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National Facility for Scientific Diving

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Scientific diving is an important tool for coastal marine science, and the National Facility for Scientific Diving at SAMS supports the UK's interdisciplinary marine research all over the world, from ice-covered oceans to tropical coral reefs. Depending on project requirements the NFSD provides divers, equipment, training and/or scientific/technical support to diving-related underwater scientific projects. The NFSD is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

The NFSD includes...

  • an NHS-registered emergency hyperbaric unit
  • an HSE accredited diving school
  • an RYA accredited small boat school
  • the NERC Scientific Diving equipment pool


As the UK's main coordinating body for scientific diving the NFSD...

  • delivers an extensive underwater research programme
  • supports the UK Scientific Diving Supervisory Committee
  • interacts with other diving industry bodies
  • conducts diving research
  • evaluates scientific diving
  • works to ensure that in the UK scientific diving adheres to all relevant Health and Safety legislation
  • provides focussed training programmes for scientists and technicians involved with working underwater


For more details, please visit


Scientific Diving

Our team employs a range of techniques in support of underwater scientific investigations including...

  • Underwater photography and videography
  • Static underwater video for longer term deployments
  • Specimen collection
  • In situ measurement
  • Underwater survey
  • Benthic coring
  • Coral coring
  • Equipment deployment and maintenance


Wanting to access the NFSD?

The Facility may support any organisation conducting research undertaken under the Scientific and Archaeological Approved Code of Practice under the 1997 Diving at Work Regulations.

Applicants can apply for support for some or all of the following:

  • training courses
  • diving support (to include the provision of a whole diving team if required)
  • project management
  • equipment loans

To access support you will need to fill in an application form - currently on an ongoing basis - for a research project that is considered to be of scientific merit. More...



The NFSD has waterside aspect with immediate access to the water via the SAMS' own slipway and pontoon. We have access to the Institute's research vessels and our own dive boats (two RIBS, one Dory). Our base includes a classroom with PowerPoint and overhead projectors and video equipment, changing rooms with a drying cabinet and showers and lockers.

The Facility maintains equipment to support

  • Open circuit SCUBA air diving
  • Open and semi-closed mixed gas
  • SCUBA diving
  • Full face mask with hard wire voice communications
  • Underwater video and still photography (digital and analog - including HD) with editing suite



Meet the NFSD team
Our contact details

Scientific Diving

National Facility for Scientific Diving (NFSD)


T: +44 (0) 1631 559 000

F: +44 (0) 1631 559 001

Scottish Marine Institute

Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK

Contact us
Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA
T: 01631 559000
F: 01631 559001