Hein van den Ende says there’s no feeling quite like it. Performing saturation dives on oil and gas pipelines sees him descending hundreds of metres below the surface of the ocean in a tiny diving bell. “You’re entering a world that few humans will ever experience and it’s something that I really enjoy.”
Whenever van den Ende learns of an interesting diving assignment, he just checks his Saab schedule and asks for permission from his manager. It´s not a big issue, “I have been with Saab since April 2015 and in July/August 2015, I took time off to do a saturation diving job,” he says. “I’m hoping to complete another before the end of 2016 calendar year.”
A ´Sat Diver´
One of the world’s most dangerous professions, saturation diving is both physically and mentally demanding. Diving to depths of hundreds of metres causes the body to become “saturated” with compressed gas, which can cause harm if divers depressurise too quickly. Saturation diving involves pre-pressurising divers in a special complex on the deck of a boat or rig and sending them deep under water in pressurised diving bells. After completing a shift, the divers return to the surface where they remain under pressure in the complex until it’s time to work again, removing the need to continually depressurise.
Van den Ende worked full-time as a “sat diver” on oil and gas rigs around the world, before accepting his job at Saab. He now works with naval and oil and gas customers, getting to know the needs of their businesses and keeping them informed about the latest Saab products.
Extra knowledge for Saab
Van den Ende brings a wealth of knowledge about the oil and gas industry to Saab. “If anyone else wanted to go out on a rig, they would have to do a unique qualification, get permission to fly out to the rig, and then maybe they would be allowed in the control room,” he says. “But when I’m out on a project, I just get myself a cup of coffee, walk into the control room and have a chat with the guys. I’m seen as one of them.”
Van den Ende says as his responsibilities at Saab grow, his sat diving is likely to take more of a back seat. “When my diving career does come to an end I’ll look back on it with great honour and great pride and know that I’ve achieved something unique.”