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New guidelines for Underwater Ship Husbandry (UWSH)

Published on 16 January 2024

Owing to a number of fatalities involving divers working on Underwater Ship Husbandry (UWSH) projects in recent years, IMCA has released new Guidance with the goal of limiting further dangerous incidents.

Guidance on Diving Operations in Support of Underwater Ship Husbandry (IMCA D082) explores all the elements relating to UWSH, including considerations for selecting diving contractors, the roles and responsibilities of those involved, the type of diving equipment which should be used, and the hazards associated with these decisions.

It supports vessel owners in the preparation of bid documents and contracts, as well offering assistance on quality assurance and around the health and safety and working environments of vessels.

IMCA Contact

Bill Chilton
Diving Manager

The technical document also offers advice on the planning, management, and conduct of UWSH diving operations and outlines clear steps to mitigate risk. Owing to the importance of the document to offshore diving safety, we have made the Guidance freely accessible to all.

Bill Chilton, Diving Manager at IMCA, said: “Following at least five reported diver deaths in connection with Underwater Ship Husbandry in 2023, IMCA formed a workgroup of industry experts to develop definitive guidance for those involved in these types of operations – including vessel owners (or their representatives), managers, and masters, chief engineers, shipping agents and shipyards, port and harbour authorities, and, of course, diving contractors.

“The Guidance we have recently released will provide a baseline for the minimum standards required in the planning, management and conduct of safer underwater ship husbandry diving projects with the goal of reducing tragic and avoidable incidents going forward.”

Given its role in bringing the marine industry together, IMCA is uniquely positioned to support the sector tackle a growing problem. Despite the fact that none of the fatal incidents from 2023 involved IMCA Members, the issue remains a key priority for IMCA’s Diving team in 2024.

Bill added: “To support the implementation of some of these new approaches, we are organising an Underwater Ship Husbandry Seminar in Singapore on Thursday 10 October. Featuring a range of industry speakers, the views of local regulators, and case studies from across the IMCA Membership base, it will offer anyone with a working interest in Underwater Ship Husbandry a great way of engaging with the topic and exploring best-practice in this space.”

Registration for the Underwater Ship Husbandry Seminar in Singapore on Thursday 10 October is now open. Free to attend. Download the IMCA Guidance.