By Steven Grindrod
Working Group Chairman of the PCN Underwater Inspection Scheme reports
The BINDT Certification Management Committee and Council approved the Underwater Inspection Scheme earlier this year.
The Level 1 course notes are complete and are awaiting validation. Much of the content is applicable to the other levels of qualification, but additional course notes will be produced as required.
Final edits are being made to the marking guides, examination questions have been drafted and prospective authorised qualifying bodies (AQBs) have been identified.
A date and venue for the pilot scheme will be decided as soon as one or more of the prospective AQBs and approved training organisations (ATOs) has been successfully audited and appointed.
So, the PCN Underwater Inspection Scheme has now moved off the drawing board; it now exists, but perhaps some clarification concerning what the new scheme is about may be useful.
The PCN Scheme is discipline-specific, so it was important to design the underwater scheme to fit in with that basic philosophy – to that end underwater inspection has been considered as a single discipline.
Have we made a round peg fit into a square hole? Well no, we haven’t. What we have done is consider the reality of the situation. When a client wants an underwater inspection carrying out they expect a single dive team or team member to be capable of completing whatever inspection tasks are required. This also simplifies the decisions a company has to make concerning manning requirements.
Underwater inspection and those who practice it are in a unique position compared to their topside colleagues. Due to the nature of diving and ROV work, personnel involved must be multi-skilled; it is not convenient or sometimes even possible, or indeed financially viable, to change out a diver or pilot whenever a different type of inspection is required. They therefore require a certification scheme that is similarly multi-faceted.
Therefore, the PCN Underwater Inspection Scheme is designed as follows:
In common with other PCN schemes it will have three levels, but the first two levels have been separated into Diving and ROV. There will be a Level 1 Diving qualification and a Level 1 ROV qualification (eventually!). There will also be Level 2 qualifications for each discipline.
The Level 1 qualification will cover all the practical aspects of the discipline, actually getting down and doing the job. They will know how to follow a specified procedure and why it is important to do so, but they will not be expected to design, develop, write or administer that procedure; they will know how to do the job.
They will be trained and examined in the practical aspects of all current underwater inspection tasks commonly carried out around the world, inshore and offshore.
The Level 2 qualification is intended to be supervisory and will cover the procedural and control aspects of underwater inspection. They will ensure that the correct methods are being applied and to the proper standards. In common with other PCN qualifications, Level 2 people will have a proven practical background in all the skills they are expected to supervise and control.
Having the diving and ROV disciplines separated in this way will address the needs of those companies who specialise in either but rarely, if ever, both. It is common for ROV companies, for instance, to need inspection controllers, but currently there is no suitable qualification available which does not include a large section devoted to diving. The Level 2 ROV Inspection Controller qualification will cover all that is required of such a person, without the need for candidates to study and be examined on subjects they neither need nor want. The same goes for the Level 2 Diver Inspection Controller qualification; that will be diving specific and contain little, if any, ROV inspection content, except for possible reference or comparison purposes.
The Level 3 qualification will cover both diving and ROV inspection, and this person will be conversant with all methods of underwater inspection as carried out by divers and ROVs. They will be experienced in the practical aspects and the procedures involved in both methods of inspection data collection. Additionally, they will be proficient in the various methods used to gather, record and process inspection data. They will also be familiar with the considerations relevant to multi-role work scheduling when divers, air and saturation, and ROV operations are required simultaneously.
The flow chart below illustrates the relationship between the different levels of certification planned.
The flowchart shows the possible supplementary qualifications that may be developed. Some working group members have enquired about the possibility of having a UWILD (Underwater Inspection in Lieu of Dry Docking) qualification for those people and companies who specialise in such work. Others have asked for a concrete inspection supplement to be considered. The PCN supplementary qualification system lends itself very well to such additional applications.
The diving and ROV supplements would enable those people who have previously qualified to Level 2 in either diving or ROV to attain the Level 3 qualification.
Cross-over provision from existing underwater inspection certification has been discussed and the requirements for this have been included in the scheme documentation.
The possibility of integration with topside NDT qualifications has also been intimated and may be discussed further in the future.
It is intended that the scheme should benefit from centralised documentation. All training organisations, no matter where they are, will use the same course manuals, datasheets, classroom worksheets etc. The documentation will be controlled, reviewed and modified as required by PCN administration and the scheme working group.
Reviews and any modifications are expected to take place annually. This will be subject to practical considerations but having standardised documentation centrally controlled should make this process more manageable.
The scheme will initially be in the English language but there is recognition of the need for foreign language versions and these will hopefully be developed as the scheme is taken up.
Anyone interested in obtaining further information about the PCN Underwater Inspection Scheme can do so by contacting Suzanne Purdy, PCN Administrator, email: firstname.lastname@example.org