The Forest Transporter

Questions being asked about ‘mystery vessel’

Neither a future artificial reef nor a glorified seagull habitat

What the heck is that mystery vessel that’s been floating out in the marina since May?

The question’s been a hot topic this summer, and it finally has an answer.

Neither a future artificial reef nor a glorified seagull habitat, the rather conspicuous 90-foot landing craft is the latest addition to the fleet of local dive company DiveSafe International. The vessel is currently undergoing renovations and will, in fact, become a floating platform from which the dive school will run a number of its courses.

“We needed more space and had been looking for a barge for a number of years,” says Kelly Korol, DiveSafe International’s Director of Training.  “Not only will it be equipped to take on more of our diving equipment, it will enable us to further expand our diving courses and offer our first Unrestricted Surface Supply Diver Program, which focuses on deep dives of more than 200 feet.”

The Forest Transporter, as the vessel was once christened, was requisitioned in 1974 for the Ministry of Forests to move heavy logging equipment up the B.C. coast. It was later sold to MacMillan Bloedel and, more recently, Gemini Marine Transport in Sechelt before DiveSafe International purchased it last year.

Technically not yet a barge, the Forest Transporter will become one once its two big diesel engines are removed. The conversion to diving platform will also include the addition of shipping containers to house a new recompression chamber and an on-board briefing room alongside two staterooms for use during the deep-diving portion of programs. Other additions will include a galley, equipment room, welding workshop, crane and a diving stage (a cage-type elevator that lowers and raises divers).

Korol expects the work to be completed by the end of this year. The barge will be the only vessel of its kind in Canada, further cementing DiveSafe’s reputation as the nation’s premier dive school.

“It’s just another thing that set us apart from other diving programs,” says Korol. “Our goal is always to give students the best possible training and preparation for the commercial diving industry. This barge will give them the real world experience of deep diving in the ocean and all the challenges that brings with it. It’s much more realistic than learning in a lake.”

DiveSafe’s Unrestricted Surface Supply Diver Program, expected to begin early in 2016, will focus on the intricacies of deep dives, typically undertaken during undersea construction and offshore oil work.

An open house and tours of the vessel are planned for spring 2016. To stay in the loop, or for more information on upcoming dive courses, visit www.divesafe.com, call 250-287-3837 or “like” DiveSafe International on Facebook.