C-Dive skips the conversion, opts for newbuild in the Gulf

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In a time of sluggish activity in the Gulf of Mexico oil field, C-Dive’s new dive boat, DSV 217, is busy and rarely in port. Besides adding a new hull during a severe industry downturn, the Houma, La.-based company also broke with tradition by building a dive vessel from the keel up.

“Most four-point sat (saturation dive support) boats in the Gulf of Mexico are OSV conversions,” said C-Dive founder and CEO Robert Champagne, who designed the 185-foot vessel with local marine architects Tommy Parfait and Dan Duplantis. “By constructing a newbuild, we were able to design the DSV to fit its purpose.”

For example, instead of converting an offshore supply vessel’s below-deck tankage to machinery spaces, C-Dive designed and built them into the new boat. The designers also expanded the beam to 44 feet for more stability during dive operations, and provided generous accommodations and a clear aft deck of 65 by 44 feet. All of the staterooms are on the main deck, along with galley, laundry and storage areas. The vessel was built by A&B Industries of Amelia, La., and delivered in the spring of 2017.

“The 217 is the newest by far of only three four-point saturation dive support vessels operating in the Gulf,” said Chris Hale, project manager for C-Dive.

Saturation superintendent Mark Miedecke mans DSV 217’s dive control room, which houses the boat’s surface dive station and winch operations.

The vessel’s primary mission is supporting pipeline and riser projects to a depth of 1,000 feet. Its scope of operations includes new installations, pipeline abandonments, leak repairs, platform removal assistance, platform inspections, drill support, debris removal and well plugging.

In order to conduct such a breadth of tasks, a good deal of gear populates the aft deck. The built-in dive equipment includes a dive control system; decompression chambers; a 12-foot moon pool; a six-man, 1,000-foot saturation diving system; and a hyperbaric rescue chamber. An EBI 30-ton telescoping boom crane towers over it all.

The diver control center houses the winch control panel (WCP), the life support technician (LST) and panel for saturation dive operations, and the surface dive station. Four-point mooring is performed from the WCP utilizing two Amcon double-drum winches located on the port and stern upper deck. Each winch deploys a bow and stern anchor.

Champagne said the other operating four-point saturation DSVs in the Gulf were built more than 35 years ago, and he felt it was time for a purpose-built DSV designed to address the more exacting safety, financial and operational considerations of today’s clients. At the same time, DSV 217 provides offshore personnel with first-class working and living conditions.

Champagne said that C-Dive is focused on becoming the industry leader by staying relevant and concentrating on safety, quality and customer satisfaction. Building DSV 217 when the majority of oil field support vessels were being cold-stacked goes a long way toward that goal. It was a bold move, but a move that is paying off.


Each of the dive boat’s Amcon double-drum winches is wound with 5,200 feet of 1-1/8-inch wire for four-point mooring.


The pilothouse features an array of displays and controls within an easy arm’s reach of the operator.


Crewman Louis Santana guides the midship mooring line as DSV 217 docks in Houma, La.


Little space goes unused on the boat’s busy aft deck, which caters to a wide range of dive support operations in the Gulf oil field.


DSV 217 specifications

Owner/operator: C-Dive, Houma, La.
Designer/builder: C-Dive/A&B Industries, Amelia, La.
Dimensions: L: 185’ W: 44’ D: 8’ (light)
Crew size: Five
Total accommodations: 43

• (2) Cummins QSK38 main engines, 1,000 hp each
• Twin Disc gears, 4:1 ratio
• (2) Cummins QSB7 200-kW gensets

• (2) Amcon double-drum anchor winches, 5,200 feet of 1-1/8-inch wire per drum
• EBI 30-ton hydraulic telescoping boom crane
• (4) Flipper Delta 6,600-pound anchors
• Palfinger fast rescue boat

• (2) Cummins QSB11 dive launching engines
• (2) Cummins QSL9 jet pump engines
• (2) Cummins QSK7 winch engines
• Beier Radio communications


By Professional Mariner Staff