My short bio: Hey guys and gals! I was answering some questions about my career over in r/WTF and was told by a few folks that I should come here and do an AMA! I've been in the industry for ten years and seen and done some crazy things so I'm here to tell you all about them if you're interested!

My Proof: Her is a link to some pics of me and my work

More work proof:

I'm new to Reddit so I'm sure I'm doing this wrong lol!

Comments: 232 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

LAteNutz23 karma

I just read the WTF thread. A ways down there was a post about a Navy diver who was working with a dive buddy. When the diver was blown away by a sudden underwater current, he looked for his buddy but only found a frayed tether.

Got any stories like this?

I_0nly_downvote32 karma

No, fortunately I don't. I do know of two guys that were killed within the same month from Manta Rays though. They were working on bottom and all of the sudden they were dragged straight up super fast and were bent really badly causing them to die, Turns out the Manta Rays like to play with diver umbilicals.

LAteNutz13 karma

What does 'bent' mean?

I_0nly_downvote13 karma

Getting bent is when the nitrogen bubbles in your body start to expand from not properly decompressing. It sucks. There are all sorts of different types of "bends" Some aren't so serious, some are life threatening.

EDIT: I fucked up

motokrow2 karma

Nitrogen bubbles. I got bent once. It sucked.

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

Oops. Brain fart on my part!

Sorry to hear about that. I bet it did suck! What happened if you don't mind my asking?

motokrow5 karma

No worries. I was wreck diving in heavy seas off N Carolina. I wasn't that deep -- maybe 115'. I had a computer and didn't exceed bottom time. After exploring the wreck, I ascended the anchor line while surrounded by a huge school of Jacks. I did a safety stop and returned to the boat. The dive master complemented me for doing the stop -- none of the other divers were able to because of the rough conditions near the surface.

While crouched down and stowing my gear under the bench, I started to feel chest pain -- like a cramp mixed with heartburn and shortness of breath. It got worse, and my Dad noticed I didn't look right. It was difficult to speak, but I was able to ask for oxygen. They lay me down to administer the oxygen and the pain was incredible. I went from feeling like I was dying to feeling perfectly okay over the course of the three hour ride back to port. I drove home to Raleigh that night and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't feel my feet. Drove myself to Duke University and spent two days in a chamber.

They don't know why I got bent. Computer showed I hadn't exceeded down time and didn't ascend too quickly. I had taken some strong allergy medicine that morning and it may have been a factor.

I_0nly_downvote4 karma

Damn man! That sounds terrible! And then two days in the chamber on top off all that?!?!?!?! Glad you made it out okay! Do you still dive?

motokrow3 karma

I did many times after that, but I haven't been in a long time.

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

You're a brave man! I don't know if I would get back in if I was bent that bad.

GSun10321 karma

Any noteworthy encounters with deep sea creatures?

I_0nly_downvote23 karma

Had a run in with a fleet of hammerheads, but they didn't seem to mind me much.....

goofymilk16 karma


I_0nly_downvote16 karma

I got a knife that does the trick ;)

Thee_Nick6 karma

A fleet.... that sounds horrifying.

I_0nly_downvote9 karma

It was the literal definition of awesome!

thunder_c0ck18 karma

Tell us about the animals you have encountered in the ocean excluding OP's girlfriend.

I_0nly_downvote21 karma

Hahaha! Been caught in the middle of a fleet of hammerheads passing through once. That was exciting! Seen lot's of whale sharks, sea turtles, dophins, crabs, crabs are assholes, trigger fish. I actually have an interesting story about trigger fish.......

thunder_c0ck11 karma

Yes... Go on, please.

I_0nly_downvote34 karma

Well, when you're working underwater, sometimes you just have to take a crap. So there I was, minding my own business, taking a crap. Turns out trigger fish like to eat crap straight from the source. It was a little scary and uncomfortable to say the least

Waves_of_awesome14 karma

hold on, do you crap in your wetsuit? I need the crap facts.

I_0nly_downvote16 karma

Nah, I just pull them down and let it float to the surface. I know guys that do though!

goofymilk7 karma


I_0nly_downvote9 karma

I mean, I piss in my wetsuit all the time. Best way to stay warm subsea!

bainpr9 karma

Who doesn't piss in there wetsuit, we wanna know if you shit in the wet suit, your avoiding the question mister diver.

I_0nly_downvote11 karma

Ok, ok, I confess. There may have been a time or twenty when I shit my suit.

GSun10311 karma

Why are crabs assholes? I mean, they seem like the type, but want to feel justified in my assumptions.

I_0nly_downvote28 karma

They are just little pricks, always trying to rush up on you and threaten you and crap. Always trying to start shit.

theblondebasterd4 karma

Do you ever wish they'd start singing to you like you were Ariel? Or do you kick them in the face to quickly for this?

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

As long as they didn't act like pricks I don't think I'd mind too much!

KeenPro7 karma

Ever blast a crab in the face with your welding gun beam torch thingy?

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

No, but I've hit them with a high pressure jet nozzle a few times! They split like butter!

ghostmacekillah16 karma

What is the most important difference in underwater welding today and 20-30 years ago?

Also, what was one of the scarier things you ever saw down there?

I_0nly_downvote37 karma

I'd have to say the regulations, the gas mixtures, and the dive tables.

One of the scarier things that I haven't mentioned that happened to me was when I was walking on bottom and started seeing little greenish lights light up everywhere. At first I was thinking it was some Abyss type stuff going on, then I was like Oh shit! I might have a brain tumor! But then I found out it was just some luminescent phosphor I was stirring up on the bottom. It's actually quite beautiful!

ssnake-eyess3 karma

Could you elaborate a little on what changed in terms of gas mixtures and dive tables?

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

Well I wasn't diving in the 70's and 80's just to clarify. But from what I understand, most companies used the standard US Navy dive tables. After a while companies started researching their own dive tables and using those. As far as gas mixes, most dives were just surface supplied air. So you had crap bottom times, nitrogen narcosis, and an increased chance of getting the bends. Then the companies started using mixed gases instead of just surface supplied air so they could get better bottom times and decrease the chances of a diver getting bent.

Unicornpark13 karma

Are there various types of underwater welders? What has been done to make diving safer since the 70s? What's a normal work schedule for you?

Thanks for the time!

I_0nly_downvote20 karma

There aren't really various types of underwater welders. You are really just a Commercial Diver which is a "jack of all trades". Whatever people need you to do, you go underwater and do. Now for Nuke Reactor diving there are specific certifications and security clearances you have to get, but that's about it.

A normal work schedule for me is 28 days on, 28 days off. 12 hours a day when I'm at work with the occasional 16 hour days.

No problem!

TechnologyFetish5 karma

What does a normal work day look like? What sort of pay do you get while apprenticing? Does the work, or work schedule change much after the apprenticeship?

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

Work day is easy enough. You show up, do your dive and then the rest of the day is yours to do whatever you can think of. The pay during the apprenticeship isn't too phenomenal. Probably between 20-25 an hour. But you get overtime everyday and the occasional dive with depth pay. The schedule doesn't change after the apprenticeship, but the money increases exponentially.

TechnologyFetish2 karma

Is it 12 straight hours without breaks? Do you usually sign on with one site or do you get sent all over the place?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Plenty of breaks. To be honest with you it's more like 2-3 straight hours of work and then just mess around all day!

I personally usually get sent all over the place internationally.

ExiledAmerican11 karma

Why do Asians take so many photos?

I_0nly_downvote43 karma

Because they value their experiences and memories?!

Typhlosi0n2 karma


Typhlosi0n2 karma


I_0nly_downvote3 karma


ba_da_bing11 karma

Have you met women who do this kind of work? Are there any size requirements to safely be a commercial diver? I imagine men built like fire fighters.

I_0nly_downvote16 karma

I have met women that dive and they are just as awesome at this job then most of the guys out there.

There are size requirements, mostly just don't be obese. The body doesn't like to process nitrogen if there is a lot of fatty tissue. I know three guys straight out of dive school who couldn't get jobs because they were just too large.

GSun1036 karma

How about small people, are they seen as a disadvantage as well?

I_0nly_downvote9 karma

No, not at all. That would actually be advantageous is some circumstances!

WildPepperoni11 karma

Have you ever been on a dive where things went south and someone got seriously injured?

I_0nly_downvote25 karma

I have been on a vessel where that happened. I wasn't in the water. I can't name any names but here is the story.

We were out cutting down some legs after hurricane Katrina and the diver that was in the water cutting at the time forgot to cut vent holes in the top of the leg while he was cutting 30ft down. Needless to say a huge gas pocket built up and reached where he was cutting and exploded. The explosion was so massive that it pushed the vessel back. He was obviously right next to the leg when it exploded. All of his bones were crushed like mush and the glass on his helmet was shattered as well. He died instantly. There was a huge investigation and the project was shutdown for about three months.

GSun10311 karma

Good lord, that sounds gruesome.

I_0nly_downvote23 karma

It was definitely a really bad deal and it shook a lot of people up out there. It really sucks that he was new to the job and that his wife just had a baby two months prior.

OseanStratagy7 karma

When people say the pay is really good, what is the average like these days?

I_0nly_downvote10 karma

I make 150k a year. 65k of that is a retainer that I get whether I work or not.

OseanStratagy6 karma

Is 150k/year the top end? Or will you/can you make more?

I_0nly_downvote4 karma

I'll make more, but not much.

goofymilk3 karma


I_0nly_downvote3 karma

No it's not. I wish it was though!

AnArmyOfWombats11 karma

We were out cutting down some legs after hurricane Katrina

What are legs?

I_0nly_downvote10 karma

It's what holds up the platform of the oil rig.

Yuleigan10 karma

How do you get into this line of work? I would have liked to have gone into ROV piloting but didn't know what to do or where to go, what advice would you have given to me 5/10 years ago?

I_0nly_downvote9 karma

Honestly, go to the military or get a degree in some sort of engineering. I got lucky to get into ROV. I had a Gas Turbine background from the military and was already a commercial diver. So getting into ROV as well was a no brainer for me.

Yuleigan3 karma

Being 25 with a mortgage going back to full time education is almost definitely out the window, might look into part-time study to advance my HND. Thanks for answering and thanks for the advice :)

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

Good luck and no problem!

ManWithYourPlan10 karma

What's picture 2 of? An anchor??

How did you get into the business?

Any memorable stories/scary moments?

I_0nly_downvote37 karma

Yeah the second picture is of a crane hook on the Balder. It's a construction barge, and I believe the largest in the world! We used that giant hook to put in the first APL Buoy in the Gulf of Mexico. The APL Buoy is like an underwater gas pump for oil. The ship places itself over the top of it and the APL Buoy rises up into the bottom of the vessel and loads it up with oil. It was a pretty cool experience installing it! We had Nat. Geo out there filming us the entire time!

A scary story?! I've got a few! I'll copy paste one from earlier real quick!

When I first started diving I was walking a pipeline in zero visibility for a survey. I came up to a "wall" that wasn't supposed to be there so I called out to topside and told them there was something in my way. Topside called back and said that they didn't have anything marked as being there. So I started banging on the "wall" explaining to them that there is clearly something in my way. About half way through my explanation the "wall" moved and smacked me in the face making me scream like a school girl at a horror movie! The "wall" was a Goliath Grouper best I can figure. Still not too sure.

Besides that, another time I had just got done with a dive and I was coming back up. The visibility was beautiful! Clear as far as the eye could see. I was running through my deco stop and had to stop for 15 minutes , otherwise I could risk getting bent. Then, not even ten feet over head, HUNDREDS, of hammerhead sharks started swimming past! That was both terrifying and beautiful.

Danthezooman12 karma

Giant fish make me not want to get scuba certified.

Fuck I've stared an Elephant down on a mock charge (she was excited on a rainy day), but giant fish will make me scream and wet myself

I_0nly_downvote10 karma

C'mon man! You faced down a giant elephant?! Fish ain't a thing after that!!

thewhoiam9 karma

A Goliath Grouper is a fish that can grow up to 3m/10ft and 360kg/790lb. Sounds like a wall!

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

Yeah man, it felt like a wall!!!!!!!!!!

UnrealNL8 karma

What is the deepest en darkest place you went, and how does your body feel if you go that deep? Is it true that still big parts of the oceans are not fully discovered by man?

I_0nly_downvote19 karma

Deepest I've been is 375feet. The deepest a human body can go on record is 1,500ft. That is the last record set by Oceaneering. I couldn't really notice a difference on my body that deep. Now on straight surface supplied air past 150feet I've experienced Nitrogen Narcosis. It's like drinking a whole bottle of whiskey and smoking a joint all at once. It's pretty intense.

We definitely haven't explored a fraction of the oceans bottom.

UnrealNL3 karma

Wow that is really deep! I can imagine getting scared of heights in the water!

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

You know what's kind of funny? I'm actually scared to death of heights. I won't go higher than six feet off the ground! My body just won't let me! But I'll damn sure jump into whatever body of water you want me to and go down as deep as I can!

ssnake-eyess2 karma

Is it not usual to breathe trimix at depth?

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

Not at all. Deep dives we use Tri-mix.

Scrapper698 karma

What made underwater welding dangerous, and what kinds of technologies make it a lot safer now?

I_0nly_downvote20 karma

What made underwater welding dangerous was the exposure to gases, sloppy decompression tables, lack of knowledge on behalf of companies, and "cowboy" attitudes to be honest.

Now days there are different gas mixtures that companies use to limit the nitrogen in your body and more refined decompression tables that we use. Also safety policies have become the standard. Before it was just kind of a "fuck it" let's get it done attitude.

croco_bob8 karma

Came here from the thread on r/wtf and just gotta say I have mad respect for what you do. I almost went into the underwater welding field after high school but after reading about all encounters with sea life larger than people I'm SO FUCKING GLAD I didn't. I guess my real question is what made you go into this field? For me I was a swimmer through high school so being in the water is where I'm at home, and that's what sparked my interest in this field. Also have you ever had an encounter that left you staying out of the water for a good bit of time?

I_0nly_downvote9 karma

Thanks a lot man! It's not that bad, you should come give it a try!

What got me into the field was a guy named Sam. He lived across the street from my father here in Houston and him and his GF were divers. I didn't even know the job existed. Well, she worked for NASA in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab with Astronauts and I remember just thinking that was the coolest thing. He worked offshore and made good money(I presume) and he was home half the year. I always thought that that was a good life! Adventure, money, and time off! I wish I could find that guy because he was a huge inspiration to me!

I've had a few encounters that made me want to stay out of the water but unfortunately bills made me jump back in, haha! The one time I really got spooked was from a giant grouper that I thought was a wall in zero visibility water. At least I assume it was a grouper!

fredmeepbob7 karma

How easy is it to get into your profession, once someone has all the certifications and proves themselves to be competent?

Are you guys unionized?

What advice would you give to someone looking into this? Learn how to weld first?

-21 year old looking desperately for an interesting career

I_0nly_downvote13 karma

It's pretty easy. Come up with the money, haha! The dive schools will get you all your certs and teach you everything you need to know. After that you are thrown to the wolves and have to start a sort of "apprenticeship".

Where I am we are not unionized. I know California is. I heard they get paid good over there but that it's hard to find work.

The advice I would give is don't give up. If you feel uncomfortable/scared in dive school, work through it. I was telling the guys in r/WTF earlier, I thought I was a tough guy and wasn't scared of anything. I got in dive school and they put me in the Decompression Chamber and I found out I was claustrophobic. I had to get over it real quick. I saw a lot of real deal tough guys drop out because some shit about diving scared them. It's honestly worth it though. I've lived 4x the life most people have and seen stuff 99% of the world will never see first hand and as a plus I can afford to do whatever I want with my family! It's definitely an adventure! As far as learning to weld before hand, don't waste your time. It's COMPLETELY different subsea!

asimplescribe3 karma

You also learn the welding in a dive school?

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

Yup! Welding underwater is a completely different beast. So you spend a good amount of time welding in a tank.

bobthebobd6 karma

What's your take on why they can't find the plane that went down in water? How hard is it to find something like that?

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

They would have to search with ROVs and even then it would be like finding a needle in a hay stack unless they knew exactly where it went down. I hope they do find it soon though. That way all those families can have some closure.

goofymilk2 karma


I_0nly_downvote9 karma

Yeah. More like disintegrated instead of crashed though.

Commack6 karma

What's the coolest/most rare thing you have ever seen?

When, if ever, were you sure you'd drown?

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

Off the coast of Equatorial Guinea at about 100ft depth I saw an octopus that looked just like Blinky from Pacman. I shit you not. I doubt it had ever been seen by any body else before and that it was some sort of unknown species. Seen other cool things like "headless chickens", at least that's what we call them. They look like a chicken you'd buy from the grocery store, just floating around in the water.

I was pretty sure I'd drown when I got my umbilical pinched top side. It gets super hard to breath and every breath you take sucks water into your helmet. It scared the shit out of me. Luckily I had my bail out bottle and the problem got sorted top side!

goofymilk4 karma


I_0nly_downvote4 karma

It's a scuba tank that's on our backs, just in case.

Bobs164 karma

Towards the top you mentioned the two who got pulled up by Manta Rays too quickly. Would these two have survived if they cut their umbilical and went up gracefully with their bail out bottle? Or disengaged from it somehow?

I_0nly_downvote7 karma

They might have had a chance, but I seriously doubt they could have survived.

Zaporah6 karma

Ever explored any sunken ships/cool things you've seen on your dives?

I_0nly_downvote9 karma

Yes I have actually! There was a really cool ship called the Green Lantern that was a few hundreds of years old that sunk in the Spanish Main off the cost of Texas. Lots of old Oil Lanterns and stuff like that, but we weren't allowed to touch anything!

NikeStrike6 karma

Howcome you're not allowed to touch anything?

Probably a stupid question

[deleted]6 karma


AnArmyOfWombats3 karma

Does she dive as well?

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

She doesn't dive, but she does go down ;)

Don't tell her I said that!

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

Sorry, I read that out of context at first. The reason we weren't allowed to touch anything is because they didn't want us to disturb the way it had sunk. We were just there to take a survey of the wreckage.

vikinick6 karma

I though the title said Driver and I was surprised when the pictures were all dealing with water-related stuff and not semis.

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

Sorry bro, didn't mean to disappoint you :(

vikinick3 karma

It wasn't disappointing as much as surprising that a truck driver would have the time to do that sort of stuff.

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

Haha, right on!

Aquaboy406 karma

What exactly does a commercial diver do?

I_0nly_downvote10 karma

Any and everything that we can do underwater that we can get paid for ;)

A less vague answer: Waste water diving, Nuclear Reactor Diving, Welding, etc. Mostly inspections and repairs!

Cerniglia5 karma

What about underwater basket weaving?

I_0nly_downvote17 karma

Sorry, I didn't go to university. :(

Aquaboy403 karma

Are you always in a small sub when you do these jobs or do you sometimes go scuba diving?

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

Never in a small sub. Always surface supplied air when I'm in the water. But as I said I am also an ROV pilot. That's just a remotely operated vehicle. It's kind of like playing a REALLY expensive video game!

JetpackSpaceman5 karma

How long can you hold your breath for?

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

Eww man, not as long as I should be able to!!! 2 minutes tops! I know a couple guys that can hold their breath for around 7 minutes though......

Zaporah7 karma

That's crazy long...I did varsity swimming in HS, and I was decent, but damn!

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

Yeah it is! How long could you hold your breath for?

Zaporah5 karma

Oh gosh, its been a long time...but back then I think I could do ~2 1/2 to 3. Now, probably like....1 :-D

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Hahaha, right on! That's still not bad!

theonlyalterego4 karma

what's the biggest catfish mouth you've welded shut?

also what are the most signifigant advances to make your profession safer in recent decades?

I_0nly_downvote17 karma

Biggest catfish mouth ever welded shut?! Probably about 30 bananas wide! Yeah, definitely 30 bananas!

Most significant advance in safety would definitely have to be the introduction of "saturation diving". Decompression is the most dangerous part of the dive and this limits your decompression to one time during your project.

hr_shovenstuff4 karma

This is great! Thanks for doing this AMA. I am currently a Personal Trainer and Manager and I have been looking to move into another career. I love the ocean and have been trying to save up for my diving certs for the passed year. I am 22, 23 in August so I don't want to waste anymore time. I live in CA if that's noteworthy. I have a few questions:

  • What's the base starting pay and can you increase this?

  • How do you become a commercial diver? Just get all the required certifications?

  • What does a commercial diver do specifically? Or, is it a broad term meaning that you pick and choose the specific type of work to do? For example, do you choose to be a CD then move into UW Welding?

  • Do the jobs you do as a CD have a lot of variance in pay? If so, what are the lowest paid jobs and highest?

  • Is this career possible without a college degree or military background?

  • What are your typical hours? Is it a 6month/year job like a lot of Oil jobs, is more every few months as in construction, or is it 9-5?

  • If you had any words of wisdom for a new person seeking this field as a career choice, what would they be?

  • Ultimately, is your family happy with your choice of career? I am engaged so this would be important to me.

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

It's definitely noteworthy that you live in California because if you decide to stay there it will have a huge effect on your career as a diver. I may not be able to answer all your questions because I'm not sure what the rules are in the California Divers Union. But I'll try...

Starting pay is tricky. If you choose to stay in California you'll probably get paid real good because the union there. But work is hard to find from what I hear. In the Gulf of Mexico the starting pay will prob be around 20 an hour as a tender. It doesn't sound like much but keep in mind that this is entry level and that you get paid 12 hours 24/7 as long as you're on the job plus any overtime, plusdepth pay for a dive!

You have to go to dive school to get you certs.

Commercial Divers do anything in the water. There are all sorts of fields to choose from. You could go offshore into the oil fields and make decent money. You could go dive in sewage and make a killing! Or you can even go dive into nuclear reactors and make a grip doing inspections

Not really a huge variance. You wont make as much diving inland as you will offshore. Unless you dive sewage or reactors.

No military or college required to dive. But of course it wouldn't hurt.

one month on one month off 12 hours a day 7 days a week when you are offshore. Some inland gigs are more like a 9-5

Like any other job, do it because you love it. The money is good but honestly it won't make you happy if you don't like your job. Cliche I know.

My career is really hard on me and my family because of the time we spend apart. You will miss the most important things in your childrens lives some times. There is just no way around it.

0t1sdrugs3 karma

Breakfast or brunch?

I_0nly_downvote4 karma

Both. Seriously, both.

Nifarious3 karma

Have you read Jeff Lermire's Underwater Welder? If so, please rate its accuracy on a scale of 1 to Oh my God, 10!

With every downvote, do you feel each stranger's dreams and hopes being sent down to the abyss?

How have your underwater skills translated to your above water skills?

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

No I haven't read it. Never even heard of it to be honest with you! I'm going to have to check it out now though. My favorite book about offshore life is Don't Tell Mom I Work On The Rigs, She Thinks I'm A Piano Player At A Whorehouse. That's the most accurate depiction of the "offshore lifestyle" to me!

Yes.....straight to Davey Jones Locker!

Man, good question.......I'm going to have to come back to that one!

ssnake-eyess3 karma

My favorite diving fiction are the David Poyer novels including Down to a Sunless Sea.

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

I'm familiar with David Poyer! I really liked The Shilo Project!

TachikomaS93 karma

Could you explain what a "typical" day at the office is for you?

What are the best and worst parts of your job.

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

Wake up, eat, drink coffee, bullshit with the guys, go to the morning meeting, see if we have to dive for the day, if so dive, come back up, deco chamber, eat, reddit, reddit, eat, movies, call wife and kids, sleep.

Best parts of the job are the travel and the free-time I get between hitches. The worst part is leaving my kids for a month. Hands down, the worst part.

dildocave3 karma

Do you do any free diving? If yes (or even no) how long can you hold your breath underwater?

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

I used to free dive a bit when I first got into diving. Nothing too serious. I can hold my breath for two minutes. It's kind of disappointing.

nordicapollo2 karma

I am an engineer who has worked (but no longer) closely with divers and ROV operators in the North Sea. Companies like Comex (later Stolt Comex Seaway) and Subsea7.

Sometimes when in the cabin with the ROV operators, watching the displays, I have seen Cod swimming around. I thought it would be awesome to attached a fishing pole, or something similar to a manipulator arm so you could stick the bait right in the Cod's (or any fish's) face. Have you ever done anything silly like that?

Another time, an umbilical got sucked into a thruster which put the vessel out of operation for 3 days. Have you ever had any major fuck-ups like that?

Yet another time, another engineer (not me fortunately), specified a 1 ton shackle for use in retrieving a 200kg (450 lbs) piece of equipment from the sea-floor. The diver who had to use it, gave him a thorough cussing out later because it was so tiny and, being the north sea with 4 degrees C (about 40 degrees F) water, he had thick rubber gloves on, therefore it was almost impossible to use. Have you ever wanted to similarly cuss out some of the engineers?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Cool, I'm very familiar with both Stolt and Subsea7! I've did a bit of contracting for Subsea7 actually.

We have on a couple occasions, attached lines on the back of the sub with hooks and small pieces of "trash fish" and brought up Tunas and Groupers! Also it's really easy to catch Monk fish with the manipulator!

I have seen some serious mess ups with ROVs and unfortunately was operating them at the time :( One time we were in "rough" seas in the Gulf of Mexico during the winter with some pretty bad heaves. I was a pilot at the time and my Supervisor had left me in the control van with our trainee. Well the trainee went behind the console and turned of our heave compensation to our winch while I was outside of our TMS(Tether Management System). About two minutes later all of our TMS cameras black out and we completely lose our TMS! We had a fair amount of tether out so we decided to do something really stupid and dangerous and we tried to get the TMS on deck so that we could repair it while the ROV was still in the water along side the boat. We had the TMS strapped down and we were getting our repairs underway and then POP! The tether going from the TMS to the ROV snapped! We ended up chasing that ROV through the Gulf of Mexico for about a week! We had it in our sights the whole time it was floating in the water but we couldn't recover it due to the weather. Needless to say somebody lost their job over that. Another time I saw a Superintendent get his tether stuck in a suction pile while he was setting it! That was interesting!

Yeah, I'm not going to lie. There have been a few times that I've wanted to cuss an engineer for something. But most of those engineers were green fresh out of school and new to the job. So it wasn't really their fault that they didn't have the experience.

bainpr2 karma

Dangit! I'm late to the party. Thanks for doing the AMA, told you people would be interested.

The questions i came up with are:
-What was your favorite diving job?
-What was your deepest diving job?
-What was your most dangerous job?
-Do you ever go diving for fun(i know working in something can take the fun out of it)?
-And of course, scariest fish you have seen while diving, doesn't have to be the biggest?

Sorry if i asked already answered questions, thanks again and i hope you enjoy your AMA.

I_0nly_downvote7 karma

Hey man! No worries I gotcha!

My favorite diving job was a dive for Texas A&M archeological survey on the Green Lantern.

Deepest dive 375 feet!

Most dangerous job was Katrina clean up and salvage for the Cmoking Charlie project.

I used to go diving for fun all the time, but over the last few years I've been busy being a Dad of three. When they get a little older I hope to take them diving and make it a family thing!

Scariest fish would have to be a Barracuda. Sharks won't really fuck with you. But Barracudas like the shiny bit on the front of your face that blows out the bubbles!

No problem man! If you can think of anything else ask away!

dibz1072 karma

Wow your job seems really interesting. I am a 19 yr old working for the post office and I started at 15/hr which will go up if I become a regular. I've been told by my family to keep this job since it's good with good benefits, but it is just extremely boring to me and I'm not sure I see myself doing it forever.

Going to dive school gives you everything you need to have to be able to get hired for these kinds of things?

Would you recommend quitting a decent job to pursue this career?

How long is the schooling and can people fail out?

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

If you go to dive school you will most likely get a job right after you graduate, without a problem and probably with a sign on bonus.

I probably wouldn't recommend quitting a decent job to pursue this, but you are only 19 and have your whole life ahead of you to try things out.

The schooling is anywhere from 6months to a year depending on which school you go to and yes people do and can fail out.

You just have to seriously ask yourself if this is something you want and can do! Most people only last 5 years in this field. But if you play your cards right, at your age, you may only need five years!

dibz1072 karma

Appreciate the reply!

I_0nly_downvote4 karma

No problem man!

NikeStrike2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, couple a questions...

Did you always think as a youngster that you'd work in water?

Were you a particularly good swimmer as a child?

What do you plan on being your next career move?

I_0nly_downvote6 karma

Not a problem!

Yeah, I think I always knew I wanted to be n the water. I've always wanted to ba a sailor or something when I was a kid. Then I found out about diving and that was it!

I was always a good swimmer, a water bug if you will!

My next career move will be project management from the beach/office! I've had my fill of diving and offshore and would like to be closer to the house more often!

AnArmyOfWombats2 karma

project management from the beach/office

Is there a significant pay difference between your current profession and this management position?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Very significant. I know of some Project Managers making 200k and then there is General Managers that can make 300k. When you're in the oil industry they through around big money. At least that's big money to me!

HamulcarBarca2 karma

To get that sort of position would you require a MBA/P.Eng combo (or one of two) or enough merit is put on work experience that you can slide into the position without university background? I'd imagine you would still need some sort of project management certification/designation?

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

With work experience you can slide into this position. If you get your project management cert that definitely helps get you into that position. To be honest, about 80% of the people I know working in a project management position got there by working there way up from the bottom of the industry.

bobthebobd2 karma

We want to hear about crazy things, tell us.

I_0nly_downvote8 karma

What kind of crazy things?

Kilahbeez2 karma

Do you need a B Pressure ticket to do underwater welding or will a journeymen ticket suffice? I'm looking into getting into welding since I live in Alberta, trades make big bank here with all the oil money around.

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

I'm not sure what you will need in Canada to be honest. It sounds like it is completely different than here in the States. Sorry I couldn't help.

c_qwerky2 karma

Given all the new safety measures, what's the likelihood of commercial divers developing some of the later-term health complications, and how common are some of the more severe injuries?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

I don't really think that there is any likelihood of divers developing any sort of illness later in life from diving. I personally think that's a lot of urban legend type stuff. Some of the more sever types of "bends" now days are hardly ever seen at all.

ohmegaman2 karma

Currently I'm taking welding classes at Austin Community College and underwater welding has always been an interest and I've pretty much made my mind up to move out to Houston this fall. A few questions if I may:

How did you like training at Ocean Corp? Did you enjoy the teachers and administration? When you started working or tending where were your options for work and what did you decide to go with?

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

The Ocean Corp. was an amazing school. They really have the connections in the industry as well as the experience to get you on track to succeed. The teachers and administration were really great, I honestly have no complaints. Most of the guys that I went to dive school with I still keep in contact with and a few have became life long friends, brothers even. The options for work were all based in the United States. Mostly along the Gulf Coast, There were a few companies in Florida and then there is Global Diving and Salvage in Seattle. I went with Cal-Dive to start. They offered me a big sign on bonus, a hat program, and they had plenty of work. I personally would recommend going with someone else though. Global is a great company from what I hear, if you are willing to relocate to Seattle!

ohmegaman2 karma

I don't know what your relationship with underwater inspectors is, but my plan was to go that route. I know it's more paperwork, but after that 4/5 years and it's time to go topside I figure having a background in inspection would be rewarding. At Ocean Corp. (or other schools you know of) do they teach you welding techniques and also inspection training for those that want to go that route? Or would you recommend doing inspection while I'm in community college and then heading down? I'm 24 now, reason being why I wanted to transition this fall was because I know by the time I'm 30 my body will probably have had enough and it only makes sense to start asap.

Also I know that like 90% of the jobs are located in the Gulf, did you ever consider finding jobs in Saudi or the UAE?

PS. What is a hat program?

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

If you become a Commercial Diver you will also be a Underwater Inspector. Chances are you'll be doing welding and all sorts of other things as well. I personally have three different NDT certs under my belt and could pursue an NDT gig if I was inclined to do so. At Ocean Corp. they will teach you inspection and welding. As a diver you have to be a jack of all trades. They pay you to do whatever they want you to, just underwater! If i was you, I would just do the inspection courses at dive school. You'll save yourself a grip of money. Also if I was you, I'd try and start dive school while it's warm. The water is already plenty cold in the summer once you get deep enough!

I did consider doing work in the Saudi or U.A.E.. But I haven't got around to it. I work internationally now. Lot's of work in Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe. Worked in the Middle East as well. The money is all the same and I honestly prefer developing nations. They're like the dive bars of the world! They don't look like much but they are way more fun and the prices are better! Also friendlier people!

A hat program is when the company has a program to either help pay for or reimburse you for your dive helmet/hat. They can cost anywhere from 8k-15k so it kind of helps a lot!

ONE8152 karma

What's the most gratifying part of your job? (other then pay)

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

The most gratifying part of the job for me doesn't actually have to do with the job itself; but rather the places it takes me and the people I get to meet and help in some of the more undeveloped countries. I've made some life long friends in Equatorial Guinea and ended up bringing every single HotWheel car that was in Toys'R'Us to E.G. with me and giving them to their kiddos for Christmas. Little things like that where ever I go. That's really gratifying.

blizzy4612 karma

Craziest story?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Since I already answered my craziest story from actually diving, I'll give you a recent one from a few months ago!

We were getting off the rig in Venezuela waiting for the Helicopter to come and get us. All of the sudden this camouflaged chopper lands and all the locals are telling us to get on! I'm a little scared because here I am, a pinche gringo American getting on a Venezuelan military chopper! We get on the chopper and everything is cool, the guys aren't really saying much, but it wouldn't matter if they did because my Spanish isn't too good. One of the guys flying in with us is fluent though so he ask one of the Venezuelans what's going on, why are we on a military chopper? He tells my co-worker that they are doing training and needed an excuse to fly over some islands and look for marijuana fields! Sure enough these guys find some huge marijuana fields, acres man! They get down low and make sure its pot, mark the location and then fly us in! That was pretty crazy!

happychairs2 karma

How often do you get water in your eyes? It bothers me to no end no matter what. Shower water, pool water, etc always seem to agitate my eyes. I have a salt water pool in my yard that I guess I could "practice" in. I'll also get SCUBA certified pretty soon too I imagine (wife and several other family members are and I'm moving to the Caribbean).

Any tips for that besides "suck it up and get used to it"?

I_0nly_downvote4 karma

As a commercial diver you'll hardly ever get water in your eyes. Your whole head will stay dry because of you "hat" or dive helmet. Unless something goes horribly wrong! But if you're going to get scuba certified "suck it up and get used to it"! ;)

rwildhorseranch2 karma

Wow my brother works for Oceneering and is a ROV driver too in the gulf.

Do you You know A David from Pensacola? He can't dive anymore from an injury at 400ft, took them a week to get him back to the surface as he was saturated from a week down there. Have you ever been severely injured and had to decompress before they would let you on the chopper, I hear its not all that uncommon, or is it?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Can't say I know him. Oceaneering is a big company.

The worst injury I ever got was a "severly" sprained ankle, and they didn't hesitate to get me off the rig ASAP. Can't say I see a lot of injuries offshore or that they are even common to be honest.

nosaJ42972 karma

What's your opinion on deep-sea colonization? If we could find a way to start self-sustainable colonies on the sea floor, it would allow us to develop the unused 2/3 of our planet's surface, fixing (at least for a while) the overpopulation problem. On the other hand, it could have massive negative effects on the sea life. I would love to hear your opinion on this topic

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

I know that NASA has NEEMO, which is an underwater habitat, that they use for various studies. I honestly believe we should look at colonizing what planets we can in our own solar system first and then try venturing further out amongst the stars. Subsea colonization could help us learn how to better colonize other planets though.....

fluidcarl2 karma

Let's say you want to impress a knowledgeable land-side welder. What story would you share?

What's a really massive project you worked on? What tools did you use and how long did it take?

I've heard of equipment to check weld qualities. How do you inspect welds underwater?

I_0nly_downvote2 karma

I have a lot of respect for the work top-side welders do. Our welds subsea are ugly and shitty. You get mass amounts of slag in your weld and you be hard pressed to find a good looking line. I guess if I wanted to try and impress a top-side welder I'd tell you about the time I had to weld around a pipeline in zero-vis going off of nothing but touch and the little light I could see from my arc all while trigger fish are biting at the exposed skin on my wrist! That was a lot of fun!

The largest, most publicized, project I worked on was with an ROV installing the first APL buoy in the Gulf of Mexico. The tools we used were the ROV of course, two massive cranes, and tons of ball-grab joints. The clump weight for the APL bouy was as big as a 3500sqft two story house!!!The installation took about two weeks and we had Nat Geo filming us the entire time which made it a little nerve racking to be honest! It didn't help that my Supervisor at the time was acting like a douche bag and quoting Top-Gun in front of the camera every chance he got!

Subsea to check welds we use mag particle and ultrasonic testing!

karmanaut1 karma

Sorry, but there is nothing in the proof linking those photos to your username. Could you maybe take a picture of some of that equipment along with a sign that says "/u/I_0nly_downvote" or something like that, so we know that these really are your pictures?

I_0nly_downvote5 karma

Yeah I know! How about I take a pic of my dive cert card and put a little paper sign by it?

karmanaut1 karma

That would be great, thanks!

I_0nly_downvote4 karma

I just posted it! Hope it's all good! Sorry that I can't get any pics of equipment, I'm not offshore right now :(

goofymilk2 karma

How good is your internet while you're offshore?

I_0nly_downvote3 karma

Depends where I am. In the Gulf of Mexico it's not too bad. Places like Venezuela or Africa, it's not even worth trying.