For anyone who has ever visited Seattle, home of Divers Institute of Technology (DIT), it’s not hard to understand why it’s such a great spot for commercial diving training. Not only is Seattle located on the nutrient-rich Pacific Ocean, but the entire area of the city is comprised of 41% water.
The Perfect Training Environment
Pacific Ocean tides. Vast lakes. Roaring rivers. Abundant irrigation.
The waters in Seattle are ideal for commercial diving training. Throughout the year, water conditions in the diving spots around Seattle can vary dramatically, sometimes resulting in different underwater habitats in just a single day.
Underwater Visibility: More than A Simulation
Typically, most training for commercial diving takes place in water depths of between 12 – 165 feet deep.
Visibility can vary dramatically with the variable conditions that the different dive spots that schools use. Visibility in Union Lake, for example, is usually quite good, varying between 5 – 20 feet.
“This is essential environment training for any commercial diver as they can find themselves working in any kind of underwater environment.”
Given the strength of the Pacific Ocean current and the volume of inland river and rainwater that makes its way into the ocean every day, visibility in the Puget Sound is much more difficult, varying anywhere between just a few feet and 10 feet.
Lightweight & Rigging Course: A Safe Way to Take The Hardest Step
These locations make DIT’s Lightweight program ideal for commercial diving training. Since commercial diver trainees will need to focus on getting used to their equipment, DIT uses the lake location that offers the best visibility and weakest currents.
Matt Jones, DIT instructor for Light Weight and Rigging, points out that on your first dive, “your entire world becomes about 1.6 cubic feet.”
As the four-week Lightweight program progresses, trainee divers will get the chance to safely experience increasingly varied underwater conditions.
This is essential environment training for any commercial diver as they can find themselves working in any kind of underwater environment.
One example of a commercial diving task that is affected by the underwater conditions is welding. Welds have to be done to a high standard, something which is hard enough in itself.
However, when welding in strong currents and poor visibility, divers being properly trained is all-important.
DIT use the varying conditions of these dive sites to train divers how to weld underwater in all conditions. Training takes place in Lake Union, where trainees will quickly learn how difficult underwater welding really is.
Unlike welding above the water, underwater welding relies upon “feel” more than sight.
A Range of Temperature to Build Tolerance to Diving Environments
Despite the fairly strong California current, ocean temperatures around Seattle remain fairly consistent, only varying from 46°F – 56°F all year-round. Temperatures in the lakes and sound are also similar.
While these temperatures might prove a little chilly at times, they offer the ideal training environment for commercial divers who plan to work in a variety of maritime habitats around the world. With work conditions in everywhere from Northern Europe to South America being quite varied, it’s important to adapt to all kinds of environments.
Scuba versus Deep Dives: Get Ready For a Surprise
One of the main differences divers will notice after taking the plunge into commercial diving is the difference in temperature. SCUBA diving typically takes place in much warmer water (with the exception of the few who dive in places like Antarctica).
Deeper dives will mean long periods of exposure to cold. Fortunately, DIT utilizes the varied environmental conditions offered by the locations around Seattle to familiarize divers with all types of temperature conditions.
By the time DIT divers are qualified commercial divers, they will be used to working not just in the dark, but in the cold, too.
Top Diving Locations that Seattle Offers
There are three key places that most of the top commercial diving schools use to train their students.
- Lake Union is an excellent training site thanks to its location, clearer waters, and lack of strong currents.
- Lake Washington offers a relatively stable environment in terms of water temperatures, currents, and visibility.
- Puget Sound allows the schools to expose divers to more challenging conditions in terms of currents and visibility.
Very few other places in the world can boast of such diverse underwater environments, and all within such a short distance, something which has led to DIT in Seattle becoming one of the top centers for commercial diving in the country.
The opportunity to train in such variable conditions gives commercial divers the chance to build their confidence by familiarizing themselves with as many possible working conditions as possible.
Real-world Training is Everything (and DIT has that)
No matter what environment you’re in, learning to be a commercial diver can be a lot less daunting when you have the right training environment.
With the chance to expose trainee divers to so many different underwater experiences, Seattle really is the perfect place to prepare for a career in commercial diving. It is for this reason that students come from all across the country to do their training here.
If you are interested in becoming a commercial diver, schedule a tour with DIT today.
Written by Aran Davies, Assistant Writer at Water Welders
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