British Sub-Aqua Club


British Sub-Aqua Club
BSAC Logo 2017.jpeg
Formation15 October 1953; 68 years ago (1953-10-15)
Legal statusLimited Guarantee Company incorporated in England
PurposeRecreational diving services, training and advocacy
National governing body
HeadquartersUnited Kingdom
Region served
27,002 in 2019
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Maria Harwood[1]
Mary Tetley[2]
Main organ
BSAC Council

The British Sub-Aqua Club or BSAC has been recognised since 1954 by UK Sport 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 diver training organization that operates through its associated network of around 1,100 local, independent diving clubs and around 400 diving schools worldwide. The old logo featured the Roman god Neptune (Greek god Poseidon), god of the sea. The new logo, as of 2017, features a diver with the updated BSAC motto "Dive with us".

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][full citation needed]

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


For earlier events, see Oscar Gugen.


BSAC is recognised by the successors of the Sports Council as the National Governing Body (NGB) for Sub Aqua within the United Kingdom. It has held this status since 1954. 'Sub Aqua' (or Sub Aquatics) is a broad term that includes both recreational underwater activities such as recreational diving and snorkelling, and competitive underwater activities including underwater sports such as Octopush. It is also recognised by Sport England as the NGB for Sub Aqua in England.[3][12]

BSAC is one of three NGBs representing 'Sub Aqua' in the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The others are the Northern Ireland Federation of Sub-Aqua Clubs (Northern Ireland) and the Scottish Sub Aqua Club (Scotland) with the British Sub Aqua Club being the NGB for the United Kingdom as a whole; a role it has held since 1954.[3][12] Wales has been represented by the British Sub Aqua Club since January 2016 when it replaced the Welsh Association of Sub Aqua Clubs.[13]


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

A chart explaining BSAC diving progression.


BSAC currently has five diver qualifications (known as grades). These are:[14]

  • Ocean Diver: Basic skills, non-decompression diving (depth limit 20 m)
  • Sports Diver: Rescue, navigation, nitrox and decompression diving (depth limit increased to 35 m with a series of 5 m progression dives.)
  • Dive Leader: Dive leading, dive planning and management, and rescue management (depth limit increased to 50 m by completing a selection of experience dives.)
  • 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:[15]

  • 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.[16]
  • 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.[17]

CMAS equivalencies

The following CMAS equivalencies have been agreed with the Sub-Aqua Association.[18][19]

CMAS 1 Star Diver BSAC Ocean Diver
BSAC Sports Diver
CMAS 2 Star Diver BSAC Sports Diver with 10 logged dives
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

BSAC also has a range of specialist skill courses known as Skill Development Courses (SDCs):[20]

EUF Certification

BSAC obtained CEN certification from the EUF certification body in 2007 and re-certified in 2012 and 2019 for the following recreational diver grades:[21][22][23]

  • Discovery Diver – ISO 24801-1
  • 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'
  • Nitrox Gas Blender – ISO 13293 – 'Level 1 Gas Blender'
  • Mixed Gas Blender – ISO 13293 – 'Level 2 Gas Blender'
  • Snorkelling Guide – ISO 13970 – 'Snorkelling Guide'

Snorkeller Training Programme

The BSAC has four snorkeller grades:[24]

  • 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.
  • Snorkel Instructor Trainer.

BSAC scuba instructors can also teach all or parts of the STP subject to meeting pre-requisites including additional training.[25]

See also




  • Mary Rose – Carrack-type warship of the English Tudor navy


  1. ^ "BSAC Council". British Sub-Aqua Club. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  2. ^ "BSAC HQ". British Sub-Aqua Club. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Geraint, J.; Campbell, K (1996). Handbook of sports and recreational building design. Vol. 3. Sports Council, Technical Unit for Sport. Architectural Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-7506-2256-3.
  4. ^ Diving Officers Conference 2003
  5. ^ "HRH The Duke of Cambridge takes the lead at BSAC". British Sub-Aqua Club. Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  6. ^ Vallintine, R. The Club: A celebration of the history of the British Sub-Aqua Club 1953-2003. Circle Books. ISBN 978-0-9538919-5-5.
  7. ^ a b c d e f BSAC. "Section 1.1 A Brief History of the British Sub-Aqua Club". BSAC. Archived from the original on 6 September 2007. 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). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  10. ^ a b 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). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  11. ^ "(CMAS / BSAC) The Chronology". Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Sporting activities and Governing Bodies recognised by the Sports Councils" (PDF). UK Sport. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  13. ^ Lawrence, Richard (11 January 2019). "Recognised Governing Body for Sub-Aqua in Wales". Sport Wales. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Diver Grade Training Courses". British Sub Aqua Club. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Instructor progression flowchart". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  16. ^ Sport Diving: The British Sub Aqua Club Diving Manual, 1985, Stanley Paul & Co. London, page 244.
  17. ^ Sport Diving: The British Sub Aqua Club Diving Manual, 1985, Stanley Paul & Co. London, pp. 244–245.
  18. ^ "CMAS Equivalency Cards". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  19. ^ "Club Crossover Guidance Chart Re Equivalent Qualifications" (PDF). Sub Aqua Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 February 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Skill Development Courses (SDCs)". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  21. ^ BSAC HQ (21 May 2018). "BSAC retains EUF accreditations for scuba diver and instructor qualifications". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  22. ^ "EUF Certified Training Systems/Training Organisations". EUF Certification International. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  23. ^ "BSAC EUF accreditation maintained". British Sub-Aqua Club. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  24. ^ "Snorkel Grade Training". BSAC. Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  25. ^ "Become a Snorkelling Instructor". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013.

External links

  • British Sub-Aqua Club - BSAC website
  • BSAC Japan
  • BSAC Korea
  • BSAC Thailand