Leading subsea training and trials facility, The Underwater Centre, Fort William, picked up a top award at the prestigious 2017 Subsea UK Awards ceremony in Aberdeen on February 2, 2017.
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 annual awards ceremony seeks to recognize companies and individuals who are leading the way in Britain’s £9billion subsea sector. The Centre was up against stiff competition for the coveted accolade, which recognizes an innovation that has significantly contributed to improving safety within the subsea sector.
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. The development of Nitrox training is part of our strategy of continuously improving our commercial diving courses to meet industry needs. All divers taking our air diving course packages receive this important additional course.”
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.”
The Underwater Centre is a purpose-built subsea training and testing facility which incorporates an extensive pier complex including four dive stations, classrooms, workshops and decompression chambers. With access to sea depths to 100m, the Centre’s Fort William facilities also include a range of vessels providing air and saturation diver training and an ROV fleet including a work-class ROV.
The Underwater Centre is set up to provide its students with the skills and experience to succeed in their new careers, and provide the subsea industry with the workforce that it needs.