Hi friends & readers,
Our guest writer this week is my dashing young friend Venkat Kulkarni. It was Venkat’s choice of a profession that inspired me big-time. Especially because it was way off the beaten track as he dared to do what he loved best – sports,
swimming, watermanship and a spirit of adventure. Reminding us of the famous quote – “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius. So now its over to Venkat.
How it all began
“I have always excelled in water be it swimming or free diving so much so that I went on to become a life guard. During my school years i always chose swimming as my sport and had also represented my alma mater in many swimming events, during these years I chose to attend a Scuba diving camp organised by the Indian Navy. Here we were taught diving using various Scuba systems and were also taken to Lakshadweep to try out our skills t. It was here that I learned about this very alien profession of a deep sea diver.
My choice of a profession based on what I was passionate about
This idea hung on to me while I was pursuing my further studies in B.com from Pune. By the end of my course I had made up my mind on becoming a deep sea diver. I surfed the net and checked out various avenues through which I can pursue my interests. I learned that there are very few institutions around the world which offer courses and training for a deep sea diver. These institutions are located in countries like France, South Africa, UK, and Tasmania.
Training in South Africa
I completed the formalities and headed for South Africa where I began my training.
My course began in September 2007 in a place called Saldana off 150 km from Cape Town. It was very cold out there and our daily schedule started with intense physical training involving 3 km swims and exercises. After that we had our theory classes where we were taught about various diving systems and also about the dynamics of our body under water. Commercial diving is very different from scuba diving which we are familiar with.
As divers we use very heavy and sophisticated state of the art diving systems an example is the Kirby Morgan diving system which is a tough helmet weighing about 20kg with a in built communication system. In scuba diving the source of air is the cylinder which is carried on the back but in deep sea diving we use an umbilical system which is a tough pipe connected to your helmet on one end and to a surface compressor on the other end which provides access to unlimited air supply.
Deep sea conditions
Underwater the physical parameters are very different to what we are used to on land.
There is an increase in pressure as we go deeper and deeper. The pressure rises at the rate of 1 atm (1 atmosphere) for every 10 meters also there is variability of the temperature and play of currents. The diver while under water is subjected to many risks like while resurfacing from greater depths he may develop aeroembolism, narcotic effects of gases, oxygen toxicity etc. Thus one has to be physically fit and mentally sound to meet the demands of this profession. The course was a great experience for me and my training got further refined once I started working.
It’s a freelance profession
Once I completed my training I was excited to pick up a job. Diving is basically a freelance profession where your
experience matters the most and companies prefer trained and well versed divers. I got my first job from an Indian diving company called Dolphin Offshore. I worked with them for 6 months gained experience in riser clamp installations, surveys and marine growth removal. Once i got back home i sent my resume to a Mumbai based agency
that sends divers on jobs around the world. I was then sent to the Middle East where i was part of a very cosmopolitan diving team with divers coming from different corners of the world.
Team effort important even when underwater
As i have explained earlier
commercial diving is a tough field. We are exposed to conditions which are dangerous to our body. We are working with heavy
machinery. The work force under water is also less. A job completed by 3 to 4 men on land has to be done by one diver under water. A team effort is required the head of this operation is the diving supervisor who in monitoring your activities under water via cameras. He is responsible for the air, light and camera connections and also keeps a check on your time. This is very important as a diver cannot stay underwater for a long time as he may develop bends, thus the work has to be done in record time.
Multi-tasking keeps you challenged
The work of a diver changes constantly with the location and requirement. You can be inspecting the structures of oil jackets and platforms, connecting pipelines, installing concrete mattresses on cables on sea beds. Also many science channels regularly employ divers for monitoring and tracking deep sea creatures. The planet Earth series has had large contributions of divers in its making.
Today diving has become an upcoming career with lot to offer to young aspirants who prefer a life of challenge and have a taste for adventure.
So friends I now wish you all the best in your choice of your professional career and may it be very rewarding and exciting. I also thank Dilip Sir for this opportunity to share my experience with you all.