CDA Technical Institute's Commercial Diver Program


CDA Newsletter - Spring 2012


CDA & NASE Worldwide are saddened to announce the passing of David H. Weisman, Executive Director of CDA and Chief Operating Officer of NASE Worldwide.

Mr. Weisman lost his long-fought battle with a heart condition in January. He leaves behind his wife, Susanne, and two children, Theodore and Alison.

As Executive Director of CDA, Mr. Weisman was instrumental in building one of the largest commercial diving schools in the United States. He was also focused on developing NASE Worldwide as a premier recreational diver training agency.

“David was passionate about diving and had the vision of building an organization unlike no other,” said Capt. Ray Black, Mr. Weisman’s business partner and close friend. “We will all miss David’s vision, enthusiasm, and insight. He was and will remain a great inspiration for all of us.”

Harry Averill, Director of Training for NASE Worldwide said, "David was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He could put you at ease, while at the same time commanding incredible respect. Where others might just talk, David made things happen. He was a friend, and he will be missed."

New Employees & Bios:

Amanda Eason

Amanda Eason

Ms. Eason has an Associate’s Degree from Florida State College and has worked extensively in administration and management capacities. Most recently, she was the Program Coordinator for a National non-profit organization. Ms. Eason’s assists the executives with the daily operations of CDA. Ms. Eason also currently coordinates the assessments of DCBC candidates, and assists with compliance for the regulatory agencies.




Jason Mays

Jason Mays
Mr. Mays graduated from CDA in November of 2003 and began his commercial diving career offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of this career was spent working on pipelines, removing and installing them. He also spent a couple of years diving inland in Jacksonville and Knoxville, Tennessee. Many of the tasks involved were hot taps, flange-ups, riser clamps, underwater burning, and NDT inspections. Jason was also involved in performing repairs and other underwater construction during hurricanes Katrina and Gustavo. He worked his way up to an Air/Mixed Gas Supervisor in the beginning of 2009. He recently left his offshore company to join CDA as an instructor.



Sid Preskitt
Mr. Preskitt started his commercial diving career in 1973 with Oceaneering in Southeast Asia. He continued his career with Taylor Diving & Salvage in the Gulf of Mexico, where he worked on offshore pipe lay barges and jet barges. He also has extensive experience on heavy lift derrick barges and drill ships. Mr. Preskitt was part of the Taylor team that pioneered the use of saturation diving and hyperbaric welding working primarily in the North Sea. Mr. Preskitt has performed over 35 hyperbaric welding repairs to platforms and pipelines in the North Sea while in saturation. In 1982, he was one of six divers selected by McDermott Diving Division to participate in a record 1200' saturation dive proving the capability to accomplish work at that depth. Mr. Preskitt also holds a U.K. Bell/Saturation certification, Det Norske Veritas, Hyperbaric Welding Certification, ultrasonic and radiography inspection certifications and holds a United States Coast Guard Masters License.


Michael Bach Memorial Fund

CDA announced the first-ever winner of the Michael Bach Memorial Fund Scholarship: Michael Rutherford. Michael is currently a junior in the Air/Mixed Gas Commercial Diving Program and is set to graduate May 25, 2012. He said, “In the past 2 months, CDA has provided me with the utmost training and preparedness for the field. I couldn’t have a higher amount of gratitude to the Bach Family; without them, I would not be here.” Insert Pictures


New Beginnings

Commercial Diving Academy has changed its corporate name to better reflect the broadening of the scope of the programs we offer. The new name CDA Technical Institute is a better way to communicate the overall mission of our school. “We want to provide programs that have strong career opportunities for our graduates,” said Allen Garber, Chief Administrative Officer. He continued, “We want our potential students to know that it’s not about just signing them up and pushing them through a given program. It is about them and finding the right career to succeed and for them to achieve their goals. We will continue to grow where ever we see the need for skilled workers.”

CDA Technical Institute is preparing for the first class start of our new program this spring: Industrial Non-Destructive Testing (INDT). The program has been designed to provide all the necessary skills and certifications for a graduate to find employment in this ever-growing field. “The program is a perfect fit for the institute as we already teach our divers the basic skills of NDT for underwater use,” said Captain Ray Black, Founder and CEO. He continued, “There is a need for these highly trained persons and it give a career opportunity to those who may be challenged by the stricter requirements for commercial diving.”
The program is 750 clock hours and 30 weeks (half-days), Monday through Friday. Graduates will receive certifications in:

  • Visual Testing
  • Liquid Penetrant
  • Magnetic Particle
  • Ultrasonic
  • Eddy Current
  • Radiography

Please contact our Admissions Department for details including start dates.

News and Notes

Michael “Red” and Jillian Merchant celebrated the arrival of their second daughter, Olivia Shaye Merchant, on November 23rd, 2011. Red also was excited about passing the DCBC Supervisor Test.

Foster Akins, lead intern will now be working with our international students that are starting very soon. He said, “While I will miss the role I have been in, I am excited for the opportunity to work with students with entirely different background and culture.”

Heather Hodges has taken on another role in CDA’s Administration. She is now meeting with current students about their accounts and meeting with the seniors for clearing finance during their graduation week. She continues to enjoy teaching construction math to the welding freshmen each month!

The CDA NASE Instructor program continues to grow; we are having more and more students taking the plunge to become an Instructor. Although it means more hours studying and classroom work, the students are having fun learning what it takes to become an Instructor on the weekends at the Deep Water Training, Center where the visibility is in excess of 80 feet. Many students are also taking the EMT/DMT elective and while it is also hard work and long hours, they realize the importance of having this knowledge. The students know that it will benefit them and other divers when they start work with a dive company.

CDA graduates from the four month Maritime Welding Program have put their training to good use are working from coast to coast. Graduates from the welding program have accepted jobs recently in Wisconsin, Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Washington State. These individuals are employed in the railroad, wind turbine, shipbuilding, automotive, equipment repair and manufacturing industries. They are working for companies both large and small.


In Early December 2011, a human resource representative from defense contractor, Huntington Ingalls, interviewed every Maritime Welding program student at a job fair conducted in downtown Jacksonville. This in turn led to a campus visit to check out the program because they were impressed with the quality of CDA students. The visit and interviews subsequently lead to the hiring of several graduates with the company at the Newport News, Virginia location. Also recently, a local Jacksonville employer, BAE Shipbuilding, contacted the Maritime Welding Program and stated they are in need of as many welders and fitters that CDA can provide.

Let the CDA Maritime Welding Program teach you the welding skills it takes to “Hold America Together!”

The next available class for the CDA Air/Mixed Gas Commercial Diving Program starts Tuesday, May 29th and we continue to work on enrolling students 90 to 120 days ahead of our classes. For a full schedule of classes, please see the website or contact Admissions.


CDA has been building and expanding over the last few months, all while the city of Jacksonville is repairing the Trout River Bridge and moving the utilities underground. Once they are completed, Trout River Boulevard will end in a cul-de-sac in front of CDA. We are forming a larger campus and the new walkways will connect the two properties.

Les Gorski visited CDA again in February and taught another hat class. The students were entertained by his many stories and were able to learn how his hat specifically functions. He will be visiting CDA on a quarterly basis and we always look forward to his visits. CDA will also be adding another six Gorski dive helmets, which will give us 14 Gorski hats and over 30 hats total to utilize for training.


CDA’s Diving Placement Department has been receiving many calls from companies looking for tenders and divers. CDA’s Placement Director, Grant Hibbard said, “We have had more calls in the last two weeks than in the previous six months and we look forward to this continuing through the summer. We’d love to hear from all of the alumni!” Please contact Grant for more information about the diving companies that are currently hiring.

CDA recently expanded the medical and chamber training to the building that used to house the classrooms. We now have two 54” chambers on dive station, a 60” chamber in the new building, along with a Seacrest 2500 and a Seacrest 3200 medical mono-place chambers used for CHT training.


CDA also continues to expand their dive training by adding a new diving barge. The barge will support the schools diving operations and allows room for 8 more diver and a standby diver. The pipeline project was moved to make room for the new barge so CDA took the opportunity to update that as well. It now has two “oil rigs” and additional spool pieces to resemble the oil rigs that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico.


NASE Worldwide News

NASE Worldwide is proud to announce that the Cave Diving Program will debut at the 2012 Our World Underwater Show.

Developed following NASE’s competency-based philosophy, training will enable NASE Cave Divers to safely explore the “inner world.”

Cave diving certifications have seen an unprecedented growth in a down economy. The recent movies that depict caves and the shows promoting exploration of the “inner world” have increased the awareness and provided a window of visibility into this exciting part of diving.

“Training is vital for safe exploration of caves and needs to be accessible for those who choose this exciting area of diving,” says Harry Averill, NASE’s Cave Diving Advisor. “Our program is a no- nonsense approach to teaching the fundamentals of safe cave diving.”

NASE Worldwide introduces a comprehensive Cave Diver Training Program with some differences:

  • Available courses range from entry-level NASE Cave Diver through Instructor Trainer, with programs for both open-circuit and CCR, backmount and sidemount.
  • A comprehensive set of entry-level NASE Cave Diver training materials that includes a totally integrated student manual, study questions and final exam.
  • An up-to-date approach to cave diver training based on how today’s best cave divers actually explore underwater caves — and not on how some experts decided they should do so in 1981.

“Here is our commitment to the cave diving community: NASE will never issue a certification card to a half-trained cave diver. That’s right. We have no Basic, Intro, or Apprentice ratings. The only way to get a NASE Cave Diver card is to demonstrate competency in all of the necessary knowledge and skills,” says Averill.