Unique underwater course proves popular

A BEAUTY Point-based training facility is set to offer specialist remote operated vehicle pilot training to target the forecast expansion of the global oil and gas industry in the next four years.

The Underwater Centre Tasmania, which is owned by the UK-based Crannog Group, is the only facility in Australia to offer all four levels of the Australian Diving Scheme Accreditation certification for scuba up to closed bell, which is beyond a depth of 50 metres.

It will be the first facility in Tasmania to offer commercial ROV pilot training.

The success of the course at its sister facility at Fort William in Scotland led to a trial run at Beauty Point in November and the first of the three-week ROV pilot technician courses will start next month.

The centre's operations manager Andrew Mitton said there were a high number of companies around the world which couldn't find enough ROV pilots, so it demonstrated a real need for individuals interested in such work and training.

He said the course was significant for the fact that both ROV pilot and diving trainees would be training at the same time, so it would also provide experience in working together, similar to a work site.

Mr Mitton said the centre's location on the Tamar River provided a good training ground, particularly in sensory deprivation with low visibility, while its site at Lake Cethana in the North- West offered trainees some idea of depth and temperature acclimatisation.

The November trial saw participants from the French naval defence company DCNS learn on a new Seaeye Falcon ROV flown in from Fort William.

The training covered ROV launch and recovery, pre and post-dive checks, hazards, hull, pipeline and shipwreck surveys and how to reassemble the machine.

According to the company, ROV pilots in the southern hemisphere can earn anything from $920 a day as a trainee, up to $1840 as a supervisor.

More courses have been scheduled to run in May, June and October.

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