2020: The Year in Review

Accomplishments in the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Phil Newsum


The ADCI has carried on with full operations despite COVID-19. Our committees and Board of Director meetings have been held virtually, and we continue our progress with the ADCI Audit Initiative, which was suspended in March due to COVID-19. Once the number of cases flatten out and the vaccine is readily available, the association will resume and closeout the initiative.

The year 2020 also saw the development of our new Underwater Ship Husbandry Guidance for Freighters and Cargo Vessels, which has been endorsed and recognized by both the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) and the International Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). The new guidance has been published in the ADCI Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operations (6.3), released in early 2020.

The ADCI and IMCA worked together to improve diver safety with the development of the USCG CG-OES Policy Letter on Commercial Diving Operations – Equivalent Levels of Safety, published in October. The policy letter applies to all USCG regulated vessels and all Coast Guard areas of jurisdiction. The policy letter will improve the level of safety with commercial diving. It is truly an important step in the improvement of diving safety, bearing testament to the hard work put in by both the ADCI and IMCA, the USCG and NOSAC. It means that commercial divers certified by either the ADCI and IMCA, and the diving standards of both associations are formally recognized by the USCG. The ADCI and IMCA worked for over two years to make this happen and is arguably the biggest accomplishment to date of the partnership between ADCI and IMCA.

The ADCI became a member of the International Diving Regulators and Certifiers Forum (IDRCF). The forum is an organization representing a group of national regulatory bodies and selected trade associations on behalf commercial diving.


This year also saw the development of the new and revised subsection of Underwater Lift Bag Operations. This section will be featured in the new International Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operations (6.4), set for release in early 2021. The new edition will also feature guidance on hot water systems, requirements for dive panels/manifolds, and appropriate fittings for dive systems.

The ADCI also developed COVID-19 Guidance for Surface Diving Operations, as well as:

  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 3/12: General Warnings and Information
  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 3/19: General Prevention for the Spread of the Virus
  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 3/24: Guidance for the Sanitization of Commercial Diving Life-Support Equipment
  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 3/26: ADCI Medical Exams vs. COVID-19 Risk
  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 4/14: Extension of KMDSI Technician Certifications due to COVID-19
  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 5/29: UC San Diego Guidelines for Evaluation of Divers during COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Advisory Notice on COVID-19 9/14: ADCI Physicians Diving Advisory Committee; Coronavirus Related Items
    • Introduction
    • Recommendations on Initial and Annual Diver Physicals Exams during the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Re-examination After Illness
    • Face Coverings in the Offshore Environment

The ADCI became a member of the International Diving Regulators and Certifiers Forum (IDRCF). The forum is an organization representing a group of national regulatory bodies and selected trade associations on behalf commercial diving. Founded in 2009, the forum has agreed to work together towards mutual recognition to identify and implement best practices in diver training and assessment with the objective of harmonizing cross-border diver training globally. For over five years, the ADCI has sought recognition with the forum. Since the ADCI developed the INTERNATIONAL ENDORSEMENT surface diving scheme, which is recognized by IMCA, the ADCI met all the stated requirements for inclusion into the Forum. The Forum is comprised of IMCA, HSE UK, South Africa, ADAS, France, Norway, the DCBC, and now the ADCI, representing the U.S. Some of the items discussed at the last IDRCF meeting in November, included:

  • IDRCF Competencies Spreadsheet for Offshore Air Diver Qualification
  • The scope of Dive Center/School Audits
  • Minimum Standards for Equipment and Maintenance in Schools
  • Safety Management and Emergency Planning in Schools

The year 2021 should provide needed relief with the arrival and delivery of the new vaccines for COVID-19. The one thing that we should take away from 2020 is the resilience that our industry displayed and our ability to persevere in a pandemic with the collective and collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.