Salvage Divers: Protecting the Environment and More
While salvage divers provide the important function of retrieving investments that have been lost underwater, they also protect the environment by stopping fossil fuels and other hazardous materials from leaching into the environment. Often first responders to incidents with the potential to pollute vast areas, these divers are trained and equipped to contain a stricken vessel’s fuel, oil, and other pollutants so that they do not contaminate the marine ecosystem.
Once immediate hazards have been contained, sometimes with the help of HAZMAT Divers, salvage divers can focus on raising an entire vessel or simply work to save some of the most valuable components so that they can be reused or recycled. In some cases, salvage divers transform accidental wrecks into artificial reef environments, opening spaces and reducing hazards so recreational divers can enjoy them safely while marine life takes hold.
Not only do these divers work with salvaging boat and ship wrecks, they respond to cars that crash off bridges and roadways into aquatic environments, and they respond to aircraft wrecks. In many cases, part of the service they provide includes retrieving human remains for burial, providing an important sense of closure for loved ones left behind. Highly qualified and equipped with the best equipment possible, these divers are often responsible for finding recreational divers who have succumbed to accidents and delivering their bodies back to the surface.
In cases where sunken property cannot be retrieved, salvage divers often provide investigators, insurers and policy holders with valuable video and still documentation of wrecks which can provide valuable clues as to how an accident happened.
In addition, salvage divers often play an important role in marine archaeology, aiding with the safe retrieval of historic shipwrecks and components from wrecks. Normally employed by companies that own boats equipped with special equipment to make salvage easier and safer, experienced salvage divers command excellent wages, often earning more than $50 USD per hour.
Becoming a Salvage Diver
As you might imagine, training to become a salvage diver is extensive and intense. These divers often use cutting and welding equipment, move heavy items underwater, and are subjected to hazards far greater than even the most experienced recreational diver will ever encounter. Commercial diving schools offer complete courses in salvage diving, along with courses in related careers, such as HAZMAT and nuclear diving. Finding a job once you have completed the coursework is not normally difficult; however, you may end up relocating and you may have to travel to various sites for salvage operations. While diving experience is desirable and will help you as you embark on the career, most schools require only that applicants have a high school diploma and the ability to pass a diving physical.
Once basic requirements are met, students can take a short course designed to provide entry-level commercial diver certification, or move forward with an accredited two-year college degree program. There are various programs between the two extremes which can take anywhere from a few months to a year to complete.
Much different from recreational diving, this is a fascinating career with long workdays and sometimes long stints at sea. It is physically demanding and requires sharp mental faculties; yet it is rewarding. Salvage divers enjoy their work, thanks to plenty of opportunities for adventure and a sense of camaraderie that might be missing from your current workplace. If you’re ready for a change of pace, look into training; in as little as a few months, you might have a whole new career.