Winter 2016

Under the surface with: Doug Austin

JFD has boosted its leading position in the saturation diving systems market with a multi-million pound contract with Chinese company, Shanghai Salvage.

We meet Doug Austin who headed up negotiations for the project.

Doug Austin.jpg

Tell us a bit about yourself

My background is in business development - I am a graduate of Aberdeen University with a degree in English and I got my first job with Divex in the UK in 1987. In 1998 I emigrated to Australia as a part owner of a new Australian diving equipment company, and then rejoined Divex in 2003 to open the Divex Asia Pacific office in Perth. I ran that section until Divex was bought by James Fisher in 2013 and became part of the hugely successful JFD.

What's your current role?

I am now Asia Pacific director of JFD, responsible for development of the business in the whole region. My role is to form and develop close relationships with both commercial and government clients here, and to look for opportunities for JFD to provide technical solutions to clients' needs. The region is growing rapidly, and a significant part of JFD's order book is generated in Asia Pacific. As part of that brief, I teamed up with JFD commercial director, John Paul McCarroll to further relationships with Shanghai Salvage - one of the biggest professional salvage companies in China.

James Fisher recently acquired a Singapore-based saturation diving company called Lexmar, and more recently its technical director Martin Hardy joined me in the negotiations alongside JFD technical authority and project manager Jamie Watson.

What's the background to the Shanghai story?

Back in 2009 Divex Asia Pacific built a 12-man, 300m saturation diving system for Shanghai Salvage. This system has operated very successfully and was deployed in the Chinese record deep dive in 2014. 

We maintained close contact with Shanghai Salvage throughout this time and discussions around a larger 500m system began three to four years ago. Over time, the specifications have been developed and requirements clarified and this has now resulted in a £35million contract to design, manufacture and install a 24-man saturation diving system capable of reaching depths of 500m.

What's so exciting about this contract?

The system is unique in several respects. With a 500m depth rating, it will be the deepest diving system delivered anywhere in the world in the last 25 years, the deepest diving system in China, and the largest portable diving system ever built.

JFD's track record in the successful delivery of deep diving systems was key to Shanghai Salvage's confidence in us and our ability to meet the challenges of this exciting project.

What does the future hold?

This contract is the result of several years' business development in the Chinese market, and we hope it will further strengthen our presence in the region and ensure China as a significant market for JFD in the future. In fact, we have recently entered into a joint venture agreement with a Chinese diving equipment manufacturer to form a company called Wuhu Divex Diving Systems Ltd which will consolidate our position in China and enable JFD to fully capitalise on future opportunities there.

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