Page 12: of Marine Technology Magazine (March 2013)

Instrumentation: Measurement, Processing & Analysis

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Pro leIt started as a basic, grassroots, two-man operation by two friends with an ear for music and a passion for diving. Today, after 43 years of hard work, determination and in- novation, Dominion Diving Ltd., based on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbor, is the largest provider of diving and marine services in Canada, said CEO Robin Lohnes.Robin?s father Barry Lohnes and his business partner Jim Ritcy, members of a 1960?s band, initially struck out with their subsea enterprise in 1969 after Ritcy introduced the senior Lohnes to diving. It was not an instant success. They struggled in the early years and thus maintained other occupations, even working for another diving company until they got a much needed foothold in the business. ?They got word of a wreck that was located off Sable Island,? said Robin, now 37, a  xture in the company since he was 15. ?It was a liberty ship from the Second World War. It was laden with brass and other cargo. They purchased a small wooden boat, about 40-ft. long, took it to Sable Island and pulled up some brass by hand. They made a few of those trips.? Their old wooden boat subsequently sank, leading to the acquisition of a larger 65-ft. wooden vessel equipped with a crane.?So they went back out, and every summer they would work out there, salvaging the brass and cargo. Their methods got more re ned, and then they started locating more wrecks up and down the coast, salvaging propellers, shafts and that sort of thing,? Robin said. It was a total salvage operation until the company could ac- quire the capital to invest in boats and equipment. ?They then became more of a presence in the inshore construction and diving industry,? Robin said, noting that his father and Jim were the company?s only employees for the  rst four or  ve years.As the company progressed, offshore exploration activity off the Nova Scotia coast became more intense, and Dominion Diving began to focus more on the sector. Underwater robotic vehicles, which eliminated restrictions and risk to human divers, were also coming to the market ? a technology which Dominion Diving became involved with. ?They stressed themselves quite heavily to get started with the purchase of their  rst underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV) around 1982. They bought that, and as they continued it blossomed into a real going concern. The company went through a number of different phases,? Robin said. ?We had been using older, traditional diving methods right up until the  xed link (the 12.9 km Confederation Bridge be- tween New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), and began construction in the ?90s (1993-97). Around that time, some of the diving regulations were becoming a bit more strict and de-  ned. That?s when we got into hard hat diving (with mounted cameras) and air hose, which was really the real old fashioned way of diving,? Robin said, citing the advantages of unlimited air and communications not afforded in scuba diving. ?The  xed link was a big job. It changed the company. We employed 60 divers there for three years. We had  ve decom- pression chambers, and then we built a specialized diving sys- tem, a transfer under pressure system with a closed bell to in-crease bottom time. The depth was 130-to-140 ft. in the center (channel) and we were trying to stay longer on the bottom, so we did that with this special system,? he said. During this same period, Dominion was heavily involved in the Newfoundland offshore business. ?We were operating 13 ROVs, three were ultra deep vehicles, 2,000 to 3,000 m rated vehicles. And as always, we continued to do a lot of work at (Halifax) shipyards, laying transmission cables, wharf construction, pipelines,? Robin said. ?We had a pretty heavy  eet of boats and barges. We did a lot of tow- ing and a lot of crane barge lifting. There were periods where people thought our main presence was in the offshore, but our bread and butter has always been in inshore diving and con- struction.? What started as a two-man operation 43 years ago has grown to the largest provid-er of diving & marine services in Canada. March 2013 12 MTRMTR #2 (1-17).indd 12MTR #2 (1-17).indd 123/5/2013 3:55:54 PM3/5/2013 3:55:54 PM

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