Find us on Facebook Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter Watch us on YouTube Get us on Google
The Underwater Centre Blog - Page 3 of 51 - Training you for the job, not just the ticket

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

Former Student Advice: Commercial Diving Skills

In last week’s blog post, commercial diver Mikey McManus shared his thoughts on how best to get started in a diving career.  In this post he talks about the skills he gained from his military background and the training received at The Underwater Centre, and how they contributed to his commercial diving career.

Tell us about your working life before training as a commercial diver

“I have had a varied and colourful working life, so my life experience is quite handy, however I have the luxury of being ex-military who went on to become a teacher.  I spent 12 years in the Army spanning the Royal Artillery to the Parachute Regiment; when I retired I got my degree and became a teacher.  Since moving to the West Coast of Scotland, neither of these skills were paying out, so a career change was needed to make where I lived more accessible to employment for me.”

“Having a military background makes the dive industry easier for me, as the format is the same; small teams operating on one job, with everyone bringing their abilities and characters to the forefront of the job, having to get on and be able operate effectively on your own but part of the wider team, making sure everyone is on the same page. There are many transferrable skills in this industry and every new colleague you work with will have a varied background, but that’s where networking comes in again as it is these veterans of the industry who will mould you in to the diver you become.  I may be 40, but I’m learning from guys half my age and I take the stick that comes with it (as well as the nick names and the daily, friendly abuse) but I was prepared for that and happy with this, as I know the lads I work with get something from having me there too, and that is what makes an effective team.”

Did you find the advice and support of the instructors helpful?

“It’s all valuable; you have instructors from all over the industry with their own experiences and abilities, quirks, tips, personalities. It helps you realise the situation of both inshore and offshore life, how they have adapted to it, problems and how they overcame them, who taught them, teams they learned from; it all ties together to help you get the full potential of the industry, but it’s all on you as the diver to make it work.  These guys can give you the tickets and the advice, but only you can make it work.  Being local, I’ve been back to the school and spoke with ALL of my instructors, laughing (now) about certain situations and how I reacted or applied techniques to the job at hand and it’s only because of the industry time I have gained, I can see what they meant by it all.  They like the feedback, not because they knew they were right but because the penny has dropped for you and they were once in the very same place, so they know and clearly happy that the instruction has helped to further your new career change.  There’s also the fact that some of these guys still have very real and current contacts within the industry; so work is available if you’re willing to be that guy or girl and take on board what they are telling you.”

Read more about the advice and support from our commercial diving instructors

Do you feel that having spent time in the various tasks to support a diver (such as tending, logging, etc) increased your employability?

“I wouldn’t say it means you’re more employable because you have done those tasks, but it certainly helps you understand what is required of you on any job site.  Paperwork and the like is, sometimes, just as important as the actual task that you are on site to do and as long as you follow the guidelines set out by the client and the company you are working for, it does make life a lot easier and safer for everyone.  Knowing how to tend a diver in the water is pretty important and you are an additional standby to fill any task required of you if things go sideways, which is the same as data entry; whether it’s filling out dive times and dive tables or just writing a report on what work has been carried out, is ALL valid.  Having the school set up as a work site is very important and gives you the first look at a dive team on site and what is required of them, which means you are more employable because you know what is required of you.”

Do you think that the underwater tools and skills you gained at The Underwater Centre increased your chances of finding employment?

“Definitely.  There is a lot to be said about having the right information in your head and, while various companies inevitably do things their own way, it is all based on the ONE way people have been taught.  I was lucky that what I did over 3 months at the Centre I got to do on a job, whether it be surface demand or scuba, broco cutting or underwater welding, fixing a flange, working from a basket, drilling, cutting – the total school syllabus was applied in a working context, so it gave me an opportunity to see WHY things are done the way they are.  Protocols, paperwork, rules, regulations, kit checks etc all there for your safety and ease of work and it’s quite clichéd to say it, but what you learn is how it is and that is just the basics.  When your career goes further, you’ll learn new skills, ways of doing things, ways that certain companies prefer things, but they are based on a foundation of core skills that will be built on.”

Click here to read Mikey’s advice on getting your first job and working successfully as a commercial diver.

For more information about the core skills received on our commercial diving courses visit our website here.

Alternatively contact our Student Advisors on +44 1397 703786 or email

Former Student Advice: Finding Commercial Diving Work

Mikey McManus qualified as a commercial diver from The Underwater Centre, Fort William in November 2015.  He got his first job just 3 days after completing his course.  He tells us about finding commercial diving work, and provides advice and tips on getting started in your new career.

Tell us about your work as a commercial diver so far

“I went straight from the training school into work doing civils work and various other types including inspections, salvage & recovery, moorings, pier replacement and general boat work.  I’ve worked constantly since leaving; networking with people and getting to know the industry.  I’ve moved around a lot within Scotland, working on various projects from pier replacement in the Outer Hebrides to the new Aircraft Carrier at Rosyth Naval Base.  Sometimes it IS about who you know but it’s also about who YOU are and whether you are a suitable team mate.  You might be the best diver in the world, but if you don’t have the social skills to adapt to those around you, it gets noticed and like many industries, divers talk and the drums bang loud and far.”

How did you get your first commercial diving job?

“I live in Oban, on the West Coast of Scotland and there are a few local dive firms here, as well as larger marine service companies, but I picked the closest and sent an email with my CV attached.  I also went around to their office to introduce myself and to make sure that my CV had reached the correct destination.  Once there it was easy to put a face to a name and at least have a little conversation with guys who already work there, see if I knew anyone, or just ask about work currently on going and how these guys went about getting work.” 

Find out about the career advice provided for commercial diving students during training

“I sent my CV far and wide and searched the web for every inshore diving company I could.  I made sure my CV was up to date and relevant to the jobs that I applied for.  Even if there was no job available it is always handy in case a last minute call is required and if your CV fits, you’ll get the call.  You need to be diverse and the diving industry is very variant at the moment, so be prepared to do work OUT WITH diving – it’s not all about being under the water.  I spent 3 months as a first mate on a marine science research vessel when the diving work dried up, but the experience was so valuable; I have learned more about networking and meeting people and as a result have experience in piloting a boat alongside cetaceans and marine mammals, how to approach, navigate near them, identify them, and gather information via hydrophone to collate and pass on to various scientific outlets around the world.  I’ve met so many people that are all able to offer work as a result of that trip, and of course the opportunity was a very enjoyable experience that will stay with me and definitely open doors in the future.”

What advice do you have for students starting their first commercial diving work?

“Northwest Marine gave me a start; they had a lad on holiday, so there was a gap on the fish farm and moorings team.  They also had a lad doing his dive course, who is on their books rather than self-employed, so they were two men down and gave me the opportunity to slot in and see how it was all going to pan out.  It’s always difficult to slot in to an already established team, so you have to be mindful of how you approach that.  Ask questions and never be afraid to get involved; the team will need the extra pair of hands and they need to know that you are ready to step up and apply the skills learned, but also learn how they do things on the job.  Make sure you know who is who and where everything is and if you don’t know… ask a question.  In my experience the only stupid question is one that you don’t ask.  This company, like many, all started out as small companies and grew to become something bigger, so they know what it’s like and all show a little compassion for the new guy trying to get a foot on the ladder; if you are an asset and help them, they will reward you with work and a wage – the rest is up to you.”

Any final bits of career advice?

“I would simply say, keep at it and keep looking.  It’s not easy and you won’t fall in to work, you need to keep track of it but be persistent and follow up on everything.  In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

In next week’s blog post Mikey will be talking about the ways in which his own career background and his commercial diver training contributed to his success.

For more information about commercial diver training visit our website here, or contact our Student Advisors on +44 1397 703 786 or