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To put it simply, saturation diving allows divers to live on the bottom of the sea for a very long time. By saturating their bloodstream with inert gasses such as helium, these divers eliminate their need to decompress frequently and can withstand extreme durations at great depths.

Since the bloodstream can only handle a certain amount of helium, by saturating themselves divers eliminate their need to surface regularly and lessen their chances of getting the bends.(I highly recommend reading Knifegirl's and ldf's descriptions of the bends to understand the terrifying consequences of decompressing incorrectly) While the bloodstream of a diver is saturated, it cannot take on any more inert gasses, and the body reaches the point of maximum capacity.

In order to keep their bodies saturated, these divers live in Deep Sea Habitats, essentially pressurized cabins on the bottom of the sea. A diver working under saturation diving conditions can reside on the ocean's bottom for months at a time, and in this day and age it is not uncommon. Currently saturation divers are employed by the Comex company to lay oil pipes across the North Sea, and a scientific Deep Sea Habitat called Aquarius exists off the shores of Florida.

During work in the North Sea, saturation divers work shifts of up to 6 hours subsea, and then rest onboard the Diving Support Vessel (DSV) under pressure. The transition from the seabed to the ship is done under pressure inside a dive bell.

The current world depth record is 701 m - though due to the very low oxygen concentration at that depth - not much work was done. Oxygen becomes toxic at high concentration and pressure, and this is one of the issues limiting the depth attainable by saturation diving. In fact, the diver setting the record used half an hour just to write down his current depth on a tablet.

Current legislation allows for dives down to 250 m in the Norwegian sector, and even greater in UK waters.

Even though ROV's have taken over much of the work offshore, current uses for diving in the North Sea include:

Companies that utilize divers in the North Sea include:

* HS and DSND has now merged into "Subsea 7".

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