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A Day in the Life of a Commercial Diver

“It blew my mind when I went on my first actual job. I went on a barge before I went on a boat. Everything was bigger than normal. Everything was enormous. The chains, the shackles, the anchors -- everything was way bigger than I expected. It was amazing, I was in awe about it.”
-- Brandon Mounts, CDA Technical Institute graduate with nine years experience in the field

CDA Technical Institute prepared Brandon Mounts for much of what he encountered after he graduated in 2006. He knew how to get a job, he knew how to handle himself out in the field, and he knew how to perform daily tasks with little to no visibility.

What he didn’t know was just how much bigger everything would be.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever played video games, but you know in Mario when you get to Level 4 and everything is bigger? The enemies, the blocks, the clouds? That’s how my first job was,” Mounts said as he talked about his first job.

Mounts graduated shortly before Christmas 2006 and started calling for work when the new year came. He started work on January 7th.

“When you get there and you’re new, everybody was really cool about it and they take you in. But as a tender, you’re responsible for darn near everything -- all the maintenance, loading everything on the boat, testing the equipment, you’ve got to inventory everything, checking on your rigging, getting the hardware ready, and testing tools. You’re doing everything and there’s not a lot of rest time.”

Offshore oil rigs operate around the clock so there’s always something going on. On a typical job, there are typically two crews consisting of divers and tenders. The two crews switch between 12-hour shifts to make sure there’s always a team operational.

The lead tenders take charge and instruct the other tenders what they’ll be doing over the next two or three weeks. You’ll find your bunk, receive your assignments, attend safety briefings, and then it’s time to get to work.

One team goes to rest, the other gets to work. Divers will suit up and gather all the equipment they’ll need to do whatever the job calls for. You could be repairing a rig, constructing pipeline, or any other task. Every diver is paired with a tender who is acting as their support -- making sure everything is going smoothly and at the ready in case they need to assist in any way. You’re in the water for anywhere between two and four hours and then you have another two to four hours of decompression -- all depending on your dive time, dive depth, and more.

But more so than the danger, the hazards, or the complexities of the job, it was the camaraderie that stood out the most.

“What I remember a lot from those jobs isn’t necessarily what I was doing, but the other guys I worked with,” Mounts said. “Those jobs are hard, it’s manual labor, but the meal times and the rec times were a lot of fun with those other guys.”

And as far as how long you’re out on the boat, that changes with every job, every project, and every company.

“It depends on the length of the contract. Some jobs can take 12 hours and you’re finished. Some jobs take months to finish. They like you to stay out there at least two or three weeks and then you can come in, but I’ve stayed eight weeks offshore before. There’s never really been any set schedule. It’s just how long the job lasts and how long you’re willing to stay out there.”

When the job is over, you get to go home to dry land and loved ones. But how hard is it to find another job once you’ve completed your first?

“I came off the boat, went home, and after being gone for about a week I called the office and said ‘Hey guys, I’m ready to come back to work.’ They called me back about an hour later and said they had a job for me going out Wednesday and to be here. I was gone three or four weeks, came in for a week or two, went back out for another three or four weeks, came in for a week -- and that’s how it was the first several years I was out there.”

posted 11/17/2017 in Careers, Commercial Diving, Helpful Tips, The Lighter Side, Underwater Welding

Tags: commercial diving, underwater welding


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