Office: 207-442-0998 (24 hrs)      Mobile: 207-841-0998

Professional Bio-sketch – Bret C. Gilliam


Bret Gilliam is President of the consulting corporation, OCEAN TECH. He has been professionally involved in the diving and maritime industry since 1971, a career now spanning nearly forty-nine years.


Diving Career

Since beginning diving in 1959, he has logged over 19,000 dives around the world. His background includes scientific expeditions, military/commercial projects, operating hyperbaric diving treatment medical facilities, liveaboard dive vessels and luxury yachts, retail dive store & Caribbean resort operation and ownership. He was founder and President of V.I. DIVERS LTD. in the U.S. Virgin Islands until selling that corporation in 1985. As Vice President and Director of Operations for Ocean Quest International Cruise Lines, he was responsible for the world's largest sport diving program from 1987 to 1990 aboard the 500-ft., 18,000-ton ship Ocean Spirit. Bret is licensed as a U.S.C.G. Merchant Marine Master, deep submersible pilot, aircraft pilot, and recompression chamber supervisor.


Gilliam is author of over 1500 articles and primary author, editor or contributor to 69 books on diving, maritime operations, diving emergency medical procedures, dive training manuals, photography, etc. He is a frequent lecturer at diving conferences around the U.S. and internationally. He has sponsored research projects in decompression sickness, diving computers, inert gas narcosis, multi-day repetitive diving and developed some of the first certification specialty courses in dive accident management & recompression chambers and multi-level computer diving. His company operated the first ship-based recompression chamber facility to treat sport divers. His diving operations have conducted in excess of 600,000 dives for divers since 1971.


Bret is a prolific writer on various subjects related to diving education, diving physiology, travel, and operational systems, he has been published in virtually every diving magazine in North America, Europe and Asia. His underwater photography has illustrated national advertising campaigns, science and diving educational texts, travel and glamour articles, and a diversified selection of diving articles. He was the senior editor of Scuba Times, a contributing editor/photographer to Discover Diving, Sources, Rodale's Scuba Diving, Sport Diver, Deep Tech, Aquanaut (Germany), Ocean (Germany), and Sea (Israel). He has also been a frequent writer for Undercurrent, Sub Aqua Journal, In Depth, and Aquacorps. He was Senior Technical Editor for Rodale's Scuba Diving magazine from 1992-95 and again from 1999 to 2001. He founded and served as Publisher and Senior Editor of Fathoms magazine from 2001-2005 when he sold the publication to pursue a series of book projects and serve as Senior Editor of Diving Adventure magazine.


Currently, he is a contributing editor to Diver magazine, Undercurrent, Unterwasser, and Tech Diving Magazine with additional editing and writing special projects for such clients as Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms special large volume book on diving history.


Gilliam is credentialed as a Recompression Chamber Supervisor through the Association of Diver Medical Technicians (ADMT), Hyperbarics International, and the International Board of Underwater Medicine (IBUM). Those groups, as well as the International Association of Aquatic Medicine (ISAM), the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN), the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), and the South Pacific Underwater Medical Society (SPUMS) have published his medical papers.


He also was the contributing editor and author of the chapter on “Diving Emergency Medicine” for the reference text Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support published by Mosby-Lifeline for use by physicians, nurses, DMTs, EMTs, and Paramedics.


Gilliam has operated diving hyperbaric chamber facilities since 1971 throughout the Caribbean and aboard ships internationally in some of the most remote areas of the world. Additionally, he has trained the response teams in resorts and aboard vessels in field treatments including in-water recompression therapy protocols. He has treated or consulted on nearly 300 cases.


He is one the country's most experienced deep divers and holds the world depth record for compressed air diving at 490 feet set in 1993 and led the industry’s growth in the field of technical diving, electronic dive computers, rebreathers, and other technological advances. He is an instructor for NAUI, PADI, NASDS, ANDI, PDIC, SDI and a Technical Diving Instructor for ANDI, TDI and IANTD. Additionally, he is the ex-Chairman of the Board of Directors of NAUI, former President & CEO of UWATEC USA Inc., former co-publisher of Deep Tech Journal, and retired as President of International Training Inc. (TDI, SDI, ERDI) when he sold the company in February 2004. Bret has twice been the recipient of NAUI's Outstanding Contribution to Diving Award, Beneath The Sea’s Diver of the Year, as well as international honors for his photography and film work. He is also included in Who's Who In Scuba Diving by Best Publishing. He was elected to membership in the internationally prestigious Explorers Club in 1993 with additional honors as a "Fellow National". He was also a member of the elite Boston Sea Rovers.


In 2012 he was voted by his peers to receive diving’s highest honor, the prestigious NOGI award for Sports/Education by the Academy of Underwater Arts & Science and inducted as a Fellow into their Diving Hall of Fame.


Maritime Career

Gilliam has lifetime experience on boats since moving aboard the family 82-foot motor yacht Argo at age eight. He operated this vessel after age 17 on voyages between Key West, Florida to as far north as Maine. In 1971, he operated a series of research vessels up to 220 feet for the U. S. Navy and Navy contractors in Caribbean waters. He later founded a yacht charter and management company in 1976 and subsequently owned and/or managed 16 large motor yachts/ships up to 380 feet in charter trade throughout Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and the east coast of the U.S. including Maine and Canada. Also, he served as CEO, Director of Operations, and Master of the 500-ft., 18,000-ton cruise ship Ocean Spirit for Ocean Quest International. He has done frequent delivery and consulting work with vessels of all sizes.


He has actively participated in all phases of yacht & ship construction, operation, design and charter. From 1975 to 1985, he designed and constructed 13 diesel powered custom dive boats and yachts through Maine and New Hampshire boat building firms; built to full USCG Subchapter T specifications for passenger carrying certifications. Another 22 vessels up to 380 ft. were constructed on projects for international passenger service to SOLAS requirements and various classing agencies.


Since 1974, has supervised major overhauls and refits on several large motor yachts and ships including an eight-month project on a 96-foot Benetti, a one-year project on a 112-ft. Feadship, an 18-month refit on a 105-ft. William Garden/Victor Franc, two 110-ft. Swiftship aluminum commercial vessels, and the completion and modifications to a 128-ft. Delta motor yacht. Additionally, he had port captain's responsibility for refurbishment and modifications to the 550-foot cruise ship in Singapore and New Orleans. The latter project included design and installation of a variety of ships systems to convert the roll on, roll off (RORO) car deck to accommodate 12 custom dive boats, a specially designed cradle system to move the vessels fore and aft on the working deck, and a rolling gantry crane to deploy the boats from the ship's stern.


Other unique equipment included a 150,000 cubic foot, high-pressure (4800 psi) compressed air filling system for diving and a 60-inch diameter PVHO rated hyperbaric recompression chamber for treating up to six divers at a time.


Commercial vessel experience includes senior officer positions and command of mid-size cruise ships, tug and research vessel operation on Oceans, Lakes and Rivers. He qualified as a submersible pilot for 600 and 2500-foot depth vehicles while with U. S. Navy projects in early 1970s. He has had over 49 years of vessel operation in the western hemisphere, licensed as U. S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine officer as Master as well as Master's licenses from several foreign nations.


He continues to remain actively involved in consulting projects including construction of a recent 295-ft. custom yacht in June 2001, a 270-ft. expedition vessel in 2005, a 248-foot motor yacht in July 2006, a 380-ft. motor yacht in 2019 and a 140-ft. motor-sailing expedition vessel in 2011. There are several other projects that are covered under confidentiality agreements for private clients that cannot be detailed. Gilliam was on retainer to Earth Dive Ltd., a U. K. diving company building a film production expedition vessel (220 ft.) for world exploration voyages and film projects. He currently is under contract for the design phase of a construction project in the design of two NOAA research vessels’ diving breathing systems and a 380-ft. private luxury expedition motor yacht that will continuously circumnavigate the globe.


Since 1976 Gilliam has held a Merchant Marine Masters license through the USCG (includes endorsements for Steam, Motor, and Auxiliary Sail as well as Passenger Trade). His experience as Master includes command positions worldwide of ships up to 550 feet, 18,000 tons.



Legal Consulting

He has an extensive consulting practice as a litigation advisor and expert witness as well as clients worldwide for diving and maritime operations and safety protocols. Government clients have included the U. S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Dept. of Defense, U. S. Marine Corps, Naval Criminal Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).


His litigation appearances include both civil and criminal proceedings in the United States Canada, Israel, Okinawa, United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Micronesia, Belize, St. Maarten, Singapore, Greece, and Barbados. These include cases involving issues of engineering, operational protocols, safety, charter contracts, compliance with international and local regulations, licensing, recreational and commercial operation of vessels and watercraft, wrongful death and personal injury torts. He has worked on over 355 case files to date. These were nearly evenly divided between plaintiff and defense cases.


He has extensive experience in drafting risk management documents for the maritime business including Waiver & Release Indemnification agreements that have been upheld on Motions for Summary Judgment that led to the elimination of law suits in 15 states. Additionally, he has wide expertise in the drafting and interpretation of vessel contracts worldwide in both demise and direct applications including crew hiring voyage contracts and has served as a consultant to the USCG in developing such contracts to meet U. S. and foreign compliance. He is on retainer to Lloyds of London syndicates as principal litigation consultant on maritime clients’ torts as well as serving as the primary expert witness.



Gilliam has founded and sold six corporations (V. I. Divers Ltd., Ocean Quest International, AMF Yachting Group, G2 Publishing Inc., DiveSafe Insurance, and International Training Inc. since 1971. As Vice President and CEO, he was instrumental in taking UWATEC public in a sale for 44 million dollars to JWA in 1997 and sold his publishing company (Scuba Times and Deep Tech) to Petersen/E-Map in 1999. His entrepreneurial successes in the diving industry have made him a multi-millionaire. The aggregate value of his companies when sold was in excess of $80 million.


He is 69 and lives on an island in Maine but travels extensively internationally on diving & maritime business and filming expeditions. He has a custom-built motor yacht for wildlife photography projects and other expedition filming usage located in New England.


He formed the Diving Legacy Foundation in 2005 that makes generous financial grants and support for ocean conservation, scholarships for diving education, honorariums to diving pioneers, and funds humanitarian aid projects in remote regions of Third World countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.


U.S. contacts:

Mail: Phones, email & website

Bret Gilliam direct phone: 207-442-0998 (24 hrs.)

OCEAN TECH cell phone: 207-841-0998

54 Stonetree Rd. Arrowsic, ME 04530

email: [email protected]