Aberdeen hyperbaric centre sold to James Fisher

NHC's services include the reception of personnel for decompression. Picture: Contributed
NHC's services include the reception of personnel for decompression. Picture: Contributed
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THE National Hyperbaric Centre (NHC) in Aberdeen was sold to engineering and shipping firm James Fisher & Sons yesterday in a deal worth up to £4.5 million, in a busy day for Aberdeen’s offshore industry.

Previous owner David Smith, who will step down as managing director, will receive an initial £3.5m in cash, plus a potential £1m “earn-out” based on specific future contracts up to 31 March, 2016.

NHC operates hyperbaric testing chambers which are used for testing equipment for the subsea industry.

Its services include reception of personnel for decompression, subsea equipment testing, training services to the diving industry and hyperbaric welding trials to customers worldwide. It also operates a hyperbaric chamber for patients of NHS Grampian.

Mike Howarth, managing director of JFD, the division of James Fisher that is taking over the centre, said: “I am delighted with the acquisition of NHC, which further extends our range of services to the subsea industry and consolidates our world leading position in the design, manufacture, testing and operation of hyperbaric reception facilities and other subsea equipment.”

The deal came as Dutch-based inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) specialist N-Sea also ratcheted up its presence in the city, launching its third diving support vessel.

It said the £1.5m Edradour will “be immediately utilised” in the firm’s IMR operations in the North Sea, as well as in Holland and Germany.

Similar to its sister vessel, the Aberlour, the Edradour can work in areas around offshore vessels, platforms and mobile offshore drilling units where diving support vessels have limited access for maintenance and surveys.

It will be used as a specialist diving and intervention craft for the inspection of subsea structures, light construction works, debris removal, special periodic surveys (SPS) and inshore harbour survey work.

N-Sea chief operating officer Roddy James said: “We are proud to have added the Edradour to our increasing fleet of dive support and specialist intervention vessels; it represents the next generation of craft in terms of safety, capability and reliability.

“N-Sea’s key objective is to produce safe, sound and swift solutions and the Edradour ensures our fleet will continue to exceed the expectations of our clients within the offshore subsea industry.”

Meanwhile, Optimus, the Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering consultancy business, announced it had just experienced the best ten-week period in its 15-year history, after turning over contracts worth more than £5m.

The business wins have seen its chargeable man hours surge by more than 50 per cent.