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IMCA revises saturation (bell) diving systems inspection guidance

Published on 16 September 2014

The International Marine Contractors Association’s (IMCA)Diving Equipment Systems Inspection Guidance Note (DESIGN) for Saturation (Bell) Diving Systems(IMCA D 024) has now been revised and updated to incorporate equipment improvements and changed operating practices since its first publication in 2001 as well as expanding the sections for the hyperbaric rescue unit, its launch system and its interfaces with the saturation diving system.

“There is also a new section for the life support package (LSP),” explains IMCA’s Technical Director, Jane Bugler.”The format has also been changed slightly to improve ease of use and provide better referencing. It is intended that this document should be used in conjunction with IMCA D 018 -Code of practice on the initial and periodic examination, testing and certification of diving plant and equipment. Cross-references to this Code are provided where appropriate.

DESIGN for Saturation (Bell) Diving Systems has a long and proud history. In the early 1980s, in order to give some guidance to the offshore industry, IMCA’s predecessor the

Association of Offshore Diving Contractors (AODC) started to produce a number of reference documents, standards and guidance notes. This process continued through the 1980s. It was clear, however, that there was still considerable confusion with some diving systems being ‘audited’ several times a year by different clients, each of whose representatives had slightly different interpretations as to what was required.

AODC published document reference AODC 052 – Diving Equipment Systems Inspection Guidance Note (DESIGN) – in February 1989 that sought to clarify any interpretations necessary and to identify a common standard that could be applied by all parties during an inspection. It was intended for use offshore in the UK sector of the North Sea but in the absence of other guidance it became a standard reference in many parts of the world, particularly where there were no specific national regulations.

Subsequently AODC expanded and revised the document which was re-issued as Rev. 1 in February 1995. This more comprehensive document covered both air and saturation diving systems. It was still based on the requirements of the UK sector of the North Sea but was adopted by many clients and diving contractors world-wide. Some users, however, found it to be complex and difficult to use.

With the increasingly international nature of the offshore diving industry, IMCA revised AODC 052 Rev. 1 in order to simplify it, clarify any anomalies which had shown up and adapt it for international use, rather than restrict it to North Sea use. It was also decided to split it into separate documents, one for surface diving (IMCA D 023 published 2000) and the other for saturation diving (IMCA D 024 published 2001).

Current update
“Subsequently documents were issued in 2006 for surface supplied mixed gas diving (IMCA D 037) and mobile/portable surface supplied diving (IMCA D 040),” explains Jane Bugler. “IMCA D 024 for saturation diving systems was revised and updated to Rev. 1 in 2013 and to Rev. 2 in 2014. At that time we recognised that it was no longer adequate to simply have a small section in this document to cover hyperbaric evacuation.

“The latest revision therefore includes updated sections for the hyperbaric rescue unit, its launch system and its interfaces with the saturation diving system as well as the life support package (LSP).

“It was recognised that any hyperbaric reception facility (HRF) forming part of the hyperbaric evacuation system (HES) would be likely to be in a different physical location to the equipment covered by IMCA D 024 and would thus need a separate DESIGN document (IMCA D 053).”

IMCA D 024 can be downloaded free of charge by members and non-members alike from the IMCA website at Printed copies are available from [email protected] at £10.00 for members and £20.00 for non-members.