The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
The Italian Air Force search and rescue team has been expanding its skills and knowledge during a visit to The Underwater Centre in Fort William, UK.
Beniamino Panduccio, David Padula and Massimiliano Lai – members of the Sardinian-based search and rescue team – spent three days at the Centre undergoing advanced, intensive and challenging ROV operations training, during which they worked primarily with the Centre’s Saab Seaeye, UK, Falcon observation-class ROV.
During their stay, the Italian team also learned about mapping, measuring and navigation using sonar in preparation for operating in difficult conditions including zero light and visibility, as well as practicing search and recovery.
The candidates spent the first day flying the ROV from the pier with the A-frame LARS and cage allowing them to get used to the operation and work regime for the observation-class system. They also flew the Falcon in Loch Linnhe, the tidal seawater loch on which the Centre is located, from the Centre’s dive vessel, Loch Sunart, from which they spent time diving to the seabed, some 150 feet (46 metres) below in pitch-black conditions.
A challenging simulated rescue was undertaken on the loch using the ROV hook, a specialist piece of equipment designed to assist ROV operators, latching and un-latching equipment safely for deployment and recovery. A dummy cargo was lowered to the seabed using the hook allowing the team to practice hooking and unhooking the weight to simulate a recovery.
The Centre’s ROV training manager, Paul Bury, said that the team had been attracted to the Centre due to the realistic working conditions it has to offer. “The three days were quite a challenge as they were doing things they had never done before, which was the main point of them being here,” he said.
“Also, the conditions were at times very difficult but they got through it all well and the underwater conditions didn’t disappoint – they were black, deep and there was zero visibility, which is exactly what they wanted and needed to be able to train properly in real-life conditions,” he added.
Search and rescue team member Massimiliano Lai said: “We have learned a lot in a short time, in particular from our instructor Paul, and we are very satisfied with the level of care and safety that out team was shown.”
Singapore-based KB Associates (KBA) reports that four groups with a total of 43 experienced divers from Shanghai Salvage Company (SSC), China, have successfully completed their IMCA Surface Supplied Diver Assessment. The assessment was conducted from Shanghai Salvage’s new DP2 diving support vessel, the Shen Qian Hao, while in the offshore Shanghai area.
The assessments were conducted over a 24-day programme and carried out in accordance with the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) document Competence Assessment of Experienced Surface Supplied Divers.
KBA is the only company approved by IMCA outside of the UK to conduct the experienced diver assessment programme. The company provided two assessment teams, each comprising two assessors, one IMCA diving supervisor and one IMCA diver medic, to the three groups of 12 divers and one group of seven divers.
The assessment requires every diver to complete a theory review followed by an exam and a range of practical assessments while using an IMCA compliant surface supplied air diving system and support equipment. The practical tasks included the use of airlifts, inspection and photography, a range of underwater tools, emergency diver recovery drills, diver rescue drills, 40-metre deep dives and DDC drills as required by the assessment criteria.
SSC had mobilised one wet bell system onto the DSV in support of the built-in wet bell system on board. This allowed for two groups to be assessed at a time.
Michael Whelan, KBA lead assessor, said: “Having such a large group of divers on board the vessel was an interesting concept for managing and arranging daily assessment tasks. However, after a short period of time we established a good routine and the Chinese divers worked hard and proved to be very competent divers.”
The National Hyperbaric Centre (NHC), based in Aberdeen, UK, reports it was recently approached by the major diving contractors in Indonesia to conduct a Trainee IMCA Air Diving Supervisor course in Jakarta, Indonesia. This programme is run in accordance with IMCA D005 and IMCA D013.
“NHC courses are regularly conducted at NHC training centres in Aberdeen and Singapore but on this occasion it was more convenient to deliver a quality and intensive learning experience at a location in Indonesia,” said a spokesman for the Centre. “The course welcomed local air divers employed by the major diving contractors who hoped the course would provide staff with the skills and knowledge to pursue more senior roles within the companies.”
The training was delivered by dive supervisor Glenn Johnston, whose experience ensured the students received accurate and relevant knowledge and advice, the spokesman added. “An interpreter was used to translate the course into Bahasa for local students to make certain detailed topics could be fully understood,” he said.
The Centre has also announced the appointment of Jim Creighton as operations manager at its facility in Aberdeen.
Creighton has more than 25 years of experience within the diving industry, most recently as UK Business Unit diving manager at Technip.
“Jim will be overseeing operations across all departments, further enhancing and ensuring the successful delivery of NHC products and services,” the spokesman said.
The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has published revisions of two important diving publications – Diving Equipment Systems Inspection Guidance Note (DESIGN) for Mobile/Portable Surface Supplied Systems (IMCA D 040 Rev 1) and Mobile/Portable/Daughtercraft Surface Supplied Systems (IMCA D 015 Rev 1).
Both documents can be downloaded free of charge from the IMCA website, with printed copies available for purchase from the association.