Ross Davidson, 22nd November 2011
A FORT William subsea diver training school and equipment-trial centre said yesterday that the number of firms using its test facilities had doubled this year.
The Underwater Centre, based at the head of Loch Linnhe, said it had hosted 18 trials this year for equipment being developed by oil and gas subsea firms.
General manager Steve Ham added the facilities and sheltered sea loch meant it could offer realistic conditions for subsea technology trials.
“Another advantage we can offer to companies undertaking trials here is the unrivalled experience of our instructional and support staff, who have important knowledge of the loch and the local environment in general,” he said.
The centre, which employs 55 people, also offers subsea training courses in disciplines including air and saturation diving and piloting remotely operated vehicle.
More than 400 students were trained there last year.
The business was established by the UK Government in 1975 to improve safety and competency in the diving industry.
It was privatised in 1981 and the current owner, Finlay Finlayson, bought the site for an undisclosed sum in 2004.
His involvement saved 18 jobs at the centre after its previous owners, Stenmar, went into receivership with debts of more than £3.6million.