Skip to content

IMCA Minimum Criteria for Offshore Surface Supplied Diver Training

Offshore Surface Supplied Diver Training

Divers undertaking an offshore surface supplied diver training programme must undertake dives in a range of depths to the maximum depth of the qualification.  Upon completion of the programme, they must be competent to operate safely as a surface supplied diver in an offshore environment.  It is also expected that during training divers will undertake a variety of simple work tasks.  The primary focus throughout the training programme, however, should be to ensure that the candidates can operate safely in a number of roles within a dive team including; tender, diver, standby diver and deck crew.  In addition, they must be competent to undertake routine diving related rigging, both on the surface and underwater, by the end of their training.

As a minimum, any recognised programme that leads to an IMCA recognised offshore surface supplied diver qualification must include the following theoretical and open water practical training:

1 Surface Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE)

  • Theoretical instruction to ensure an understanding of the essential physics, physiology, practices and technology to be able to operate and dive safely in an offshore environment;
  • Dives in a range of depths, both as a diver and standby diver, to a maximum depth of 50 metres and from a range of dive stations.  The training must include operations from both a cage (dive stage) and wet bell. 
    • Note: A diving basket fitted with a dome is not a wet bell.  A wet bell requires a dome and main supply umbilical from the surface providing (as a minimum) air to a manifold inside the wet bell and diver excursion umbilicals terminated at the wet bell;
  • Decompression dives utilising both in-water and surface decompression techniques;
  • Safe preparation, operation and simple maintenance of a twin-lock decompression chamber;
  • Safe operation and maintenance of equipment used to support offshore diving operations;
  • Operate effectively as part of a diving crew on the surface during routine and emergency situations;
  • Perform simple underwater tasks during diving operations.  These tasks should include; rigging, survey and the use of simple power tools;
  • As a minimum, complete first aid training to a recognised standard.

2 Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (Commercial SCUBA)

The minimum equipment configuration for commercial SCUBA is as follows: full-face mask, bail-out cylinder, switching block, lifeline and voice communications.

The following theoretical and practical training:

  • Whilst working as part of a dive team, undertake familiarisation training in the use of commercial SCUBA including, pre-and post-dive procedures;
  • Develop a solid understanding of the application, including practical experience, so that candidates understand the limits of SCUBA as a working technique in a range of depths to a maximum of 30 metres;
  • Actions in the event of an underwater emergency when using SCUBA;
  • An understanding of the limitations of SCUBA when used as a bailout on SSDE.

The minimum number of SCUBA dives required by IMCA to fulfil the training requirements is 10.  Upon completion of the training, even if they do not receive a formal SCUBA qualification, students need to be able to demonstrate competency in the range of skills to support these training objectives.  Additionally, it is accepted that some skills taught during the SCUBA phase of an SSDE programme may also be relevant during surface supply training.

It is for the diver training establishment to develop a programme that ensures that students gain mastery in all the required SCUBA diving skills.

IMCA’s view still remains that SCUBA has inherent limitations and is not a suitable technique for offshore diving operations (see IMCA D 033Limitations in the Use of SCUBA Offshore).

Further details are available in the European Diving Technology Committee (EDTC) publication Inshore and offshore diving industry personnel competence standards.

IMCA Recommended Offshore Surface Supplied Diver Training Standard

IMCA’s minimum criteria for surface supplied diver training can be met by observance of the current International Diving Schools Association (IDSA) Surface Supplied Offshore Air Diver (IDSA Level 3) training standard. 

For more information, please contact [email protected]

IMCA Contact

Ali Macleod
Technical Adviser - Diving

Information Note Details

Published date: 24 March 2023
Information note ID: 1384


IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.