Repairing the West Pier structure

Diver working on the West Pier underwater structure
Photograph by Sean Clark

The sort of work we were doing was strengthening Pier legs by attaching jackets, which are metal encasements around the piles.

This is a shot of another diver bolting up a jacket. They’re about three metres high, these jackets – they’re huge. Because you’re relatively weightless underwater, you can jump up three metres easily.

On a commercial dive team, there are a minimum of five divers on the boat. Only one diver dives at a time. The others are all back-up.

A second diver is a stand-by, dressed in same equipment, holding the diving helmet in his lap. Then you have guys on the surface who attend the diver’s umbilical – because it’s about 75-100 metres long. Underneath the Pier, it’s a junkyard, full of razor-sharp lumps of metal. If you imagine walking through a junkyard, in very poor visibility, towing a 75 metre rope, it gives you an idea… you have to keep an eye on the umbilical.

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