Commercial Diving

AGA Full Face Mask

As some readers may recall, I’m currently completing training as a commercial diver with DiverSafe International in Campbell River BC. My decision to become a commercial diver was prompted by the facts that 1: people will pay me to dive (something I love doing), and 2: it’s something I love doing where people don’t try to blow me up with random rockets, mortars or assorted explosives. The course I’m on is divided in two parts, an Unrestricted Scuba course, and a Restricted Surface Supply course. I’m almost done now, and here’s a run down of how it all works and what it means to get into the commercial side of diving!

Pipe Puzzle

Commercial diving is an all-encompassing term for any non-recreational paid diving that you do. In British Columbia, it’s a heavily regulated industry with WCB and CSA standards and a laundry list of do’s, don’t and please-don’t-do-this-again’s. There are loop holes for recreational diving instructors and university staff and students conducting scientific dives; but past that, if you’re being paid, you need the training and certification to make it legal and safe. Everything from photography and videography to aquaculture and construction, commercial covers them all and more.

Adverse Weather

The first part of my course was the 40m Unrestricted Occupational Scuba Diver certification. This is something of a unique certification to British Columbia as the rest of Canada and the international scene limit their divers to 30m. This is where most of the light work occurs; where having a bottom time limited by the size of your cylinder isn’t a large issue. Scientific diving, photography, some hull inspections and maintenance, videography and a lot of aquaculture activities fall under this category of diving.

Net Mending

The second part is more what people think of when they think about commercial diving; diving helmets, umbilicals, and walking along the bottom. For me, the 40m Unrestricted course was an extension and expansion of my existing skills as a divemaster and scientific diver. 30m Inshore Surface Supply is a whole new and thoroughly enjoyable animal! The course is known as 30m Restricted or Inshore; because it’s the internationally recognized limit for working dives in inshore and inland conditions as far as I’m able to tell. The equipment is cool; the Desco Air Hat and Kirby Morgan SL17K are my favourite helmets and the work is phenomenal. Construction, inspections, rigging, working in enclosed environments and work under adverse conditions where scuba would be dangerous if not deadly are the areas covered by this kind of diving, in addition to the scuba activities!

It’s been weeks of training, we’ve measured things, written reports, conducted surveys, inspected hulls, done dozens of physics equations (Boyle, Charles, Dalton, Gay Lussac and Universal Gas Laws), worked in both imperial and metric measurements (metric is easier, more precise and a whole other blog entry), fought with our umbilicals, tangled in lines, searched with line signals and by voice communications, assembled different phalanges under different conditions, been blacked out with duct tape, silted out by other divers, swept along with currents and accumulated tons of photos, memories and experience. Over the last several months, I’ve become a better diver and my enthusiasm has only increased for this new occupation.

About the author

Graeme is a professional diver, qualified as a PADI and SDI Divemaster, DCBC 40m Unrestricted Commercial Scuba Diver, 30m Restricted Surface Supply diver, and CAUS Scientific Diver Lv.2. Graeme has an Associate Degree of Arts in Environmental Studies, where he focused on archaeology and physical geography, and an Advanced GIS certificate.