UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Jeffries, Diving Operations Manager, Oceaneering.
UNDERWATER MAGAZINE: How did you get involved in commercial diving? What are your responsibilities at your current job?
I was hooked on diving at an early age. I grew up on an island in New Jersey and my first job was working on the docks. My parents retired to the Florida Keys while I was in high school. My brother was an early “Tech Diver” as was another family member, Gene Peterson, who still owns a Dive Shop in New Jersey. I love being on the water. After college, and a short stint working for my brothers, I went to dive school. I am the Diving Operations Manager for Oceaneering. The position has a lot of facets to it; the most important of which is keeping the divers safe. It all starts from the end of the hose back to the office.
UM: How have you been involved with ADCI?
I am currently on the Board of Directors with the ADCI and attend meetings. Most conversations are focused on risk management, safety, and getting all the standards aligned.
UM: What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the underwater industry?
The most rewarding part, so far, is the feeling of accomplishment when larger projects are completed. Whether it’s 36 in. tie-ins with multiple flanges and spools that took months to complete with no leaks, or well killing on a mangled mess of a downed platform, the scope of some of these projects can only be appreciated by the men and women that complete them. It’s special teamwork accomplishment. Plus, you meet some interesting people along the way.
UM: What types of issues are most prevalent in the industry now? How would you like to see ADCI approach these?
Today, issues are based on experience; old school versus new school, or no school at all. Experienced people are being forced from the Industry. As pricing for diving services is challenged, the result is additional risk and regression in methodologies. This change then translates to higher risk for divers in the water. The best way for the ADCI to approach this is to hold diving contractors accountable. Alignment with the IMCA is promising because getting some crossover between the organizations will lead to a higher standard worldwide. If the ADCI puts their collective heads together and establishes work practices to which all the ADCI contractors can agree, both onshore and offshore versions, appropriate pricing will follow. Phil has a tough job, but the ADCI is growing and I have every reason to be optimistic that things are getting better.
UM: Where will the industry be in five years?
The industry will still be struggling with its identity, like it was five years ago. I am hopeful that dive schools will close the gap with standards and train divers/tenders to know best practices. I would also tell those new divers to ask questions on day one of the job. Hopefully, dive contractors will be transparent with engineering companies and clients, and share risks and realize costs. Hopefully calling an all-stop or questioning something that appears unsafe is viewed as an asset not a liability.
In five years, commercial diving will still be a pretty cool job.