The Underwater Centre in Fort William hosted a visit by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing yesterday, 21 October.
Ewing, who is also MSP for Inverness and Nairn, was visiting the subsea training and trials facility to discuss development plans and see first-hand the Centre’s work-class ROVs and two new barges, in which it has invested to meet the demand for its commercial diving and ROV Pilot Technician training courses.
The new vessels, the renamed Loch Sunart and Loch Scavaig, have been purchased from Western Ferries (Clyde) Limited.
One of the barges will be fitted out with two of the Centre’s work-class ROVs (WROV) and supporting ROV launch and recovery systems (LARS) and used for work-class ROV training – providing realistic training for students to learn how to launch work-class ROVs from a moving vessel.
The Centre is embarking on developing its ROV training next year to provide students with the opportunity to train with work-class ROV systems, given that the majority will go on to work with these when they enter industry.
Students will benefit from having hands on experience with the three WROVs, which were loaned to the Centre by Fugro, one of the world’s largest ROV operators, to offer additional courses that can extend students’ training and development while at the Centre.
The Underwater Centre is working closely with industry to establish the needs and determine the level of training required.
The other vessel will be used for the development of diver training and subsea technology trials.
The investment in the new barges comes after the Centre has just announced an increase in the number of students through its doors, with even more projected by the end 2013.
Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, said: “What struck me is The Underwater Centre engagement in working closely with industry to invest in making young people their business and allowing them the opportunity to fulfil their potential with specifically designed training required to support the subsea industry.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting continued growth in Scotland’s energy sector and to allowing our young people to benefit from the tremendous opportunities that this sector presents now and in the future. That is why Scotland’s Oil and Gas Strategy, developed in conjunction with industry, lays out a plan to help the industry go from strength to strength, and rising capital investment – rising to over £13bn in 2013 – demonstrates the confidence investors and the industry have in Scotland.”
As General Manager Steve Ham explains, the Centre is aiming to up its capabilities to cope with the demand of the very buoyant energy sector and is also develop its courses to meet the requirements of industry.
“We are pleased to have hosted a visit by Mr Ewing and have the opportunity to show him the investment which is being made by the Centre and its partners in industry,” Steve said.
“This is a great example of The Underwater Centre and the rest of industry working together to deliver a clear need in the market place.
“We have put a considerable investment in these new barges because we realise the importance of giving our students the best, most up to date facilities which offer training in a contextual environment.”
The Underwater Centre is a purpose built training facility which incorporates 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, The Underwater Centre 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.
Press Release, October 22, 2013