New Technical Diving Course debuts in Bali, Indonesia

By Simon A. Gilbert (February 4, 2004)

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) recently launched their much talked about technical diving program "DSAT Tec Deep" in Indonesia. Two Indonesian divers and one Norwegian were the first in the country to complete the program, run by Abyss Adventures dive centre in Bali. Their Instructor, PADI Course Director Jamie Macleod, put them through their nine demanding dives at the USS Liberty shipwreck and the deep walls of Menjangan island. Ingrid Seubert of PADI's Research Department confirmed that these are the first technical diving certifications PADI have issued in this country of 220 million people.

Divers in Bali can now choose from DSAT Tec Deep, Apprentice Tec, and Nitrox and Trimix Gas Blender certifications; all members of the PADI Tec Rec family of programs. These innovative courses go well beyond the world of recreational scuba. Divers successfully completing the Tec Deep course become fully certified technical divers, qualified to conduct decompression dives to a depth of 50m using up to 100% oxygen as a decompression gas. Those not quite ready to go the whole way can warm up with Apprentice Tec; a sub-set of the main Tec Deep course. Apprentice Tec divers are certified to make gas-switch no-stop dives to 40m using air and Enriched Air (Nitrox) up to 60%. Both courses are conducted exclusively with full technical diving kit and double tanks.

The launch of a new product will come as a shot in the arm to the local tourist industry. With the decline in visitor numbers after the 2002 Bali bombing, and the outbreak of SARS last year, Bali has been forced to turn to new ideas to attract more visitors. Scuba Diving has been one of the few growth areas in recent years; there are more than 50 PADI Dive Centers in Bali alone. Bali has two shipwrecks and a variety of deep coral slopes which make it an ideal location for deeper Technical diving. These deeper depths also offer chance encounters with rare and unusual marine creatures. Hammerhead Sharks were sighted on one of the training dives for the course, and even the Oceanic Sunfish has been spotted several times. Recognized by the 'Guinness Book of Records' as the world's largest bony fish, the Oceanic Sunfish (Mola Mola) is seldom seen in shallower waters, much preferring to feed at depth.

Knut Hoff, Abyss Adventures' in-house technical Instructor, believes that technical diving has a bright future in Indonesia. 'The introduction of these courses by PADI,' he says, 'demonstrates that the sport has finally entered the mainstream'. The Tec Rec program is the most recent addition to the range of technical diving programs on offer from the major diving agencies. This endorsement by PADI - the world's largest diving organization - has proved critical in the widespread acceptance of the sport of technical diving. PADI have issued more than 10 million diving certifications over the last 30 years.