Find us on Facebook Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter Watch us on YouTube Get us on Google
The Underwater Centre Blog - Page 2 of 51 - Training you for the job, not just the ticket

Potential Solutions for Assessing Pipeline Conditions

Assessing the condition of pipelines, especially as they get older, is an increasing task. John Sheehan surveys potential solutions.

The expansion of the offshore industry in recent decades has brought with it a huge growth in subsea pipeline infrastructure.  From the Åsgard Transport pipeline in the Norwegian North Sea to the West Natuna gas pipe line in the South China Sea, thousands of kilometers of offshore pipelines have been laid, all of which need regular inspection, repair and maintenance.

The focus on asset integrity management has also sharpened as operators look to increase the lifespan of mature assets.  Key to this are advances in both internal and external pipeline inspection technologies, which operators use to check for corrosion degradation and pipeline blockages.

Companies such as GE PII Pipeline Solutions, Rosen, TD Williamson and NDT Global among others are in the frontline in the battle against pipeline defects.

Tracerco Discovery

Another company providing clamp-on technology for pipeline inspection is Tracerco with its Discovery and Explorer offerings.

Discovery can perform a detailed high resolution CT scan of subsea pipelines, distinguishing between wax, hydrate, asphaltene or scale deposits, data that is paramount when planning any flow remediation campaigns. It can also detect wall thinning, corrosion and pitting.  Discovery is deployed using an ROV and clamped onto the pipe, with real-time communications allowing instant assessment of pipeline conditions. 

Explorer meanwhile, can fast screen pipelines (100m/hr) to locate restrictions. Explorer detects the location of deposit build-ups by measuring the density profile of the pipeline and then analyzing any detected anomalies. An abnormal density, in relation to the material flowing in the line, indicates a build-up of deposit.

Both devices work without the need to remove the pipe coating material. Once Explorer has located the area of the suspected blockage, Discovery can be deployed to accurately characterize its precise nature.  The technology has recently been deployed to Australia, where there are more than 4000km of subsea pipelines in operation.

“Operators who face flow challenges need to get their pipelines back to full operation quickly,” says Ken Pearson, Tracerco’s managing director in Australasia. “The speed at which we can deploy, coupled with the fact that coatings do not need to be removed from the lines before inspection, saves time and costs whilst mitigating the risk of damage to the pipeline.”

Excerpts from original article ‘Seeing in the deep’, Offshore Engineer.

Testing in a realistic, controlled, and cost-effective manner is crucial to the development of new technologies, such as Discovery, which trialled at The Underwater Centre.

To find out more about the subsea test facilities available in Fort William, visit our website here.  Alternatively you can contact us on +44 1397 703786 or


ADAS Changes to Commercial Air Diving Courses

PLEASE NOTE: The information in this blog post has now been superceded and these changes are no longer taking place.  For more information click here

The Australian Diving Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) has initiated changes in the way that occupational divers will be trained into the future. As a result, from July 2017 The Underwater Centre, Tasmania, will be changing our ADAS Occupational Air Diver training packages.

Summary of ADAS Changes

With the growing use and demand for Surface Supplied Diving, ADAS have made the following changes:


  • The removal of the existing 4 week ADAS Part 1 Occupational SCUBA course,
  • The amalgamation of the ADAS Part 1 and Part 1 Restricted programs into one 3-week training program. This course will result in an ADAS Occupational SCUBA qualification to 30m.
  • Removal of the ADAS Part 1 (Occupational SCUBA) prerequisite for the Surface Supplied Breathing Apparatus (SSBA) training stream.

In conjunction with the changes, ADAS has created a new SSBA to 30m (ADAS Part 2) course, extending the current 4-weeks duration to 8-weeks. This new ADAS Part 2 covers all of the tasks previously taught on the ADAS Part 1 SCUBA. The Underwater Centre is aware that because there are still industry sectors that require the use of SCUBA, the “Occupational SCUBA” course will be run as a standalone course. This course will be run on demand to cater for industry needs.

Operations Manager, Herb Mitton, said, “We see this as a major step forward in ensuring diver safety for the commercial diving sector.”

If you have any questions about the ADAS changes, or about our commercial air diver training in general, please contact our Student Advisors on +61 3 6383 4844 or email

Visit our website for more information on commercial air diver training

The Underwater Centre Awarded for Increasing Diver Safety

The Underwater Centre, Fort William, has picked up a top award at the prestigious 2017 Subsea UK Awards ceremony in Aberdeen.

The Centre triumphed in the Innovation for Safety Award for its role in improving diver safety through its development of Commercial Enriched Air Nitrox training for the commercial diving sector.  The award  recognises an innovation that has significantly contributed to improving safety within the subsea sector.  The annual awards ceremony seeks to recognise companies and individuals who are leading the way in Britain’s £9billion subsea sector.

Find out more about Commercial Enriched Air Nitrox training here



Improve the safety of an entire dive team

The Underwater Centre was the first to respond to an identified shortfall in the commercial diving sector for training in the use and supervision of Nitrox as a breathing medium: a lack of theoretical knowledge by supervisors and clients was potentially hazardous. With the help of several industry professionals the Centre developed a course to address this need, aiming to improve the safety of an entire dive team involved with Nitrox diving operations.

Commercial Director, Steve Ham said, “This award is recognition that our training has significantly increased the awareness of the safety issues surrounding diving using Nitrox, and especially to the supporting personnel of a Nitrox diving operation.”

BP Global Diving Technical Authority confirms 

Nitrox significantly increases divers’ efficiency and, when used correctly, can add to their safety. However, nitrox also brings with it an increase in other risks and that’s why training is so important.

Derek Beddows, BP Global Diving Technical Authority confirms, “In recent years there has been a shift away from the traditional surface-supplied air diving techniques to surface-supplied nitrox diving or equivalent air depth diving.

“This course will certainly help to increase confidence in the competencies and abilities of commercial divers using nitrox in the field.  It’s a notable step forward for the commercial diving training requirements and one that will continue to promote safe operations.”

All students taking our commercial air diving package courses receive this important additional course. For more information, visit our website here, or contact us on +44 1397 703 786 or email



For the full press release and award image click here.

‘The 100 Fastest Growing Jobs of 2016’ – Commercial Diving No. 6

American site recently reported on ‘The 100 Fastest Growing Jobs of 2016’; it highlights the appearance of commercial diving at number 6 and links it to the growth of the wind turbine industry.  Read the full article below:

“The fastest growing jobs list is led by the wind energy and public health industries, with home health aides and commercial diving making the top 10.

“A recent report studying the latest state job data and federal labor projections has determined the United States’ 100 fastest growing jobs.

“According to the researchers at Zippia, a career resource company, the jobs indicate industry trends and national priorities. But on a more practical level, the fastest growing jobs listed can also be considered reliably secure because they are here to stay, said the report authors.

“The list is something civic leaders should consider with workforce development and education initiatives:

We were surprised to see that the fastest growing jobs weren’t all in technology, but spanned technology and medicine. To us, that is indicative of a wide array of job options for anyone who is willing to get an advanced degree. It also shows that a Bachelor’s Degree just isn’t going to cut it for millennials today,” said Kristy Crane, Zippia’s public relations manager.

The top 100 fastest growing professions are:

  1. Wind Turbine Service Technicians
  2. Occupational Therapy Assistants
  3. Physical Therapist Assistants
  4. Physical Therapist Aides
  5. Home Health Aides
  6. Commercial Divers
  7. Nurse Practitioners
  8. Physical Therapists
  9. Statisticians
  10. Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians
  11. Occupational Therapy Aides
  12. Physician Assistants
  13. Operations Research Analysts
  14. Personal Financial Advisors
  15. Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
  16. Genetic Counselors
  17. Interpreters and Translators
  18. Audiologists
  19. Hearing Aid Specialists
  20. Optometrists
  21. Occupational Therapists
  22. Web Developers
  23. Forensic Science Technicians
  24. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
  25. Personal Care Aides
  26. Solar Photovoltaic Installers
  27. Prosthodontists
  28. Phlebotomists
  29. Ophthalmic Medical Technicians
  30. Nurse Midwives
  31. Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
  32. Opticians, Dispensing
  33. Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers
  34. Medical Assistants
  35. Therapists, All Other
  36. Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other
  37. Biomedical Engineers
  38. Helpers–Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters
  39. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
  40. Bicycle Repairers
  41. Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
  42. Law Teachers, Postsecondary
  43. Orthotists and Prosthetists
  44. Massage Therapists
  45. Speech-Language Pathologists
  46. Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary
  47. Athletic Trainers
  48. Anesthesiologists
  49. Computer Systems Analysts
  50. Medical Secretaries
  51. Mathematicians
  52. Surgeons
  53. Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
  54. Mental Health Counselors
  55. Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance
  56. Nurse Anesthetists
  57. Healthcare Social Workers
  58. Insulation Workers, Mechanical
  59. Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary
  60. Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic
  61. Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary
  62. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
  63. Software Developers, Applications
  64. Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
  65. Dental Hygienists
  66. Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
  67. Brickmasons and Blockmasons
  68. Dental Assistants
  69. Orthodontists
  70. Helpers–Electricians
  71. Dentists, General
  72. Industrial Machinery Mechanics
  73. Actuaries
  74. Information Security Analysts
  75. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
  76. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
  77. Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists
  78. Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  79. Film and Video Editors
  80. Nursing Assistants
  81. Chiropractors
  82. Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic
  83. Entertainment Attendants and Related Workers, All Other
  84. Social Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary, All Other
  85. Medical and Health Services Managers
  86. Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary
  87. Dietitians and Nutritionists
  88. Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary
  89. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
  90. Pile-Driver Operators
  91. Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners
  92. Registered Nurses
  93. Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary
  94. Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary
  95. Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary
  96. Computer and Information Systems Managers
  97. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
  98. Self-Enrichment Education Teachers
  99. Credit Counselors
  100. Physics Teachers, Postsecondary

Fastest Growing Jobs Methodology

“Zippia’s data crunching relied on gathering all the states’ departments of labor data and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent occupation growth projections. The Bureau last compiled that data in 2014, with projections through 2024.

“The researchers selected the 818 occupations that the Bureau projects will have at least 1,000 workers in 2024. Next, Zippia ranked each occupation based on its expected job growth from 2016 to 2024.

Windtech is Fastest Growing Job in America

“The results put wind turbine service techs at the number one spot. Windtechs, as they are also known, install, maintain and repair wind turbines. Their annual median wage, according to the Bureau’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, is more than $51,000 per year.

“Interestingly, the sixth fastest growing career — commercial diver — may also be related to global increases in offshore wind projects. Although Zippia said they could not confirm this correlation from their study, and the Bureau’s handbook did not have specific information about the profession, the federal labor department indicates the commercial diver occupation has a much higher than average growth rate. Note that commercial diving excludes diving for fisheries-related work, athletics/sports and public safety, the Bureau noted. Further, O-NetCenter, a careers resource center supported by the U.S. Department of Labor, indicates that the top industries driving commercial divers’ jobs are construction and self-employment.

“According to, the global energy market research firm Douglas-Westwood reported in 2010 an increased need for commercial divers to support European wind energy projects. Today, the company is forecasting global investments of €200 billion in offshore wind energy projects through 2025. Again this past February, alerted commercial divers to work opportunities in the wind sector, in addition to decommissioning of older North Sea fossil fuel rigs. The site reported that 2015 was the wind industry’s busiest year with numerous new offshore farms in construction or planning phases, and then pointed readers to where they could search work opportunities.”

To find out more about training for a career in commercial diving visit our website here.  Alternatively contact our Student Advisors on +44 1397 703786 or email

Original article from here.

Loch Linnhe: Seabed mapping using AUVs

Upper Loch Linnhe, where The Underwater Centre is situated, is a shallow-silled loch in northern Scotland. One of the larger lochs on the country’s west coast, the loch is approximately 15 kilometres long and ranges in depth from 0 to 150 metres. The mouth of the loch leads out to Loch Linnhe at the Corran Narrows, a bottleneck less than 200 metres wide, where a sill 11 metres deep separates the upper loch from the much larger lower one (Figure 1). This narrow passage contributes to the sea-loch’s relatively strong cross-sill tidal currents, which encourage the mixing of sea and fresh water and make surface ship-based hydrographic surveying difficult.

Collecting high-resolution images of these seafloor resources for use by the Centre’s students has proved particularly difficult, as data collected using surface vessels was often distorted by variability in the loch’s mixing layer. This was especially true in the areas immediately surrounding the Centre, as it is located approximately half a kilometre from the mouth of the River Lochy, the primary freshwater source of Upper Loch Linnhe.

Mapping the seabed of Loch Linnhe using AUVs

In June of 2014, the Centre decided to map the seabed of Upper Loch Linnhe using a low logistic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) provided by Kongsberg Maritime Aberdeen. Though AUVs are frequently used for surveying in open water, the vehicles have rarely been deployed to survey inland waterways. This was partly due to logistics, but also because shallow waters reduced the navigation capabilities of the vehicles. With the availability of military grade inertial measurement units, when coupled to Doppler velocity loggers and depth sensors, we have the ability to implement close coupled fully integrated inertial navigation solutions while previous subsea ventures would rely heavily on acoustic positioning only. This in turns gives the high levels of accuracy required to provide high-resolution imagery in shallow water surveying.

Recently, however, advances in positioning technology have created systems with high enough accuracy to provide reliable data for shallow-water surveying.

Using an AUV to map the loch seabed offered two important advantages over traditional hydrographic surface vessel operations. Firstly, because the AUV operates below the thermocline in the deep water protected by the sill of the loch, it is not subject to interference from the surface-level mixing of sea and fresh water. Most AUVs are capable of safely operating within several metres of the seafloor, which enables them to collect high-resolution acoustic data regardless of conditions in the water closer to the surface.

Secondly, AUVs that operate in inland waters require significantly less logistical support than surface ships. While AUVs that operate at depths below half a kilometre require significant infrastructure, such as a large support vessel with a dedicated launch and recovery system (LARS), vehicles that deploy in the relatively shallow water found in fjords are typically man-portable and can be launched from any pier or vessel of convenience. Together, these capabilities drove the decision to use a portable AUV to map the bottom of Upper Loch Linnhe.

Equipment Used

A variety of equipment was used in the surveying effort. The AUV used was a Kongsberg Hydroid REMUS 100 equipped with a suite of sensors, including a Kongsberg Geoacoustics Geoswath Multibeam Echo sounder, Edgetech side-scan sonar and conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensor. The multibeam echo sounder and side-scan sonar were used in tandem, which meant that a single AUV mission could generate both two- and three-dimensional sonar images simultaneously. Essentially we have a true side-scan mosaic representation of the seafloor but, in addition, the Geoswath allows us to give true xyz datapoints referenced to any particular datum allowing quantifiable measurements to be taken on the seafloor rather than relying on the shadow lengths as conventionally done when using solely side-scan sonar systems. The temperature and salinity information, along with all other sensor data, were available post-mission for analysis, allowing both temporal and spatial control of the collection.

Missions and Results

Two missions were conducted in the area around the Centre’s private pier, in waters ranging from 8 to 68 metres in depth (Figure 2) referenced to lowest astronomical tide (LAT). The AUV was in operation for a total of approximately three and a half hours, with each mission lasting between one and a half and two hours. Both missions were launched directly from a nearby tethered barge by a two-person team of AUV operators. The vehicle flew below the loch’s mixing layer and thermocline, which varies in depth due to the fast changing bottom depth but lies at approximately 8 to 16 metres. Therefore, its onboard sonar instruments were subject to significantly less noise and were able to gather data using much shorter pulse lengths than would have been possible from a surface ship. This enabled the AUV to generate extremely high-resolution sonar images of the wrecked craft on the seabed around the Centre (Figure 3). These two wrecked craft are located just off the Centre’s main pier, in water approximately 45 metres deep. They can also be seen in Figure 2, slightly to the West of the pier’s end.

Loch Linnhe Chart AUV Mapping Kongsberg Seabed Mapping The Underwater Centre

Loch Linnhe Chart AUV Mapping Kongsberg Seabed Mapping The Underwater Centre
Picture 1 of 4

The Centre can now use the data collected by the AUV to generate geo-referenced maps of Upper Loch Linnhe, which included the true locations of all wrecks of interest on the seabed. These maps, used in conjunction with an ultra-short baseline (USBL) positioning system, make it much easier for the Centre’s ROV pilot technicians and commercial divers in training to locate the wrecks and begin their work.

This is an excerpt from ‘Mapping the Floor of Upper Loch Linnhe Using AUVs’ by Richard ‘Bungy Williams, Hydroid UK and Craig Wallace, Kongsberg Maritime, UK.  Click here for the full article.

Our subsea site is used for both commercial diver and ROV pilot technician training, as well as being available for subsea testing and trials.  For more information on the site features visit our website here.

Alternatively, contact us on +44 1397 703786 or