The Commercial Diver's Handbook: Surface-Supplied Diving, Decompression, and Chamber Operations Field Guide, 2nd Edition

$39.99 each


Hal Lomax
19 October 2020


For several generations, the U.S. Navy Diving Manual has been considered the Bible of both military and commercial diving, regardless of where in the world these operations were performed. In the past, the U.S. Navy Diver’s Handbook was the go-to source for military and commercial divers when they were in the field and did not wish to carry the complete manual with them. The last official printing of the handbook was in 1994, and after that time there was a desperate requirement for a handbook for the commercial diver.

Originally published in 2013, The Commercial Diver’s Handbook filled that requirement and more. It presented the three most commonly used air decompression tables worldwide, along with mixed gas tables, treatment tables, up-to-date diving medicine, a section on chamber operations, and a section on nitrox operations. Technical editing was performed by CP01 Charles Trombley, Canadian Navy. He was formerly with Canada’s Experimental Diving Unit and later retired as Chief Diver, Fleet Diving Unit, Atlantic.

This second edition of The Commercial Diver’s Handbook has a few changes worth noting. First and foremost is the update of the U.S. Navy Diving Tables from Rev. 6 to 7. Secondly, the size of the book has increased slightly and there is larger print. The decompression tables are now in color for ease of use. As for the chamber medical kits, the handbook now specifies DMAC 15, Revision 4, and the appropriate lists are provided. In addition, the reader will notice other small changes made to keep information current in almost every section, from diving medicine through emergency medical care.

As with the previous edition, this handbook will again prove to be a valuable tool in every commercial diver and supervisor’s possession, no matter where in the world they are working.


Men have strived to work underwater for as long as they have worked on the water. Ports in the Roman Empire employed divers to retrieve cargo lost overboard over two thousand years ago. The Greeks had sponge divers, the Japanese and Arabs had pearl divers, but all of the early divers had one common problem—their bottom time was limited to one breath. In the early 1800s, the Deane brothers and Augustus Siebe created helmets that allowed the diver to breathe air from the surface, and they ushered in a new era of working underwater. Since the mid 1930s, deep diving has been performed using mixed gas, and since it was first used in 1965, saturation diving has become very common. The advances in both technique and equipment within the past 50 years alone are truly remarkable.

One would think an industry able to trace its roots back that far would be developed to a point that an accident would be a rare thing and a fatality would be unheard of. Unfortunately, that is far from the case. Too many accidents occur in this industry that should not happen. Every year there are divers killed for lack of a bailout, killed because machinery is not locked out, killed by differential pressure, killed by improper rigging, and killed while burning unvented tanks. The list continues. Every one of these accidents has one thing in common: they have happened before and should not happen again. We are not learning by our mistakes.

Every diver has must realize that if you can “flange up” a spool piece or install hydra-tights quicker than anyone else on the crew, it will not matter to your family when they are burying you. Life does not have instant replay. If the job you are on is not being run safely, speak up or walk away. It is better to be unemployed and alive than to be a dead “yes man.” Working safely does not cost—it pays.

It is my sincere wish that every diver using this handbook will make a conscious decision to operate safely, to refuse to work in unsafe conditions, and that every last one will enjoy a long retirement. Too many never had the chance. Visit the Divers Association International page, or the Stop Commercial Diver Deaths page on Facebook, the Divers Association section of the forums at www.longstreath,com. Ask your questions or have your say. Together our voices will be heard.


Hal Lomax came from a family of commercial fishermen and had a love for the sea since he was a small boy. He decided on his career at age 5, when his great-uncle, a long-time diver, set a Morse copper helmet over his head. By the age of 10, he was on the fishing boats on weekends with his uncles and grandfather. Before the age of 16, he worked deep sea on the salvage tugs. In the mid-1970s, he worked as a diver, training on the job under ex-military divers as there were no schools yet established in Canada.

He went on to work for many different outfits over the years: on inland hydro dams and power plants, coastal construction and demolition projects, and on offshore salvage, construction, and oil field work. He ran his own diving business for a couple of decades and operated his own school for a time, where he wrote all of the course material and texts. In 2006, Hal went back to work offshore as a free-lance supervisor. He is a founding member of the Divers Association International and currently sits on the board of directors as board member for Canada. Since he hung up his helmet at the end of 2007, Hal works in various locations around the world as a diving superintendent and supervisor.

Hal has written several articles for Underwater Magazine and is the author of the Commercial Diver Training Manual, 6th Edition, also published by Best Publishing Company.

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