JFD history

Created in 2014, JFD has rapidly expanded following various acquisitions and mergers.

JFD was created in 2014 through the merger of Divex and James Fisher Defence. In 2015 JFD acquired the National Hyperbaric Centre to further boost the services offered to its customers. In 2016 LEXMAR was acquired to enhance the capability and offering within JFD’s diving capability and suite of saturation diving systems.  JFD acquired diving and recompression specialist Cowan Manufacturing in February 2018.



Divex was created through a series of acquisitions and mergers within the underwater industry, and was able to trace its pedigree back to 1790 as ‘Barry, Henry and Cook’, an iron foundry with its engineering works located in Aberdeen. 

In 1981 an enterprising ex-US Navy diver Don Rodocker established a company called Gas Services Offshore Ltd in Aberdeen, it is this company which was to become the Divex known today.  Don brought together British inventor, Alex Copson’s Helinaut valve with his Gasmizer reclaim system to provide the first practical heliox recovery system. His technology was proved on the highly successful HMS Edinburgh gold recovery project.

The industry quickly adopted Gas Services reclaim system technology following the success of the Edinburgh salvage and the company became well established in Westhill. The company thrived and manufactured many gas reclaim systems throughout the 1980’s.

The company moved on to become part of the Pressure Products Group (PPG) which was formed through a number of mergers within the industry.  In 1998 the company renamed to become Divex and in the years that followed established entities and joint venture globally.

During its existence the company continued to strive to be the first choice of underwater contractors in the commercial and defence diving markets.  Over the years the company built the world’s most sophisticated saturation systems, designed systems which allow icebreaking vessel engines to breathe on SCUBA, helped recover mustard gas bombs from Japanese lakes and helped divers defuse WW2 munitions with its range of military rebreathers.

Most importantly however, Divex has provided systems and equipment that have allowed millions of hours of fatality-free diving for those depending on the company’s products. It is this record which Divex can be most proud of and which will remain JFD’s key driver for years to come.


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In 1983, James Fisher Defence, then known as Rumic, was awarded the contract to operate the UK Submarine Rescue Service, UKSRS, and went on to provide the Royal Navy with 25 years of unbroken service.  

Bought by James Fisher & Sons plc in 2002, and renamed James Fisher Defence in 2006, the company joined the team supporting the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) that year. In 2015 James Fisher Defence was awarded the contract to operate and maintain the system for another 10 years. 

In 2008 James Fisher Defence bought all the rescue assets of the UKSRS, including the LR5 Submarine Rescue Vehicle and Scorpio ROV, and created the James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service, JFSRS, currently providing the men and women of the Royal Australian Navy with a submarine rescue capability from the company's base near Perth, Western Australia.

2008 also saw James Fisher Defence deliver its first Deep Search and Rescue-class, DSAR, vehicle, the DSAR-5, to the Korean Navy. The following year, in 2009, the company delivered the second DSAR-class vehicle, the DSAR-6, to the Republic of Singapore Navy as part of the world's first, and only, commercially owned and operated submarine rescue service, on a 20 year contract for capability.

2010 saw the start of the company's Swimmer Delivery Programme, further augmented in 2013 with the acquisition of a Swedish swimmer delivery vehicle manufacturer, now known as James Fisher Defence Sweden AB. The facilities in Vaxholm, in the Stockholm archipelago, is now the centre for the company's swimmer delivery vehicle design, manufacture and maintenance.

With more than 30 years of safely delivering submarine rescue capabilities, James Fisher Defence, with HQ in Inchinnan near Glasgow, and with facilities in Singapore, Australia and Sweden, has established itself as the world leader in this field. Providing everything from concept design, manufacture, maintenance, training, and operation of complete Submarine Rescue Systems, SDVs, and ancillary equipment, the company continues its commitment to serve navies worldwide with its unrivalled experience and expertise of the challenging subsea environment.


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National Hyperbaric Centre was originally built in 1987 sponsored by the UK Government to provide a research centre for the subsea industry as well as a provider of diver medical support and hyperbaric lifeboat reception.

It has been a pioneering establishment and the Centre of expertise for the Subsea and Diving industry ever since.

Sold off in 1989 as part of a Government rationalisation of minor institutes and facilities, the Centre was purchased by Seaway Diving and subsequently owned by Stolt Offshore. In 2004 the company was bought and owned independently for 10 years before being acquired by JFD in 2015.

Being located in close proximity to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the Centre is historically and widely known for its involvement in hyperbaric medical treatment and management of ‘the bends’.

However, this is now only a small part of the NHC’s capabilities. NHC has progressively developed into an established global business offering a diverse range of services to the subsea industry including training, testing, consulting and emergency services as well as housing one of the few land-based saturation diving systems in the UK.  



LEXMAR was formed in 1996 by Ms Marieke Barker and her late husband, Lex Barker. The name of the company came from their first names – ‘Lex’ and ‘Mar’ and at the same time, they discovered that ‘lex’ is Latin for ‘law of’, and ‘mar’ means ‘sea’.  Being in the marine industry, LEXMAR – “LAW of the SEA”, seemed the perfect name. In the early days, LEXMAR operated as a service company to diving companies, gradually diversifying into refurbishment, and working towards eventually providing full refurbishment services for saturation diving systems.

By the year 2000, the company had launched its own brand of diving equipment, and started growing into a company offering full design, engineering and manufacturing of both modular and in-built Saturation Diving Systems. All LEXMAR Systems are designed and built as per class, be it ABS, DNV, RMRS or BV and are fully compliant with IMCA.

The company has also maintained a service contract for the Republic of Singapore Navy since 2003, providing the PMS for all the Hyperbaric Chambers.

In 2012 LEXMAR changed their strategy of building everything in-house, to keeping to their core strengths and partnering with our clients and specialists in the offshore industry to offer the highest quality products with a choice for a preferred brand / supplier of the industry.

LEXMAR developed a unique position in the niche market of building Saturation Diving Systems and differentiates itself in delivering with both QUALITY and INTEGRITY to their customers.

On 1st August 2016 LEXMAR Engineering and LEXMAR Sat Systems became part of JFD Ltd.  The inclusion of LEXMAR as part of JFD improves the company’s capability and offering of specialist diving equipment services to the Asia Pacific market, enhances the production capacity and customer support in this area, as well as strengthening our support to the Singapore Navy for all activities related to submarine rescue.



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JFD Cowan is a welding specialist with strong core competencies in stainless steel, aluminium fabrication and sheet-metal work.  JFD Cowan also specialises in design, manufacture and installation of Recompression Chambers, Decompression Chambers and other life support systems worldwide.  This role extends to ongoing maintenance, logistic support and training.

JFD Cowan’s reputation extends to ongoing maintenance, logistic support, spares and training both within Australia and overseas.

JFD Cowan is the largest provider of hyperbaric maintenance and repair services to Australian Defence supporting a total of 23 recompression chambers.  This involves arrangements with the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Defence Industries.

Further, it provides assistance to a number of Hospital Hyperbaric Facilities.

The objective of the Maintenance and Servicing program is to ensure that the Recompression Chamber System operates at the peak level of performance specified.

JFD Cowan utilises a monitoring and reporting system that enables the program to be continually reviewed and outcomes communicated to the client.