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British Sub-Aqua Club

British Sub-Aqua Club
Abbreviation BSAC
Motto Dive with friends
Formation 15 October 1953 (1953-10-15)
Type NGO
Legal status Limited Guarantee Company incorporated in England
Purpose Recreational diving services, training and advocacy
National governing body
Headquarters United Kingdom
Region served
over 50,000 members at its peak in the mid-1990s declining to over 30,000 in 2009
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Eugene Farrell[1]
Mary Tetley[2]
Main organ
BSAC Council
Affiliations EUF
Website .com.bsacwww

The British Sub-Aqua Club or BSAC has been recognised since 1954 by the Sports Council as the national governing body of recreational diving in the United Kingdom.[3]

The club was founded in 1953 and at its peak in the mid-1990s had over 50,000 members declining to over 30,000 in 2009. It is a Neptune (Greek god Poseidon), god of the sea.

BSAC is unusual for a diver training agency in that most BSAC instructors are volunteers, giving up their spare time to train others, unlike many other agencies, in which instructors are paid employees, or self-employed.

Given that UK waters are relatively cold and have restricted visibility, BSAC training is regarded by its members as more comprehensive than some. Specifically it places emphasis on rescue training very early in the programme. BSAC also maintains links with other organisations, such as NACSAC.

Science writer and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke was a famous member of BSAC.[4]

The current President of BSAC is the Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. His grandfather, Philip, father, Charles, and his brother, Harry all trained with BSAC.[5]


  • History 1
  • Qualifications 2
    • Diver Training Programme 2.1
      • Diving 2.1.1
      • Instructing 2.1.2
      • Grades no longer awarded 2.1.3
      • CMAS equivalencies 2.1.4
      • Skill development/specialities 2.1.5
      • EUF Certification 2.1.6
    • Snorkeller Training Programme 2.2
  • See also 3
    • Diving theory and technique 3.1
    • Organizations 3.2
    • People 3.3
    • Diving destinations 3.4
    • Wrecks 3.5
  • References 4
  • External links 5


For earlier events, see Oscar Gugen.


The BSAC has offered two separate training schemes since the 1950s - the Diver Training Programme (DTP) for scuba diving and the Snorkeller Training Programme (STP) for snorkelling.

Diver Training Programme


BSAC currently has five diver qualifications (known as grades). These are:[12]

  • Ocean Diver - Basic skills, non-decompression diving (depth limit 20 m)
  • Sports Diver - Rescue, navigation, nitrox and decompression diving (depth limit 35 m after qualification)
  • Dive Leader - Dive leading, dive planning & management, and rescue management (depth limit 50 m after qualification)
  • Advanced Diver - Fully trained diver capable of leading a group of divers in normal club activities
  • First Class Diver - Trained to lead a group of dives carrying out a project. This is nationally examined with a two-day practical test


BSAC has eight instructor grades:[13]

  • Assistant Diving Instructor - Trained but unqualified. Must be supervised when instructing
  • Theory Instructor - Qualified to instruct unsupervised in the classroom
  • Assistant Open Water Instructor - Qualified to teach open water under supervision
  • Practical Instructor - Qualified to instruct unsupervised in open water
  • Open Water Instructor - Qualified to supervise other instructors in classroom and open water training
  • Advanced Instructor - Trained to teach advanced skills, such as boat based skills and group diving techniques
  • Instructor Trainer - Qualified to staff Instructor events
  • National Instructor - Leads Instructor Training courses and BSAC National exams

Grades no longer awarded

The following grades which are no longer awarded may still be encountered:

  • Novice I - A diver who has completed the extensive sheltered-water (i.e. pool) training of the BSAC syllabus of the time, but has not yet dived in open water.
  • Novice II - A Novice I diver who has completed two open-water assessment dives.

The distinction between Novice I and Novice II was mostly for practical reasons to do with the difference between hiring a pool and travelling to the coast. A Novice I diver would normally complete the two open-water dives as soon as possible, but if this were not possible straight away (perhaps over winter) they would at least have a specific grade within the club. The lengthy and club-oriented Novice syllabus was replaced with the Club Diver and Ocean Diver syllabuses in the late 1990s. (However, some argue the Novice description was usefully accurate and aided diver safety because nobody with such a qualification would attempt dives beyond their capabilities.)

  • Club Diver - This is more or less the same as Ocean Diver; originally the two were operated in parallel with Ocean Diver awarded at schools and Club Diver at clubs.
  • Club Instructor - An instructor grade junior to Open Water Instructor, but allowing the holder to instruct practical and theory lessons without supervision.
  • Third Class Diver - This was the entry-level grade prior to the splitting of its syllabus during the mid-1980s to create the Novice and Sports Diver grades. Divers who held this grade at the time were awarded the Sports Diver grade.[14]
  • Second Class Diver - This was the immediate grade prior to the splitting of its syllabus during the mid-1980s to create the Dive Leader and Advanced Diver grades. Divers who held this grade at the time were awarded the Advanced Diver grade.[15]

CMAS equivalencies

The following CMAS equivalencies have been agreed with the Sub-Aqua Association.[16][17]

CMAS 1 Star Diver BSAC Ocean Diver, Club Diver or Sports Diver
CMAS 2 Star Diver BSAC Sports Diver with 10 logged dives or BSAC Dive Leader
CMAS 3 Star Diver BSAC Advanced Diver
CMAS 4 Star Diver BSAC First Class Diver
CMAS 1 Star Instructor BSAC Club Instructor + BSAC Advanced Diver
CMAS 2 Star Instructor BSAC Open Water Instructor + BSAC Advanced Diver
CMAS 3 Star Instructor BSAC Advanced Instructor + BSAC Advanced Diver

Skill development/specialities

The BSAC also has a range of specialist skill courses known as Skill Development Courses (SDCs):[18]

EUF Certification

The BSAC obtained CEN certification from the EUF certification body in 2007 and re-certified in 2012 for the following scuba diver grades:

  • Ocean Diver - EN 14153-2/ISO 24801-2 - 'Autonomous Diver
  • Dive Leader - EN 14153-3/ISO 24801-3 - 'Dive Leader'
  • Open Water Instructor - EN 14413-2/ISO 24802-2 - 'Instructor Level 2'
  • Sports Diver - ISO 11107 – ‘Nitrox diving’
  • Gas Blender - ISO/DIS 13293 'Gas Blender'[19][20]

Snorkeller Training Programme

The BSAC has four snorkeller grades:[21]

  • Dolphin Snorkeller - experience based training intended for children using only swimming pools.
  • Snorkel Diver - training for pool or sheltered water activity.
  • Advanced Snorkeller - training for open water activity.
  • Snorkel Dive Manager - training to plan, organise and lead snorkelling activities.

The STP has three snorkel instructor grades: Snorkel Instructor, Advanced Snorkel Instructor and Snorkel Instructor Trainer. BSAC scuba instructors can also teach all or parts of the STP subject to meeting pre-requisites including additional training.[22]

See also

Diving theory and technique



Diving destinations



  1. ^ "BSAC Council". British Sub-Aqua Club. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "BSAC HQ". British Sub-Aqua Club. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Geraint, J.; Campbell, K; Sports Council, Technical Unit for Sport (1996). Handbook of sports and recreational building design 3. Architectural Press. p. 191.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ "HRH The Duke of Cambridge takes the lead at BSAC". British Sub-Aqua Club. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  6. ^ Vallintine, R. The Club: A celebration of the history of the British Sub-Aqua Club 1953-2003. Circle Books.  
  7. ^ a b c d e BSAC. "Section 1.1 A Brief History of the British Sub-Aqua Club". BSAC. Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "C.M.A.S.". Luigi Ferraro's official site. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Adkisson, G (1991). "The BS-AC ’88 decompression tables". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal 21 (1).  
  10. ^ Allen, C (1996). "BSAC gives the OK to nitrox. reprinted from Diver 1995; 40(5) May: 35-36.". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal 26 (4).  
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Diver Grade Training Courses". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Instructor progression flowchart". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Sport Diving: The British Sub Aqua Club Diving Manual, 1985, Stanley Paul & Co. London, page 244.
  15. ^ Sport Diving: The British Sub Aqua Club Diving Manual, 1985, Stanley Paul & Co. London, pages 244 & 245.
  16. ^ "CMAS Equivalency Cards". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Club Crossover Guidance Chart Re Equivalent Qualifications," (PDF). Sub Aqua Association. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  18. ^ "Skill Development Courses (SDCs)". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "EUF Certified Training Systems/Training Organisations". EUF Certification International. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  20. ^ "BSAC EUF accreditation maintained". British Sub-Aqua Club. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  21. ^ "Snorkel Grade Training". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  22. ^ "Become a Snorkelling Instructor". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 

External links

  • British Sub-Aqua Club - BSAC main site
  • British Sub-Aqua Club - BSAC Travel Club
  • British Sub-Aqua Club - BSAC Snorkelling
  • BSAC Japan
  • BSAC Korea
  • BSAC Thailand
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