UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Peter Sieniewicz, IMCA Technical Advisor (Diving).
UNDERWATER MAGAZINE: How did you get involved in commercial diving?
I was born and raised in Montreal and started sports diving in the 1970s in Canada and drifted into commercial diving around the Lake Ontario area, and then moved to England, initially as an underwater cameraman. I stayed in England working as a commercial diver and also in a diver training school in Plymouth on the southwest coast. I eventually drifted into salvage diving and the rest is history.
UM: How have you been involved with ADCI?
It’s been a big year for IMCA and ADCI. When I previously worked for a commercial diving school, there were always issues with American and worldwide standards. I opened up a discussion with Phil, and we started looking at ways to overcome some of the hurdles that had been faced by ADCI worldwide and see if we could come up with some solutions—last year we managed to do that. We came up with the international endorsement, which means they are running the same standards, but they are including the deep, depth diving as part of the international requirements. We are also working with ADCI and the US Coast Guard to resolve some legislation issues. It’s been quite an exciting time for both IMCA and ADCI, and we see a lot of opportunities for the future as well.
UM: What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the underwater industry?
I’ve had quite a varied career. I worked for the UK government as a health and safety diving inspector so I’ve seen a lot of the sad side of the industry, and investigated a lot of accidents. Some of the rewarding bits—IMCA released a new app, which provides a way to engage with diving supervisors and keep them current. I’m very pleased with it.
UM: What issues are most prevalent in the industry now?
Frustrations with clients, frustrations with contractors. The not-level playing field, which is ongoing. People cutting corners, which leads to incidents/accidents, and I get very frustrated by that, and I see it as a problem for the industry—the drive for bottom dollar. Bottom dollar doesn’t mean best quality. If we can get the balance right between safety, quality and price, then it’s worthwhile doing. There are always people who will cut corners to make more money, but the price of getting it wrong in diving can be catastrophic.
UM: Where will the industry be in five years?
Within Europe, the wind farm industry offshore is phenomenal. The largest country producing offshore wind power is Great Britain, and Holland and Germany are second. At certain points, England has been generating more than 50% of its power requirements by alternative energy sources. The largest on-land alternate energy producer is the US, but it still has yet to explore the offshore industry. However, I believe the US is going to find an explosion in offshore wind energy, and that’s going to be a big market, which will initially involve divers for construction. The future here in the US is alternate energy, and that’s going to be a big market, which will help the diving industry grow.