Saturday, 3 September 2016


I completed my BSAC Advanced Diver back in 2007 and from around 2009 I registered my interest in completing the First Class Diver exams but it wasn’t until last year that I finally pulled my thumb out and started the process.

So what is a First Class Diver?  From the website:

Want to achieve the highest BSAC diver grade?

BSAC's highest diving grade requires a higher than average level of theoretical knowledge, organisational and personal diving skills.  First Class Diver is a very challenging award to achieve.  Since 1953 when the BSAC first formed, only 932* people have qualified as First Class Divers. (*as of 19 October 2011).  BSAC First Class Divers are assessed through nationally conducted examinations.

You must have completed 100 dives in a range of conditions since qualifying as an Advanced Diver, at least 20 of which must show experience of diving to depths greater than 30m.  You must also have:
• Attended a BSAC Chartwork and Position Fixing course (or equivalent).
• Attained the BSAC Diver Rescue specialist qualification (requires FAD, O2, PRM and Adv. Lifesaver).
• Gained the BSAC Diver Coxwain qualification (or equivalent).

Qualification and what that means
The First Class Diver Exam is conducted at a national level and consists of three separate modules that can be taken in any order.  More information on the First Class Diver syllabus
and how to achieve it.

• Theory Knowledge Examination.
• Expedition Plan.
• Practical Diving Assessment (2 Days).

A BSAC First Class Diver is defined as a diver who has:
• A high level of practical diving skills and knowledge beyond that of BSAC Advanced Diver.
• The ability to organise groups of divers and lead major diving expeditions to achieve specific aims or objectives.
• The ability and knowledge to contribute to BSAC developments at a branch, regional and national level.

The Expedition Plan
The Expedition Plan Guidelines which gives a full breakdown of the expedition plan can be found on a downloadable pdf here, however in summary:
• 10-12 divers.
• Nitrox/Trimix (OC/CCR).
• Liveaboard, hardboat or RHIB.
• Minimum 12 recreational dive sites based on 2 dives per day, or 1 dive per day for technical diving.
• Minimum 4 diving days.
• Must include all the information required for the expedition to run smoothly plus all costs (per person).
• The plan must be provisionally agreed with the FCD Chief Examiner and the report should be no longer than 20 pages.

My Plan
My plan was to do a week’s technical diving out of Plymouth with all sites in the 40-60m range.  As well as the guidelines there are a number of examples on BSAC’s website.

Well I obviously failed to read the Expedition Plan Guidelines as my first submission was 42 pages long, not the 20 as requested. 

Bugger.  I deleted any unnecessary pictures, any calculations and any (that I thought) non-essential information.

I finally re-submitted a 25-page document which was accepted. 

The result; a pass.  Basically the only real points that were picked up were wreck protection policy (fair comment), and, and I quote “I could not find a simple timetable for each day. e.g. time for reveille and lights out and the time of slack”.  The slack water comment, fair one, however the timings were in my previous submission but I accidently deleted those with the calculations.  But timings telling someone when to go to bed and wake up?  Seriously?  Again, I did have a timetable in my previous submission but deleted it as that information could be briefed on day one of the trip.

I requested a re-mark as I personally thought the paper was worth a merit, but on the re-mark my submission again came back with a pass.  A merit would have been nice, but a pass is still a pass.

If anyone is interested in working towards their First Class Diver, my submissions can be found here (original submission) and here (revised submission).

Look out for the new instalment; the practical exam.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l

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