I didn’t have any experience in the diving industry. I decided to go to Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) to get the experience and certifications. As far as the construction industry goes, I have one full year of welding, and one year of electrical experience.
I consider myself both a risk-taker and an explorer.
But I assess every situation, and I only take risks as long I’m not putting others or myself in physical danger. Safety first.
I know someone who is a commercial diver. It was good talking to him about his experience in the field, but this has been a dream for me. I’m very fortunate to have the ability to do this.
I’m sure the money is nice, but it isn’t always about the money. To me it’s about doing something you’ve always had a passion for and enjoy doing.
Training at Divers Institute of Technology
When I read up on DIT, I felt like it was a good school for me, so I checked it out. What really attracted me was the underwater welding aspect.
From the Beginning: Physics & Medicine
After starting my training, several courses in Module 1 caught my attention:
- Physics: This included class work focused on theory and laws surrounding diving variables. We practiced formulating dive tables, high and low pressures and diving methods.
- Medicine: Study of physical effects in sicknesses and injuries of divers. Focus on symptoms and treatments available.
- Chamber & CPR: We applied physics and techniques learned in the course. It was two days inside hyperbaric chambers.
Practice inside the decompression chamber helped me understand the importance of understanding its functions and purpose. Operating it and working inside helps you know what is expected so that you decompress others in a safe manner.
Bradley Peterson was a great instructor.
Peterson taught Physics, Medicine, and Decompression. The guy really knows his stuff and is on top of things. I also trust what he has to say about being a commercial diver.
Learning the Ropes: Salvage & Hydraulics
Overall, I think Salvage & Hydraulics was my favorite module.
The training I learned in the physics course was a building block to salvage work: I applied my physics calculations multiple times throughout the salvage project.
Bringing up a sunken vessel and recovering it is some of the best diving practice I’ve experienced at DIT. This type of training should definitely be required before actually entering the industry.
Our work simulates a realistic salvage project I might do as a commercial diver. It gets you familiar with working with pontoons and rigging. There’s many steps to the salvage project:
- Underwater survey of the vessel
- Patches and dimensions of the pontoons
- Calculating numbers and capability to ensure your lift bags can lift the sunken vessel
Our DIT Salvage Project
I had a total of six people on my team. We worked at a max depth of 40 feet.
Dive 1: In order to bring this vessel up, our first dive was two people. We went down to survey and take dimensions of the boat. The reason for this dive is so you know how many patches will need to be built and where they will be placed.
Dive 2: This consisted of two more divers. They went down and put all of the patches into place. After the divers arrived topside, it was time for the next phase.
Dive 3: Another two divers went to the vessel to finish all of the rigging from there on out. There’s many pieces of equipment that come into play during the rigging portion including pontoons, belly chains, pelican hooks and lift bags. Once everything is installed, the final lifting of the boat starts when divers are out of the water.
Before this project started, I often wondered exactly how salvaging worked. Now that I’ve done it myself, I’d have no problem doing it again.
NDT Module: Challenges & Rewards
NDT was the most difficult module to learn due to its complexity. I struggled with it, along with the majority of my class.
It was difficult sitting behind a desk; I’m the type of person that would rather be out in the water doing hands-on work. But not all portions of dive training are like that. I definitely learned plenty, as did my classmates.
Maximum Depth: Plunging into Deep Dives
Deep dives is where everything that I have learned from the past seven months all took play.
At 160 feet down, I experienced compression going down and decompression on the way up.
I also experienced nitrogen narcosis. That is where you feel like you are a little drunk and your voice is high pitched. You can’t whistle while in the chamber. You have to remember to keep your arms and legs straight and breathe normally, otherwise you increase the chance of the bends.
I applied my skills from earlier modules like hyperbaric medicine when running the chamber. My instructors, Doug Irish and Michael Kleinfelder, helped me through this process.
They also showed me how important it is to know the signs and symptoms of Oxygen Toxicity while in the decompression chamber. VENTID-C stands for Vision (blurriness), Ears (ringing sound), Nausea, Twitching, Irritability, Dizziness, and Convulsions, and divers can experience any of these signs while decompressing.
During the decompression period, oxygen levels must be below 25% to keep the ambient atmosphere from becoming hazardous.
Learning as a Team
My fellow classmates helped me with my overall experience at DIT.
There are a few that have worked jobs related to underwater construction. They gave me a few pieces of advice based off of their previous experiences to help me find out how exactly how I want to go about my career as a commercial diver.
Any questions I had about diving I made sure to speak with multiple instructors to hear their input on it.
Finding A Career
Searching for jobs is ultimately your responsibility. But DIT helps a lot on the front end for career searching.
Instructors and staff help you out a lot with your resume. They have been in the industry and some own businesses, which gives them the employer perspective.
They help you highlight your skills from previous companies, including specific jobs or projects.
Making the Call
Nick, the Director of Placement, meets with you and asks you some questions about your preferred location. First you narrow it down to inland or offshore, then you determine what area you would like to work within that range.
DIT calls up contacts within those areas, depending on what companies are hiring.
My Diving Expectations & Outcome
I had high expectations for DIT, and held them to what I had read in black and white.
DIT has met all of my expectations, and I recommend anyone wanting to persuade a career in commercial diving to check out Divers Institute of Technology.
The instructors tell it how it is, and they don’t sugarcoat anything. That’s how it should be: straight forward.
The maritime industry is a“sink or swim” place, and the more prepared you are with blunt instruction, the better off you’ll be.
Inland or Offshore: Putting in my Time
It would be really nice to be able to find something around the Seattle area if at all possible. But I will go to wherever the work is in my commercial diving career, such as Louisiana or Texas.
My plan for after graduation is to take a little time off and get a couple other certifications to help me stand out more in the industry, such as 6G pipe welding certification and a commercial drivers license.
I’d like to find diving that includes underwater welding and topside welding, as welding has always been my passion. Since I was younger, I’ve grown comfortable using an electrode on metal. and I’m not afraid to put in some hard labor.
If at all possible, I’d like to work 10 – 15 years in this line of work and then start looking to invest in a business.
Hunter Prock currently lives in Seattle and a graduate of Divers Institute of Technology, training to become a commercial diver.
Part of this story originated in Hunter’s Diver Exploits article on Water Welders.
Edited by Matt Smith, Creator of Water Welders.
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