or to discuss collaboration opportunities contact us on +1397 703786 or email

Find out more about subsea testing facilities


Subsea Innovation Presents Cable Protection Cutting Tool

subsea testing trials the underwater centre subsea-innovation-presents-cable-protection-cutting-tool-320x240Subsea Innovation has completed the design, supply and live demonstration of a cable and cable protection system (CPS) cutting tool that can according to the company, remove a CPS without the need for divers.

There were numerous offshore wind industry leaders in attendance – including sales partner Tekmar Energy Limited, DONG Energy, VBMS, Jan de Nul, and CWIND.

Full scale demonstration

The event was held at The Underwater Centre near Fort William in Scotland and involved a full scale demonstration of the installation and removal of a CPS from mock-up offshore foundations.

For more information on our subsea testing and trials click here.

Work-class ROV and offshore vessel

The Underwater Centre provided a work-class remotely operated vehicle (WCROV) which was launched from an offshore vessel and carried out the operations in Loch Linnhe which is a seawater lake.

The demonstrations were carried out over a two day period. On the first day the removal operation was performed on a mock-up j-tubeless monopile foundation, whereas the second day was reserved to carry out the same operation on a mock-up j-tube. Both demonstrations were considered successful with operations being completed considerably quicker than expected.

This article originally appeared on Subsea World News.

Find out more about subsea testing facilities

ADIPEC: Exploring Opportunities in the Global Subsea Industry

The upcoming Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) aims to provide a global hub, bringing together East and West. As such it provides an excellent opportunity for businesses from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to explore regional and international opportunities in a rapidly changing and dynamic market.

adipec-email-logoFrom our Centres in Fort William, Scotland, and Tasmania, Australia, The Underwater Centre is well positioned to provide high quality training services to the global subsea industry.

Steve Ham, Commercial Director, will be attending ADIPEC along with Scottish Development International (SDI) on the 7th – 10th November 2016 (Stand 1210, Hall 1).

Visit The Underwater Centre at ADIPEC, 7th – 10th November 2016

ROV Competence Training for Subsea Industry

WCROVOne of the items on the agenda for ADIPEC is The Underwater Centre’s new model for increasing workforce competency in the ROV industry. Steve commented, “The new ROV Training Programme has been developed with a modular approach, covering topics such as ROV maintenance and operations, tooling, electrical and electronic systems, high voltage, working at heights, fibre optics and OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometer), and hydraulics. The training is also staged to address the training needs of new entrants, as well as established and experienced personnel. This approach allows training to fit with companies’ existing competence development programmes.”

“The competency and training of ROV operators will be an important factor in ensuring the continued development of the industry bringing increasingly significant operational and cost efficiencies.”

Read more about the new ROV training standards

Global ROV Training Programme

The Underwater Centre has been delivering training in partnership with and for the subsea industry for over 40 years. More recently we’ve delivered extensive commercial diver training for a Malaysian company at our Tasmanian site, and bespoke ROV operations training for SAAB Seaeye at our Fort William site.

As well as providing both commercial diver and ROV pilot technician training from our open-water, well equipped sites in Fort William and Tasmania, we also have the capability for providing some elements of training in-house, at a site of your choice. We recently provided ROV training for the Royal New Zealand Navy at the Naval base in Devonport, New Zealand.

Read more about the companies we’ve provided training for

To arrange a meeting with Steve Ham during ADIPEC please contact us on or call +44 1397 703786.

Alternatively, visit us on the Scottish Development International (SDI) stand at ADIPEC, 7th – 10th November, Stand 1210, Hall 1.