Commercial Deep Sea Diver
Where do you work?
I currently work in the North Sea. I work in three different sectors: Norway, the Dutch sector and the UK sector. I have worked all over the world, depending where I am required for the Oil and Gas industry.
How would you describe your role?
My work involves the underwater maintenance of oil rigs and the supporting pipes, welds and structures. This may involve the connection of pipes from the seabed to the platform or general maintenance/repairs – whatever is required to keep the oil rig producing oil 24/7.
I am a Saturation Diver. This means that I have to live in a pressurised chamber on a boat for up to 28 days at a time. The pressure in the chamber reflects the pressure level at the depths I am working at. The chamber is decompressed to the surface pressure, once my period of working at depth has come to an end. This prevents the risk of me getting decompression sickness.
I get taken from the boat to the seabed in a Diving Bell. A Diving Bell is a rigid chamber used in open water to transport divers. It maintains a core internal pressure. Diving Bells are suspended by a cable and lifted and lowered by a winch from a surface support platform.
How long have you performed the role?
I have been diving for 19 years and have been a Saturation Diver for the last 10 years.
Why did you want to work for your current employer?
I work for a company called Subsea 7, they are probably one of the biggest and best diving companies in the world. They own loads of vessels all over the world and are a very safe company. I am self-employed but work nearly exclusively for Subsea 7.
What educational qualifications do people need to perform your role?
I am not certain what educational qualifications you need since when I started you didn’t need any qualifications, so I suggest that you contact the lead companies, like Subsea 7 or contact the Underwater Centre, in Fort William or the Commercial Diver Training Centre in Portsmouth.
What practical experience do people need to help them to obtain your role?
You need to be practically minded and good with your hands. You can’t be claustrophobic! People who are often attracted to this work have previously been plumbers, carpenters, electricians etc.
Are there any particular personal skills which people need to have to perform your role?
You need to be a good team player as you are in a small team of divers. There maybe between 3 and 5 divers in your team. You need to be prepared to work hard since every person in the team must play their part to complete the work. It is also helpful to be physically fit.
What do you enjoy about your work?
I like working hard and seeing the job I am working being completed. I also enjoy the people I meet and the places I see. I have seen so much variety whilst working around the world, from swimming with whales to working alongside sharks. Also, it is fascinating seeing the things on the seabed.
What can be challenging about your work?
Being away from home, when I am away for 4 weeks at a time, as I love being with my family.
Living in the Chamber can be a struggle as you have to stay in there with 6 other men for 28 days, 24/7.
Work can be hard as the teams are small, so there may not be additional assistance to help you if you need to move a heavy piece of machinery etc.
What is your fondest memory?
Working in Mexico about 8/9 years ago, we were putting some data cable into a shoreline in crystal clear blue water when we saw a female humpback whale and her calf swim past. We were lucky enough to stay with them for a couple of miles along the coast.
Coming home after every trip and seeing my family.
Do you have any personal advice for children/teenagers and young adults?
My job is not a “run of the mill” job and it is not something you would hear or learn about normally. I would say that if you do enjoy something or find something interesting, find out about it and then see what jobs you can do involving it.
It is also important to have the mindset to persevere and focus on what you want to achieve.
Everything is achievable if you put your mind to it.
Don’t be afraid to contact institutions or specialist centres, for your chosen interest, so they can tell you how you can get more involved in an area.