John Paul Johnston, Executive Director / Industry Experience: 50+ years / Years at DIT: 20+ / USN/O-5
During his distinguished 30-year U.S. Navy career as a Saturation (SAT) diver, John Paul was a member of the Navy’s deepest diving team, reaching a record depth of 1800 feet at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit in Panama City, Florida. He participated in several major diving and salvage projects and commanded one of the Navy’s largest diving and salvage ships, the USS Edenton (ATS-1). While in command, the USS Edenton conducted the first efforts towards salvaging pieces of the Civil War Ironclad USS Monitor. Additionally, he completed several assignments involving research, development, testing and evaluation of new diving equipment and systems. John Paul’s educational experience includes teaching navigation, ship handling and composite warfare concepts at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He is a retired Navy commander with command at sea and ashore. He has served as director of Divers Institute of Technology since 2000.
Advice to Potential DIT Students and Alumni
“This is a job; you have to work at it. Pursue it as a career. If you do that, this career will allow you to do anything you want, but you have to work at it.”
The school’s location near the Puget Sound creates training situations that are as close as possible to the actual environments professional divers will encounter.
Jim Bernacki, Director of Operations; DIT Instructor—Welding, Burning / Industry Experience: 30+ years / DIT Instructor: 11+ years / PO2/E-5/USN/USNR
Jim is from Chicago, Illinois and has a career background in welding and ironwork. He is a 1993 graduate of DIT, whose diving career is focused in the marine construction industry, where he has worked in Hawaii and throughout the state of Washington. Jim’s training at DIT gave him full awareness of what to expect in a diving career, in which he’s also practiced skills such as decision making, problem solving and being able to handle any situation in the worst conditions.
Among Jim’s favorite dive projects were installing a fish spawning habitat at the Bill and Melinda Gates estate on Lake Washington and inspecting of the hull of a ship in Honolulu Harbor for contraband before it was allowed to enter the harbor. The best part of being a commercial diver for Jim is the personal satisfaction of doing work that most people know nothing about. The worst thing is the risk that dive jobs involve. Jim stays current with industry and its advances, knowing that the industry will always be evolving with technology and that there will always be work wherever there is water.