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February 12, 2015

Subsea Industry Recognizes Commercial Diving Champion

Alf Leadbitter

Alf Leadbitter

‘Leading light’ Alf Leadbitter awarded Outstanding Contribution Award at Subsea UK Awards Dinner.

The achievements of one of the world’s most experienced commercial diver trainers have been recognised at a subsea awards ceremony.

Alf Leadbitter, Diver Training Authority at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, was presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Subsea Industry at the annual Subsea UK Awards in Aberdeen last night (Wednesday, February 11, 2015).

The award is in recognition of the impact made by an individual to the subsea sector over the course of their career.

Alf’s long and successful career - which spans 50 years not only as a commercial diver, but also as a dive supervisor, instructor and assessor - has seen him travel the globe sharing his expertise with commercial diving students. 

He has worked at the globally recognized diver training establishment, The Underwater Centre on the west coast of Scotland, for more than 30 years, where he has led diver training for the last 10 years.

Steve Ham, General Manager of The Underwater Centre, believes the commercial diving industry has a lot to thank Alf for following his tireless work ensuring training reaches the highest standards in health and safety and in subsea skills.

“Everyone at the Centre is absolutely delighted that Alf has received this industry recognition; it is very much deserved,” he said.

“Alf has made a significant contribution to commercial diving across the entire subsea industry and has been at the forefront of commercial diver training for almost 35 years. He has been central to the global development of Closed Bell training, the establishment of diver training and safety processes and has championed the cause of training divers to work underwater, rather than simply teaching them to dive.”

Alf - who was instrumental in setting up Closed Bell training courses at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, its sister training facility in Tasmania and the National Institute of Professional Diving in Marseille, France - is one of just two people in the world qualified as an ADAS Training and Assessment Manager (ATAM) for the ADAS Part 4 Closed Bell Course, the other being one of his colleagues at The Underwater Centre.

His other professional qualifications include HSE Closed Bell, Offshore Closed Bell Supervisor and Life Support Technician Certificates, along with assessor and internal verifier’s qualifications and a 1st Class Honours Degree in Science achieved from the Open University.

Alf said: “I feel absolutely honoured and privileged to have won this award; to be acknowledged in such a way for doing a job that I enjoy so much is very special indeed.

“Since leaving school, I have worked in engineering and diving in all capacities from shop floor or seabed to trainer to management. My career started as an apprentice fitter and since then I have worked as an engineer, foreman, diver, diving supervisor and client representative. Since 1988 I have been involved in diver training as an instructor, supervisor and manager.

“I have worked at the Centre for more than 30 years, during which time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the staff and the different students who come from around the world.” 
Alf started his working life as an apprentice fitter in the coalmines, and then went on to become a maintenance fitter in a steelworks.  His career in commercial diving began in 1975, and since becoming involved in commercial diver training, he has worked for 30 plus years to ensure that diver training is safe, while teaching students the requisite skills to begin a subsea career.

Alf is also a recognized key sounding board when it comes to diver training and safety with the HSE and its Australian equivalent, the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS).

During this time, Alf has been a senior authority on commercial diver training and is a key contributor to commercial diving and training bodies, such as IMCA’s SMTT committee, and was instrumental in creating ADAS’ Closed Bell standards.

He said: “I’ve been lucky to have a career that has required me to travel the globe, both as a diver and a trainer. The main changes which I have seen in my time in the industry come with health and safety; everything is now about safety and the competency levels of the divers, whereas when I started you were judged on the number of hours you’d spent underwater.”

Steve said: “Alf has been a real leading light in the training of commercial divers around the world, and has initiated numerous programs which have improved the systems, curricula and the methodology that are used in diver training today.

“The efforts made by Alf to improve the provision of commercial diver training have made a huge impact upon the wider industry, especially at a time of significant growth for the industry and an increasing demand for commercial air and Closed Bell divers.”

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.


Steve HamFort WilliamScotland
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