Kevin Lewis: DIT grads excelling in the Gulf
Written for D.I.T. by Londi Gamedze
“When I first got down to the Gulf, DIT grads were kind of a big deal because they were so competent,” says DIT grad Kevin Lewis from Seaside, Ore., class 10906.
Signing on and breaking out with Cal Dive, Kevin has seen so much of the world in just a few years of diving – he’s been to some amazing, remote spots of this blue-green planet that most people will never get to see. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Bahamas, Mexico and parts of Africa are all under Kevin’s belt. But it’s not just the travel that sets apart his career. We caught up with Kevin to chat about his current life out on the Gulf of Mexico and his experiences since graduating.
Tearing it up
Divers from all over the world go out to work the varied and lucrative jobs offered by the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The friendly air of competition at the work sites, however, often shows that Americans, and DIT grads, are the most prepared and competent among them.
You can imagine what it’s like: a big group of (mostly) young men working hard on the same projects. Many are new on the job so they’re more than ready to knuckle down, put their skills to practice and show the world what they’ve got. Kevin chuckles.
“When we first got down we were in competition with people from other dive schools – and we [DIT grads] tore it up… The guys who come out of dive schools in Scotland, Australia, France, or wherever, don’t catch quite as much as we do because their schools are shorter – 4 months instead of 7 months. … As a breakout hand overseas I was many steps ahead of them because I’d done a lot of stuff they hadn’t even seen yet.”
And Kevin has seen quite a range of offshore projects in his day: platform installs and removals, tie-ins (aka flange-ups, usually between platform and pipeline) jetting, inspections, setting explosives – and lots of cleaning – barnacle busting, grit blasting and water blasting. He credits his training through DIT and his years spent on deck with Cal Dive as the factors that put him ahead in an industry where you can expect to make $50 000-$60 000 working as a tender, and more when staying on a vessel. But it’s not a life for everyone. Kevin notes that the main reason people burn out is because they aren’t ready for the intensive lifestyle of a commercial diver.
Getting to know your tools
DIT students train in conditions similar to the Gulf – cold waters with low visibility, giving them that edge over divers who trained in tanks or milder waters. Kevin’s advice for people getting into commercial diving: “Get to know all the tools you work with and take advantage of the fact that you’re going to be tending for a while – if you can use [equipment] on deck, then when you get in the water and you can’t see what it looks like, you know how it works – and that makes a big difference.” His deepest dive to date is two hundred sixty four feet in the Gulf – conditions that offer almost no visibility. Kevin plans to shift his career towards international sat (saturation) diving, where divers live in pressurized environments for up to several weeks, allowing for more frequent diving work at great depth.
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