UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak Mark Klein, S. T. Hudson Engineers, Inc. and ADCI-OSHA Delta P Task Force SME for sonar and ROV domain awareness at power-generating facilities.
What your responsibilities are at your current job?
I am Project Manager as S.T. Hudson Engineers Inc. I have been fortunate to work in the marine and diving fields full-time since 1987. Starting as a commercial diver for mostly inland type projects, then working through Engineering School and obtaining a BS in Civil Engineering using my field experience to enhance applied engineering and industry developments to a wide range of underwater challenges.
How have you been involved with ADCI?
Over the years, I’ve attended and presented at Underwater Intervention on subjects such as improving underwater inspections and safety using remote sensing methods. Currently acting as an SME for the Delta P Task force to improve divers’ safety, specifically at intakes and power plant facilities.
Can you tell me more about your involvement with the Delta P Task Force and its initiatives?
Yes, it has been very interesting to hear from various perspectives including owners, government agencies and of course, contractors and divers. This is actually a normal position I try to support in meeting the various stakeholders needs on a project as an owners’ representative or project manager. We have been listening to various needs and perspectives from each of the parties on how to reduce fatalities, in an environment that is not easily seen or monitored. Lots of ideas and good work. Most of the time I “Zoom” into a meeting from a job site. My primary activity is to comment and share actual examples of how we have been using sonar methods to see divers, their hoses, their positions, with structural and mechanical images showing conditions pre and during diving activities to improve communication and real time conditions.
One thing that is likely coming in the future is to reduce dive time (not eliminate divers) by improving communications and information. I think divers training and expanding a commercial diver’s familiarity with the ability to use these tools is going to be increasingly beneficial in a competitive market. I sometimes use the analogy of the cell phone: If you think back 10-15 years ago, the idea of having a device that has more information than a local library, with the ability to take video and pictures with amazing detail, and help discuss situations in real-time, was not something everyone would have thought possible. Let alone a routine and daily part of our lives, that even children can use.
Using remote sensing devices for part of a project (especially when Delta P is a concern) will eventually be commonplace and not as threatening or a “magical” tool that will be included more routinely.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the industry?
Being a “grunt diver” first and having the benefit of meeting so many different owners, divers and contractors, I will always enjoy the little “jaw drop,” or appreciation from the field people on bringing something new or clarity to their project or perspective. With the most rewarding part making it easier to the point they ask for the methods or information again knowing that it makes their work safer or more productive.
What types of issues are most prevalent in the industry now?
We have always been in a competitive and aggressive field. Time and budget pressures are a major challenge. New owners and turnover are a challenge. Getting all the stakeholders to evaluate and apply the best methods without fear or knowing how to communicate the benefits of trying something new is hard. Funny part is, projects usually are more cost effective and safer when a few steps are taken early or at the right time. However new things (such as sonar imaging) are often considered an additional hurdle to avoid if possible.
How would you like to see ADCI approach these issues?
We are hopefully going to provide via the task force resources to not only have better check lists for owners, divers, and contractors to use, but also some training, information via the internet and possibly a list of approved support personnel to help everyone evaluate and communicate our underwater situations and domains better.
Where will the industry be in 5 years?
We should be making steps forward in sharing issues and helping those topside see what is really going on below the waterline with higher degrees of detail.