Before considering the future of diver training, my intention is to take a good look at the past, consider the present, and then follow the trends that appear into the future
The salvage of wreck must be the classic incentive which drives men and to a lesser extent women underwater Throughout history this has been the case, and even the Mary Rose when it first sank in the mid sixteenth century was visited by ‘Venetian’ divers Large bronze cannon which were readily seen or felt, plus coin and jewellery of any description were the lure, much as they still are today
Training was minimal, if not non-existent Equally by its very nature hazardous, exciting, adventurous, crazy, foolhardy, isolated-diving attracted the type of person who would have made classroom discipline a definite challenge to any instructor
The idea of teaching anyone this rather curious occupation probably first came to light with the exploitation of the first designs of the classic standard diving dress by the Royal Engineers in the 183WOs As the relative safety and efficiency of this dress became known, so its formal use developed with the added advantage of being nurtured in a disciplined service
Each modification brought another wave of users, until it was common in military and civilian circles in the UK and many other parts of the world.
The trend tended to be similar in all countries the military had the major need and so developed equipment, techniques and training standards Industry then recruited the majority of their trained personnel from the military, and backed up their knowledge with in-house training when necessary
Two world wars in Europe came and went with very little seeming change However, change there was between the world wars a young French naval diving officer had got together with an engineer and had developed a new piece of diving equipment which gave independence from an umbilical and hinted at a freedom of movement underwater of which all divers dreamed and which only the amahs of Japan and their counterparts all round the World tasted briefly Additionally new materials were becoming available which gave thermal protection without too much clumsiness, and lightness with strength Change was definitely in the wind.
The aqualung as we now know it spread out of Europe, and in the two Gulfs (Arabian and Mexican) the standard dress was threatened for the first time in the 100 years of its history The aqualung, with its limited endurance and telltale bubbles, did not appeal to the military, certainly in Europe But its simplicity and cheapness made it available to the man in the street, and for the first time in history he/she was able to go underwater Before he did, however, he had to be taught something This requirement was in fact taken up by the world of the man in the street itself, and amateur diving training organizations were created by some competent and far-sighted pioneer divers.