Sunday, June 16, 2024

BSAC Celebrates 70th Anniversary


The British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) will celebrate its 70th anniversary on October 15th.

BSAC was founded back in 1953 by Oscar Gugen and Peter Small, who were members of the Royal Air Force Sub-Aqua Club. Their vision was to create a democratic, non-profit organization that would facilitate diving and promote marine conservation. The inaugural meeting took place in London, where 22 enthusiasts joined together to establish the first branch of BSAC.

Tyneside 114 trip to St Abbs 3 - hard boat diving (Photo courtesy of Tyneside SAC)
Photo courtesy of Tyneside SAC

One of BSAC’s most influential contributions has been in the development of diver training and establishing safety standards. The club recognized the need for structured training programs and introduced the first novice diving course in the 1950s. This program laid the foundation for subsequent training levels, such as the Sports Diver, Dive Leader and Advanced Diver courses, each building upon the knowledge and skills acquired in the previous level.

BSAC’s commitment to safety led to the establishment of a rigorous system of instructor qualification and ongoing professional development. The Instructor Training Scheme remains a cornerstone of BSAC’s success, ensuring that instructors are equipped with the knowledge and skills to train divers effectively and safely.

Tyneside 114 trip to St Abbs (Photo courtesy of Tyneside SAC)
Photo courtesy of Tyneside SAC

BSAC divers have played a significant role in exploring the underwater realms, uncovering historical wrecks and discovering previously unknown sites. Over the years, BSAC expeditions have ventured into diverse locations worldwide, uncovering the secrets hidden beneath the surface. Notable discoveries include the Antikythera Wreck in Greece, where BSAC divers contributed to the recovery of the ancient Antikythera Mechanism, a marvel of ancient technology.

BSAC also played a significant role in the raising of the Mary Rose, the 16th-century flagship of King Henry VIII.

BSAC divers were instrumental in surveying, excavating, and recovering artifacts from the shipwreck. The efforts of BSAC divers and then-Prince Charles’ participation contributed to the successful preservation and display of the Mary Rose and its treasures for future generations.

Photo courtesy of Tyneside SAC
Photo courtesy of Tyneside SAC

Over the decades, BSAC members have provided valuable information for maritime archaeology and historical research and have added immeasurable value to our understanding of the underwater world.

Speaking at a previous BSAC conference, world-renowned Professor of Anaesthesiology and fellow diver Simon Mitchell summarized his thoughts on the organization:

“I’m struck by what is in front of me. I don’t know if you know how unique you are. I travel the world speaking at meetings like this…there’s nothing else like this, this is a club, a club with thousands of members, running its own training program and surviving in this commercially hostile environment. It’s extraordinary. I can tell you there’s nothing like it in the world. I can only offer my congratulations.”

To celebrate 70 years, BSAC has created the video below as a thank you to its members, instructors, volunteers and friends across the world.

BSAC celebrates 70th anniversary


John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.