The world’s first training course in work class ROV operations delivered by an independent training provider has been launched by The Underwater Centre in Fort William.
The first intake of students has started on the new five-week course - An Introduction to Work Class ROV Operations - which will change the way industry recruits and trains its staff.
The residential course is taking place at the Centre, which is based on the shores of Loch Linnhe, a tidal sea lake, on Scotland’s west coast. Further courses have been scheduled for the rest of the year to cope with the huge demand for ROV operators forecast by the industry.
The training will come under the umbrella of the new ROV Industry Training Academy, which is being established and will be led by a steering group made up of key industry personnel who will ensure the training closely reflects the needs of the industry. This will include basic training introducing technical personnel to the industry and, in due course, more advanced training designed to accelerate ROV personnel through their careers. It will be delivered in a contextual training environment, ensuring it is as realistic as possible to the conditions that are found offshore.
The Centre has also created two workshops - a Mechanical Workshop, which houses two of the work class ROVs, the TXL27 and 32 - and an Electrical Workshop where other parts of the practical training take place, including fibre optics and electrical and electronic systems.
Significant industry support, including the provision of hardware for the training, has been provided by companies such as Fugro, Technip, Lawsons Engineering, Forum, Kongsberg, FMC Schilling Robotics, and Digital Edge.
A recent report by Douglas-Westwood on the Market for Work Class ROV Operations from 2008-2017 showed that ROV expenditure was expected to more than double by the end of the period. IMCA has also highlighted that, due to the projected growth in the market for ROV operations, there would be a shortfall of approximately 2,000 ROV personnel through 2012-2017.
According to Steve Ham, General Manager of The Underwater Centre, in reality, that figure could be far higher.
“There is a concern that if not enough personnel are being trained now, then how will future needs be met?” he said.
“We have been working closely with industry to establish the needs and determine the level of training required. Industry has contributed significant help in terms of development of the course syllabus, as well as with the equipment required.
“Usually these specific aspects of training are undertaken by companies spending time and money sending their staff on different training courses, such as high voltage or working at height training.
“Given that the majority of ROV personnel will go on to work with work class ROVs when they enter industry, the students will benefit greatly from having hands-on experience with these systems. We have been working hard in recent months to provide students with the opportunity to train with a work class ROV system, and it was a landmark moment for the Centre when it became operational."
The Underwater Centre is a purpose-built subsea training and trials facility and is based on the shore of a seawater loch, well sheltered by the surrounding mountains. The Centre’s unique location allows it to provide year-round training and testing in an open-water environment, while still being centrally located in the largest town in the Scottish Highlands.
With access to depths of over 100 metres, it is the ideal location to perform realistic and industry-specific saturation and air diver and ROV pilot technician training, as well as providing a convenient location for subsea equipment trials.
The Underwater Centre, which also has a school in Tasmania, comprises an extensive pier complex including four dive stations, classrooms, workshops and decompression chambers. With accommodation and additional classrooms based at the landward end of the pier, it is set up to provide its students with the skills and experience to succeed in their new careers, and continue providing the subsea industry with the workforce that it needs.