Harken Industrial purchase systems used for incapacitated diver recovery operations

Diver recovery system in useAberdeen-based subsea construction and offshore operational and maintenance support company uses the Harken Industrial 6:1 purchase system for recovery of incapacitated divers.


Commercial marine/oil and gas industries


Harken Industrial’s diver recovery purchase system is used by the saturation diving industry to retrieve and transfer subsea divers into and between pressurized vessels.

About the client

The client provides subsea capabilities and services to the energy industry. The fleet includes a range of multipurpose and support vessels, ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle), and also offers diving, survey, project management, and engineering services.


The saturation diving industry required a solution that allowed the singlehanded recovery of an incapacitated diver (or regular diver) from the restricted operating area inside a diving bell. Harken’s task was to develop a system to replace an existing recovery product that had failed to deliver the performance required.


Working closely with the client and other members of the IMCA Work Group, the Industrial Tech Team, developed a strong, lightweight block and tackle system with a powerful 6:1 purchase. With the system attached to an overhead anchorage point inside the diving bell, the bell man then secures the lower block to the incapacitated diver’s recovery harness. This allows the bell man to lift and guide a fully-suited, subsea diver out of the water and into the bell with ease, control, and a significant reduction in recovery time. Utilizing a ratchet to provide greater descent control and safety, the tackle system can also control the descent of a diver through the hatch into the water or a lower chamber.

Why was a 6:1 purchase system recommended/used

This purchase system was recommended because it is strong, lightweight, reasonably priced, and allows singlehanded operation in a confined work space.

Benefits of the solution

The 6:1 purchase system is based on proven Harken marine components.  Harken worked closely with the client during the entire design process, resulting in a strong, lightweight product eminently suited to the role and functionality that was asked for.

What is the lifespan of the system?

Based on the maintenance and service regime suggested by the service manual, the purchase system has a maximum lifespan of three (3) years. It should then be removed from service and destroyed, or returned to the manufacturer for replacement

Does the user require training to operate?

Minimal training (which includes a review of safety features), is needed to operate Harken’s 6:1 purchase system. However, the industry requires thorough training in diver recovery procedures, with each company responsible for developing and managing its own training package. The industry shares knowledge responsibly and aims to standardize solutions where possible.

Additional resources

We have some useful links on our website to the latest health and safety information for the commercial marine industry, access and rescue. Click this link to find out more.

Currently available from the Harken Industrial UK only.