Update on the project to revise the IMCA bell diving supervisor examination

IMCA would like to advise its members that as part of ongoing improvements to the IMCA examination system, the project to revise the IMCA Bell Diving Supervisor (BDS) examination is almost complete.  The revised examination will consist of four sections:

  • Physics;
  • Physiology;
  • Chamber Practices;
  • Bell Diving Operations.

The BDS exam is based around the content of the material contained within IMCA’s guidance documents.  Probably the most useful document for prior study is Guidance for diving supervisors (IMCA D 022).  However, it is absolutely essential that candidates for this exam have an excellent knowledge of all IMCA and DMAC guidance documentation.  Some documents of particular relevance are:

It is also advisable for candidates to have a sound knowledge of the contents of the latest revision of the US Navy Diving Manual.

Candidates who do not prepare adequately will find it a challenge to pass the newly revised BDS examination, in particular the physics, physiology and bell diving operations sections.

The revised exam will be in use from the middle of April 2019.


The IMCA examination resit protocol for all exams has been changed.  The posts of air and bell diving supervisors are safety critical and it is essential that candidates for these positions are able to demonstrate convincingly that they have the necessary aptitude, knowledge and skills to fulfil the roles.  Candidates will only be allowed to sit the IMCA diving supervisor examinations three times: an initial exam and then two subsequent resits.

The following exam resit protocol will apply:

  • Should a candidate be unsuccessful on the first occasion, he/she will be allowed an initial resit which can be booked 30 days after sitting the first exam. The delay is to allow the candidate sufficient time to study before resitting the exam.
  • Should the candidate be unsuccessful following the first resit, he/she will not be permitted to re-sit the exam for a second time until a period of one-year elapses. This is to ensure that the candidate has plenty of time to improve his/her skills, and to learn and master all the required information before trying the exam again.
  • Candidates who fail all three attempts will be required to wait a period of two years from the date of the last failure to allow them to gain more experience before being allowed to re-enter the scheme.

Once the two-year waiting period has elapsed, candidates will then be required to re-take the full supervisor or LST training programme again as detailed in the current version of IMCA offshore diving supervisor and life support technician certification schemes (IMCA D 013), including reattending an IMCA-approved trainee diving supervisor/assistant life support technician (ALST) training programme and fulfilling all the practical training requirements, before reapplying in full again for the examination.