Divers Institute of Technology
Opening the Door to a Commercial Diving Career
in the 21st Century
by E.R. Cross
Commercial divers of the 21st century will find themselves in a world of underwater science fiction. The giant strides made in the development and improvement of diver support equipment in the past century will become even more technical. Deeper, longer dives will be possible. More complex offshore work will be required. New and better materials, tools and equipment will be used to improve the infrastructure of all inland installations. The complexities of diving medicine and diver physiology will become better understood. New approaches to successfully accomplishing the more sophisticated job assignments will test diver knowledge and skills. Divers who can cope with these changes may drastically increase their earnings.
Commercial diving is an activity that requires study and detailed knowledge of methods of accomplishing specific tasks. In this respect commercial diving is a science. The mechanics of diving involve the development, production, operation and use of tools, machines and sometimes structures. The science and mechanics of underwater work are rapidly changing to meet the complex needs of the developing marine industries of the 21st century. The Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) in Seattle, Washington, is at the forefront of this wave of the future. It now provides the ultimate in diver training programs.
The skilled underwater workers of the future will have reached their potentially high paying jobs exclusively through qualifications and skills gained at an ACDE (Association of Commercial Diving Educators) approved professional diving training establishment. Member companies of the Association of Diving Contractors (ADC) will not employ divers who do not meet specific entry level qualifications. ADC states, [Entry level training] may be taken at an ACDE accredited school, military school or the equivalent. Entry level training for commercial diving cannot be obtained from short courses. A mini-course in commercial diving is an introduction to disaster and accident liability. DIT is an eminently successful leader in the development of training standards for ACDE members. The instructors are masters of diver training. Their contributions and commitment to education and diving safety have helped lead the industry into the 21st century.
In the future there will undoubtedly be a limited but significant return to the use of hardhat diving equipment. Since helmet equipment is less expensive to maintain and repair, there will be less downtime. Soft helmets and bandmasks will be reconfigured with fewer parts and will be more user friendly. Ultimately, they will be easier and less costly to maintain and repair. Saturation diving will be refined and made safer and more practical for commercial work in depths ranging from 200 to 600 feet. There will certainly be major design developments in one atmosphere dive suits, such as the Newt Suit, to enable more extensive use of that equipment at depths beyond 200 feet. Owing to the required lengths of operational and life support umbilicals, neither saturation systems nor one atmosphere rigs will be used to any depth greater than 1,500 feet and the limit will probably be 2,000 feet. Also, it appears there will be more manned submersibles in use for depths from perhaps 600 feet to the deepest parts of the oceans. Sophisticated, remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and autonomous operated vehicles (AOV), mostly run by qualified divers, will be able to go deeper and stay longer than any human operated diving systems.
To be significantly beneficial to students the diving school of choice must provide information on both the specialties of diving knowledge and diving job skills. The training must be in a typical commercial diving setting and under realistic working conditions. These are essential requirements of any dive training program if it is to be helpful throughout the working years of the graduates.
Because of its ideal location and extensive, unsurpassed training facilities, graduates will always gain from their association with the Divers Institute of Technology. The administrative staff, financial assistance programs and well qualified instructors will make it happen for you.
DIT is at the foot of 11th Avenue NW in Seattles Salmon Bay; an open water connection between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. The water temperature ranges from 48°F in winter to 54 in summer. Underwater visibility may sometimes be zero or as much as six feet but with an average of three to four feet. Seattle weather comes in four seasons; none is extreme. In the past ten years only one day of training had to be aborted because of weather. Willy Wilson, director of placement for DIT, stated, Seattle weather represents environmental conditions similar to those in which graduates will work in future years.
John Ritter, president and director of DIT, told me, An important factor in our location is that it is in a maritime area of Seattle. It offers students an insight into many marine oriented activities. He confirmed what I felt about the location and orientation of the school. Employers know all our graduates are trained under realistic conditions in a typical commercial diving setting.
Owing to pollution of most maritime environments, some of it extensive, it is not unusual for dive teams to be exposed to potentially health threatening hazardous materials of some kind. Diving equipment must completely protect the diver from the hazardous environment and material. Also required are special handling, storage and disposal of the material. As pollution increases so does diving in a hazardous material (Hazmat) mode. For crew safety, special qualifications for this type of diving must be met. Current OSHA regulations stipulate divers must have a minimum of 40 hours of Hazmat training to qualify to work a Hazmat site. DIT has an approved two week course titled Contaminated Diving Procedures that complies with OSHA regulations. It involves a minimum of 40 hours of training in Hazardous Water Operations and Emergency Response.
By the end of the two week course DIT students will know the level of protection required to work in various site categories, including radioactive areas. Practical training will include equipping, diving and tending a dive station and the decontamination and control of a Hazmat site. Decontamination of divers and their equipment is an essential part of this training. Certificates of qualification are issued to DIT graduates.
That such training is needed is evident from a letter received from recent DIT graduate Anthony Guerrero. Tony started work on March 15, 1996. He wrote, I got into nuke plants when they [the Rust Company for which he works] sent me to do some stainless steel welding on the drain channels of a reactor. I am flying to Japan in September on two different nuke weld jobs that will last about six weeks. It should be noted that, on a worldwide basis, the number of nuclear energy plants is continuing to increase.
Inland diving relates to underwater work on the infrastructure of all types of installations in lakes, rivers, harbors and inland waterways. This includes inspection, maintenance and repairs of piers, waterways, pipelines and tunnels. Most dams and bridge structures are inspected and repaired as needed on an annual basis. Jeff Standley, a late 1994 DIT graduate, wrote, I worked with Mike Reynolds (another 1994 DIT grad) on a two month bridge inspection contract covering North and South Carolina and Tennessee. Mike also reported he had an interesting job installing an underwater powered cathodic protection system around vessels moored at Patriot Point Naval Museum. DIT graduate Kevin Strong told Willy Wilson, I love working inland diving jobs. Each job is completely different. ROV equipment and AOVs have been used in some inspections of inland installations.
In recent years, divers in Sat systems and as operators of ROV devices have been used successfully in some deep water dam inspections. ROVs can also be equipped to perform some critical maintenance of bridges and piers. After nearly two years as a commercial diver, one DIT graduate wrote, There is no such thing as being overqualified for safety and job security in the dive industry. Working graduates have written DIT thanking its staff for the extensive training received in their courses.
DIT has 32,000 square feet of piers and land based access to its extensive inventory of seven dive platforms. The inventory includes floats, boats and barges, all rigged with dive gear and training projects. To develop dexterity with conventional hand tools and adapt them to underwater use, students use all types of dive gear on a multitude of projects beneath a 20 by 60 foot dive barge. Rigging to lift heavy loads, the assembly and installation of riser clamps, fitting and attaching flanges and piping are some of the other projects. On the deck of this barge other students learn to set up and operate hot water systems, hydraulic power tools and other power sources used by divers.
Still another important dive platform is the 20 by 40 foot floating classroom. Students are assigned to this station for instruction and hands on work with ROV systems. Underwater television and video recording and photography are also taught on this platform. DIT lead instructors take part in this important phase of advanced commercial diver training.
Commercial divers are expected to be capable of diving to depths of 170 to 200 feet on compressed air in conventional gear. DIT leads the industry in deep water dive training. Diving to 200 feet is conducted for each class from the new deep diving vessel Response. This boat is equipped with Super-Lite 28 dive systems. Also on board are air compressors, a double lock hyperbaric chamber and a Kinergetic hot water heating system for diver comfort, safety and training. Students practice deep dives while using compressed air. Also, they receive training in the use of surface supplied mixes of helium and oxygen. Students are additionally drilled in the proper handling of survival umbilicals and in proper decompression procedures. Practical experience in using modern communication systems is also a feature of this phase of training.
Recreational diving equipment is abundantly available. Commercial equipment is much harder to come by. To help overcome this problem for its students and graduates, DIT now has an on-site commercial diving equipment store, Pro-Dive Equipment and Supply.
Some of the hard to find products it stocks include Broco cutting and welding equipment and Dive Systems International equipment, such as Super-Lite helmet outfits and Kirby-Morgan rigs. Arcair cutting and welding equipment and material as well as Abyss drysuits and Desco hardhat equipment is available. Many small parts and fittings are also stocked. Pro-Dive will accept mail orders for equipment. This equipment source should be a great help to DIT students and graduates. For more information, write to 4315 11th Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107 or call (206) 784-5050; fax (206) 783-2658.
DIT IS THE WAY TO GO
Divers Institute of Technology is the nations oldest commercial diving school. For nearly 30 years DIT has been committed to training students in all phases of commercial diving. Its graduates will be prepared for gainful employment and advancement in the commercial diving industry. John Ritter and his staff of experts have watched as the requirement for underwater work has become ever more technical, requiring skilled, well trained diver technicians. DIT evolved with the industry and has been an important element in its evolution and growth. At DIT, facilities and training programs have expanded and are upgraded to meet changing conditions. It will continue to be a leader as the industry works its way into the 21st century.
For complete information about enrollment, classes and training programs, visit the Divers Institute of Technology at 4315 11th Avenue SW in Seattle, Washington, or write to P.O. Box 70667, Seattle, WA 98107-0667. The telephone number is (800) 634-8377; in Seattle call 783-5542.
When thinking about diving training it will be best to think to the future; think DIT. Then become involved in turning your life around with the help of divings oldest, biggest and best dive training establishment; Divers Institute of Technology. You will be glad you did.