I met with RS Divers back in December who were a very impressive commercial diving company in Portsmouth. I wanted more of an insight into the life of a commercial diver and so talked to one of their staff members and Owner of the Hamble Ferry, Mike Lindsell.
So Mike, what is it that you like about being a commercial diver?
I don’t just like it, I love it. I enjoy the variety of work. Anything from inspections to searching for guns or installing underwater turbines. I enjoy the challenge of achieving things other people cannot do themselves. The thought process behind some of our work has to be quite outside the box. The need to think quickly and problem solve. All of these elements add up to a very exciting profession. I also love being underwater. The equipment we use is fantastic and very cool!
So how did you get involved with the guys at RS Divers?
I first met Ruben, the Owner and Director about 12 years ago. He was involved with an underwater hull scrubbing device for boats. At that time he didn’t have a vessel of his own so borrowed mine to help him dive. Over the years I’ve seen him grow RS Divers into a very credible commercial diving company and I admire that. Anyone who can grow a business from scratch has a talent and I enjoy being associated with it. The work RS do is hugely varied and it’s that variety which keeps me coming back. Not to mention working underwater which, is of course, a huge bonus because it’s one of my big passions.
Do you think the commercial diving business is good for divers to get into as a career path?
Unfortunately not at the moment. With the collapse of the North Sea, offshore diving industry early in 2015 the inshore sector saw a massive influx of commercial divers wanting work. At the moment the inshore industry appears to be saturated with skilled diver’s, which is a real shame because there are some really qualified people out there looking for dive work.
Does it ever feel like a high risk job or are you just completely at ease with it now?
Before any job is undertaken we carry out a thorough and dynamic risk assessment designed to identify all of the risks and hazards associated with that particular job. We minimise all risks as best as possible and if that can’t be done we don’t dive until measures are put in place to make it safe for the diver. So no. I don’t ever think it’s too risky. If it was then we wouldn’t get into the water. That being said, it’s not a job for the faint hearted. We often dive in low or zero visibility, under huge ships or installations. It can be pretty intimidating to people at first but its all part of the job and you get more and more comfortable with it as you go along.
Would you recommend it to recreational divers looking to switch over to work in a different part of the dive World? Is it a big crossover in terms of the type of diving?
I think that as a career change times are tough. There is work out there but you have to really look for it and be totally flexible and fluid in order to get it. However, as a career enhancement for recreational diver’s it couldn’t be better. Being able to “dip in and out” of the commercial industry is great! Working ad hoc is exactly what the industry needs. It can be a great income supplement and what an amazing thing to tell your friends!
The first qualification you will need to gain is HSE Scuba. This can only be sat at a handful of schools in the U.K. I am fortunate enough to run this course at a local dive center, so can offer a real working perspective to the training. If you are willing to put time into training then it can be a very rewarding move.
Mike, that’s awesome. It has been great talking to you. We at The Scuba News UK are really keen to cover news from across the whole diving industry and it’s really special to get such an honest and personal outlook on commercial diving. Thanks!