Boats used for diving range from kayaks and canoes to large, specialized vessels that support deep and saturation diving. The facilities required depend on the nature of the diving, but there are minimum requirements. In some conditions, a second safety boat or tender may be needed. Divers may need to be picked up after drifting away from the main vessel.
Propellor guards, or a safe propulsion system such as a water jet, is desirable if there is any chance that the engine will be engaged during diving operations.
A diving platform or ladder is needed on most boats to facilitate the diver’s return from the water. Consideration should be given to the recovery of an unconscious or incapacitated diver, which is ideally done with the diver positioned horizontally. This can be very difficult with both large and small boats, and an appropriate system should be established and practised. Recovery into an inflatable craft is often an easier alternative because the diver can be dragged, rather than lifted, into the boat. Also, the softer air-filled hull is less likely than a rigid hull to injure a diver.
Diving flags, lights or other signals as required by the local maritime regulations should be available. These are designed to warn boat operators to slow down or keep clear. In some places they can offer legal, if not physical, protection from the antics of other craft. Unfortunately, in many places the flag is not recognized or is ignored, and in most areas ‘boat propeller attacks’ cause more deaths than shark attacks.
The first aid kit and emergency medical equipment should be chosen depending on local hazards and the distance from assistance.