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

New IMCA Guidance on Underwater Air Lift Bags

The Underwater Centre Air Lift Bag Guidance and Training 2The International Marine Contractor’s Association (IMCA) have recently clarified and strengthened the guidance on the operation of underwater air lift bags.  Alf Leadbitter, Dive Training Authority at The Underwater Centre, explains the need behind the recent changes to the Guidance on Open Parachute Type Underwater Air Lift Bags.

Air lift bag use: clarification needed

Alf says, “The clarification was first recognised as being needed by commercial diving schools, as students could not read the document and then write a plan for using air lift bags.  IMCA also recognised the need, as engineers were asking for clarification on diving jobs from around the world.  The misunderstanding was mainly concerning drawings, although some confusion was in the writing.’

‘A second concern was raised by the manufacturer that bags were being returned with damage caused by the inverter line. This led to some tests being carried out which concluded that the force in the inverter line was far greater than originally thought.  There was no way of calculating the force as many factors were involved, and an agreed Minimum Breaking Force (MBF) of 1.5 times the lifting capacity of the bag was recommended for both the attachment points and the inverter line.

‘New drawings were then provided by Alan Melia, Offshore Diving Manager at Global Energy, and the changes to the guidelines were subsequently agreed at the working group, of which I was a member with other interested parties.”

The Underwater Centre Air Lift Bag Guidance and Training 1Commercial diver training in air lift bag use

While the new guidelines give clearer guidelines on the use of air lift bags, The Underwater Centre has been using air lift bags configured the correct IMCA way for many years; air lift bags are commonly used by commercial divers, therefore training in the use of air lift bags is included as standard in our commercial diver training packages.

For more information on IMCA’s Diving Division, including codes of practice and competencies, visit their website here. 

For more information on what’s included in our commercial diver training packages visit our website here, or contact us on +44 1397 703786 or

Find out more about Commercial Diver training 2

Ex-miner trains for new commercial diving career

It’s been said before, but we’ll say it again – there’s no such thing as a traditional career path in commercial diving. At The Underwater Centre, our commercial diving course is the first step to an exciting new career for people from a huge range of work backgrounds. If you’ve got the attitude and aptitude, you can train for a new career in commercial diving.

Australian Anthony Eaton has recently completed our Premium Package Commercial Diving Course at The Underwater Centre Tasmania. We spoke to him half-way through his training; he told us about his route into diving and his inspiring ambitions for the future.

Anthony Eaton The Underwater Centre Commercial Diver Training 2
What’s your background Anthony?

I’m 46 years old and I’m from Perth, Australia. I now split my time between Brisbane and Papua New Guinea.

After agricultural college, I did an apprenticeship in boilermaker/welding, which took me to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to work in various gold mines. Within a few years I was managing welding crews, both in PNG and Australia and after a few more years I started my own crane repair company, which I have now been running for 18 years.

Why did you choose to train as a commercial diver and why at The Underwater Centre?

For most of my life I have worked on land, but I’ve always wanted to work in and around water, so when I found out about commercial diving courses at The Underwater Centre in Tasmania I decided it was the job for me! I made some enquiries and within six months I was on my way there to start the 12-week Premium Package, which includes ADAS Parts 1, 2 and 3. I chose The Underwater Centre Tasmania on the recommendation of a good friend and after my own extensive research into the best place to do a commercial diving course.

How are you finding the course?Anthony Eaton The Underwater Centre Commercial Diver Training 4

I am currently just over half way through my Premium Package and am really enjoying it. The staff are all commercial divers themselves and really know their stuff. On the Premium Package I feel I’m really getting the best preparation possible for entering the world of commercial diving. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants an exciting and challenging commercial diving career.

What’s next for you Anthony?

My wife and I have been fortunate enough to be able to buy our own small island in West New Britain, PNG, where we have been hard at work building an eco-friendly holiday resort for the past four years. It’s called Ulaui Island and we’re very excited about it – it’s a beautiful place for visitors and we’ll run diving trips in the stunning coral reefs there as part of the experience. Once I complete my commercial diving course, we will be moving to the island for good and I will start my diving career working locally and overseas, as well as help with running the resort.

Find out more about the Premium Package course that’s starting Anthony on his commercial diving career. Email us on, or call to chat to one of our student advisors on +61 3 6383 4844.

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The Underwater Centre Receives ISO 9001 Certification

After a highly intensive audit delivered by the British Assessment Bureau, The Underwater Centre, Fort William, has received ISO 9001 certification.

The Underwater Centre Fort William down Loch LinnheBeing externally audited against ISO 9001 is an independent assessment of the quality of the management systems that control and support our training methods and practices.  We aim to achieve a level that meets and surpasses our customer’s needs; ISO 9001 confirms the high standards of the systems we have in place to ensure the quality of our products.

ISO 9001 audit of training systems and infrastructure

The audit examined systems and processes within a wide range of departments; from customer communications, to staff training and competency, and the PMS (Planned Maintenance Schedule) system we use to ensure equipment integrity is upheld.  Our own internal quality management auditing systems were highly complimented.  The level of support and service that we have provided our customers over the decades is largely due to the systems we have in place, and their continued improvement.

Stamp of assurance

The Underwater Centre receives ISO9001 certificationSteve Ham, Commercial Director at The Underwater Centre, said, “The certification isn’t simply an endorsement of what we say we do: it is a stamp of assurance that we have the systems and facilities in place to consistently deliver a high level of quality across all of our courses.’

‘Quality is very much about our customers: it’s about ensuring that they receive what they expect, and that we are customer focussed in designing and delivering our services.’

‘Ultimately we are all about delivering a great service to our customers. But it is important to us that we have an independent verification of the systems in place that help us achieve this. ISO 9001 will help us continue to improve both the level of service we offer to our customers and the customer satisfaction we can provide.”

For more information about the training services we provide visit our website here, or contact us on +44 1397 703786 or

Diving Competencies: IMCA Updates Nitrox Frameworks

In their latest Making Waves magazine the International Marine Contractor’s Association (IMCA) highlights that their diving frameworks have been updated to reflect the growing use of Nitrox in commercial diving practices. Working in collaboration with the subsea industry, The Underwater Centre introduced Nitrox training in 2014 in recognition and anticipation of the increased use of Nitrox, and welcomes the update. 

IMCA Making Waves Nitrox UpdatesIMCA: Update to Nitrox frameworks

IMCA said, “As a result of a recent request by industry, IMCA has introduced optional nitrox competencies within its current diving competence assurance scheme. IMCA’s frameworks for air (surface supplied) diving supervisors (D 03) and surface supplied divers (D 05) have both been updated. The new competencies encompass; nitrox related safety, nitrox diving operations and nitrox related diving emergencies. Whilst it is accepted that some national diver training programmes already include the theory of diving breathing gases other than air, this change will help contractors to demonstrate that all of their offshore diving personnel, using nitrox as a breathing mixture, are competent to do so.”

IMCA Making Waves, Issue 79, June 2016 (Page 15)


What this means for divers and dive companies

Alf Leadbitter Dive Training AuthorityAlf Leadbitter, Dive Training Authority at The Underwater Centre, explains, “In practical terms this means dive companies will have to prove that their divers are competent in dealing with the issues which have been added to D03.”

Steve Ham, Commercial Director at the Centre, adds, “All of our air diving students now leave with a Nitrox ticket which includes theoretical and practical instruction in Nitrox standards. We can also run this as a stand-alone course and we hope it will help contractors demonstrate that their diving personnel are competent in the use of Nitrox.”

The inclusion of Nitrox training in The Underwater Centre’s Premium and Construction commercial diver packages for 2016 – including a dive using nitrox – means that our commercial diving graduates will already meet these new competencies, thus helping to make them more employable.  Read more about Nitrox training on this recent blog post.

Find out more about Commercial Enriched Air Nitrox training here

To find out more about Commercial Enriched Air Nitrox training, visit our website here, or contact us on +44 1397 703786 or email


Hydraulics Training: New Fluid Power Systems Course

The Underwater Centre in Fort William has introduced a new hydraulics course which will provide candidates from a wide range of industries with an introduction to fluid power systems.

Hydraulic-Rig-Hydraulic-Training-at-The-Underwater-CentreFluid power systems are an essential component of many industrial applications in manual and automated plant found throughout the world. From agriculture, to marine engineering, to complex robotic and mechatronic subsea systems, hydraulics is the first choice for delivering accurate and powerful solutions to many processes.

Hydraulics will play a vital role in the training portfolio of an adaptable, flexible and innovative young work-force. As well as giving candidates an introduction to the principles of fluid mechanics, this new course will provide hands-on experience using the Centre’s new training equipment.

Course content: Practical application of oil-powered hydraulics

Hydraulics Level 1’ deals with the concepts and practical application of oil-powered hydraulics within industry, typically encountered by technicians. Using a range of instructional techniques, candidates will gain experience of closed-loop and open-loop systems.

Throughout the three-day course, students will learn about core concepts including:

  • fluid principles,
  • hydraulic symbols and notation,
  • pressure, flow and directional control,
  • pumps
  • oils and filtration
  • energy storage,
  • basic electrical theory,
  • electrical control of hydraulic actuation
  • hose management, pressure testing and fittings,
  • fault-finding,
  • report-writing,
  • practical exercises.

Candidates will come away from this course with a solid grounding in hydraulics and experience that can be utilised across all industries.

Case Study: BSW Timber hydraulics training

The-Underwater-Centre-Fort-William-Hydraulics-Training-BSW-Timber-350x233BSW Timber, based just outside of Fort William, sent three maintenance technicians to take part in the inaugural Hydraulics Level 1 course. Scottish companies such as this can benefit from reducing the costs and time which would have previously been spent on a course south of the border.

Ewen Smith, Engineering Manager at BSW said, ‘The feedback from the candidates we put on the course was very positive. The course was well run by knowledgeable instructors, using very up to date equipment. It’s great to be able to get good quality technical training on your doorstep and we plan to use The Underwater Centre in the future for our hydraulic training requirements.’

Steve Ham, Commercial Director at The Underwater Centre said, ‘Hydraulics Level 1 is a three day nationally-recognised training course with hands-on practical exercises using top of the range training equipment.’

With highly effective trainers and high-quality hydraulic equipment The Underwater Centre is set up to provide its students with the training to help them  succeed in their chosen careers, as well as facilitating greater ease of training for companies in Scotland.

Visit our website here for more information about Hydraulics Level 1, or contact us on +44 1397 703786 or

Find out more about Hydraulics Training