Commercial diver training and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) courses at The Underwater Centre (TUC) in Fort William offers students much more than the certificates that permit them to work commercially. It offer a unique learning environment unlike anything experienced anywhere else.
As well as the range of courses for prospective divers and ROV pilot/technicians, the Centre runs closed bell training, sea trials and technology trials, in addition to playing host to numerous different groups from the Ministry of Defence. This means that, at any point during their training, students can expect to be sharing the water with experts from different disciplines and getting a close up perspective of some of the most cutting edge subsea technology.
This brings several massive benefits to students; just by sharing the same environment as these seasoned professionals, students have the opportunity to gain a greater insight into the industry, as well as the opportunity to build contacts - it's not unusual for students to pick up the lead that brings them their first job in the lounge. This does mean that the pier, jutting some 200m out into Loch Linnhe, can be busy - often there are three or four different groups in or around the water at any given time.
The chance to operate in waters where there are other activities taking place means that students leave having already experienced the kind of bustling activity typical of shared water operations that are not uncommon with modern offshore working.
As part of ongoing work with trials partners, The Underwater Centre is often asked to provide support functions such as diving and ROV teams. This has meant that, for some students, their first job as a commercial diver or ROV pilot/ technician was working for The Underwater Centre as part of a trials team.