Administrators appointed to Underwater Centre

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Accountancy and business advisory firm Johnston Carmichael has appointed administrators to the troubled Underwater Centre in Fort William.

The Underwater Centre in Fort William announced last Monday that it had been forced to cease trading as one of only two centres in the world that offers closed bell training to divers.

It’s understood the collapse of the firm has put up to 50 jobs at risk.

David McGhie, managing director of The Underwater Centre, said he was “heartbroken” to announce the closure having been hopeful of finding a solution.

The centre was reported to be in financial difficulties last year when its subsidiary in Australia fell into liquidation.

Donald McNaught, restructuring partner at Johnston Carmichael and administrator appointed to the centre, said: “Despite a long history of providing subsea training and testing, The Underwater Centre has been severely hit by the recent and prolonged downturn in the oil and gas industry.

One of only two diving centres in the world which provide vital, closed-bell diver training, The Underwater Centre was recognised a centre of excellence for diver training, subsea trials and testing.

In May 2018, it was thought to have been rescued from the threat of closure after an industry collaboration with offshore firms.

Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), Subsea 7, TechnipFMC, Premier Oil and the Scottish Government’s Highlands and Islands Enterprise joined forces to try to secure its long-term future. However that failed to save it from going into administration.

Mr McNaught added: “Our first priority is the staff and we will be working with PACE and other organisations to ensure they receive the support they need. We will also be working with all stakeholders and interested parties to explore the options for the business and its assets.”