Don’t Worry, Next Week. I Promise…

chris gabel

Equipment maintenance should be part of your routine. Have you heard those words before from your maintenance tech, diver or supervisor about your equipment? I was surfing the internet recently and came across a great sign. The sign stated: “WARNING: If you don’t schedule maintenance, your equipment will schedule it for you.” No truer words have been said.

There are many days that the phone rings and I have a panicked diver or project manager who needs a piece of equipment serviced or parts for something that needs to be in the field for a project, like yesterday. We try to accommodate the request the best way we can, but we haven’t been able to find a functional Flux Capacitor on eBay to get us to the day before yesterday so that we can have the gear ready or part sent yesterday.

How can we all collectively solve, or at least keep this issue to a minimum? Well, scheduling equipment downtime is the first step. I understand that can’t always be done with unscheduled emergency work being thrown in the mix. Here at Ocean Eye, Inc., we implemented an equipment database. We use this database to alert our clients that we’ve done work for in the past that their gear is going to be due for inspection both at the 60-day and 30-day mark. A “heads up” that something needs to be done. The idea is to keep the surprises down to a minimum for both parties. Does this always work? Well, no. It seems to be the best method to get the stuff that needs to be looked at on the radar. That said, we still sometimes get the panic phone call and when I ask if they received our reminder emails, the other side of the line goes silent. It’s all good, let’s try harder next time, right?

If you aren’t comfortable with the thought of administrating a database, you can always defer to a spreadsheet or detailed notes with dates on notebook paper. The US Navy uses what they call a PMCS log. For those who don’t speak government abbreviation, it stands for Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services. Basically, it just means a log that contains what needs to be done on a daily, monthly and annual basis. You can always set up a log in your dive locker with the maintenance schedule and when the gear you have was last serviced.

The next bit of advice that I can give you if scheduling has been an ongoing headache is to implement an N +1 equipment plan. If that sounds foreign or like some kind of magical NASA formula, it’s not. It just means that you have equipped yourself with the gear you need and a standby backup piece for break downs and maintenance. N represents the gear you’re using and the + 1 is your backup. So, if you need two dive helmets, have three in your inventory so that you have a rotating backup for the maximum amount of availability. Not everyone has a budget that can afford to have a spare Quincy 325 compressor on standby, which is why preplanning and scheduling downtime is so important. Please remember that the +1 piece needs to be maintained as well. I’m not sure if there is anything more embarrassing than when your redundant gear doesn’t work.



Not everyone has a budget that can afford to have a spare Quincy 325 compressor on standby, which is why preplanning and scheduling downtime is so important.

Following the above recommendations can help to get and keep your maintenance schedule on track, reduce the “OH SH@!” factor to a minimum and keep your equipment ready for the next emergency or big project. Dive Safe.

Please Ask!

In future issues, I would like to continue from time to time addressing your questions. I’d like you to send in some maintenance questions that you want to have answered. You’re the reason that these articles are written, so I want to work on subject matter that you are interested in. Send your questions to me via email at or you can snail mail them to me at:

Ocean Eye, Inc.

C/O Chris Gabel 471 Fairview Chapel Rd.

Birdsboro, PA 19508

Chris Gabel is the president of the award-winning veteran-owned company Ocean Eye, Inc. Chris works with companies and government entities to create safer and more profitable environments. Chris’ articles on commercial diving equipment and safety have been featured in several different industry magazines and translated into multiple languages. He is a member of the ADCI Dive Safety Committee and has himself been diving since 1988.