Pair of North Sea divers sanctioned for fraud

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said that two offshore commercial divers, both of whom had worked for contractors in the North Sea, had lied about their experience. They, along with the director of a diving company, have been sanctioned.

HSE said they couldn’t be named, at request of Hampshire Police, but revealed that both divers were from the Portsmouth area.

The regulator received word in December 2022 that two divers were suspected of obtaining their closed diving bell qualifications without the right experience.

Police said their closed bell courses cost £15,000 each, and they’ve now been stripped of that without gaining a qualification. Further offences would lead to “severe consequences in the criminal courts”. To work in the UK as a saturation diver, they need an approved qualification from one of two dive schools globally which offer it – INPP in Marseille or the Commercial Dive Academy in Tasmania.

HSE spoke to several UK diving contractors to find whether their claims were genuine.

The director of the diving company which has been sanctioned did not provide records – despite it being a legal requirement for two years after dives, and despite signing the logbook himself.

Inspectors then went to the locations where diving was claimed to have taken place. One diver had forged 10 dives at this location, signed by the director. The other diver only had records for 28 dives, one of which was deeper than 15 metres. He had claimed to have a total of 106 dives, 26 at a depth greater than 15m.

HSE worked with the fraud investigation team of Hampshire Police.

All three men admitted to false logbook entries. They received cautions for fraud by false representation under the Fraud Act of 2006.