Cave Diver Level 3

Course Outcomes

GUE’s Cave Diver Level 3 course is designed as a mastery level course with an emphasis on the techniques necessary to sustain longer range cave dives. Among its course outcomes are: advanced cave diving strategies, advanced gas management, efficient manipulation of multiple penetration stage cylinders, cave survey techniques, and DPV diving.


Applicants for a Cave 3 course must:

  1. Submit a completed registration form, a medical history, and a liability release to GUE Headquarters.
  2. Be physically and mentally fit.
  3. Hold insurance that will cover diving emergencies such as hyperbaric treatment, e.g. DAN Master-level insurance or equivalent.
  4. Be a nonsmoker.
  5. Obtain a physician’s prior written authorization for the use of prescription drugs, except for birth control, or for any prior medical condition that may pose a risk while diving.
  6. Be a minimum of 21 years of age.
  7. Be Cave 2, Tech 1, Documentation diver and DPV certified.
  8. Have at least 100 cave dives with 75 cave dives beyond Cave 2 certification.

Course Content

The GUE Cave 3 course is normally conducted over seven days; it requires ten cave dives and a minimum 30 hours of instruction, encompassing classroom, land drills and in-water work.

Cave 3 Specific Training Standards

  1. Student-to-instructor ratio is not to exceed 6:1 during land drill or surface exercises, but cannot exceed 3:1 during any overhead diving activity.
  2. Gas consumption: maximum use of 1/3 of gas supply for cave penetration.

Training Materials

GUE training materials and recommended reading as determined by the course study packet received via online download after GUE course registration.

Academic Topics

  1. Introduction: GUE organization and course overview (objectives, limits, expectations)
  2. Conservation
  3. Logistical planning, project support, and operational planning
  4. Advanced diving techniques, including scooter diving, use of multiple stage/deco cylinders, navigation, extended penetration, advanced gas management, and decompression strategy

Land Drills and Topics

  1. Use of safety spools/reels
  2. Reel and guideline use in emergency procedures, including touch contact and gas sharing techniques
  3. Lost diver procedures
  4. Lost guideline procedures
  5. Basic and advanced navigation skills, including gaps, jumps, and survey techniques
  6. Visual referencing skills

Required Dive Skills and Drills

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in safe diving techniques; this would include pre-dive preparations, in-water activity and post-dive assessment.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of team member location and concern for safety, responding quickly to visual indications and dive partner needs.
  3. Demonstrate a safe and responsible demeanor throughout all training.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in underwater communication.
  5. Demonstrate basic proficiency managing a GUE equipment configuration.
  6. Demonstrate safe ascent and descent procedures.
  7. Must be able to swim at least 500 yards/450 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping. This test should be conducted in a swimsuit and, where necessary, appropriate thermal protection.
  8. Must be able to swim a distance of at least 60 feet/18 meters on a breath hold while submerged.
  9. Comfortably demonstrate at least three propulsion techniques that would be appropriate in delicate and/or silty environments; one of these kicks must be the backward kick.
  10. Demonstrate proficiency in the use of touch contact for limited and simulated zero-visibility situations.
  11. Use of line-following techniques for limited/no visibility situations.
  12. Demonstrate efficient deployment of a reserve light in less than ten seconds.
  13. Perform a lost diver drill while remaining calm and maintaining both a horizontal and neutral position in the water.
  14. Perform a lost line drill in simulated zero-visibility conditions while remaining calm and maintaining both a horizontal and neutral position in the water.
  15. Demonstrate effective valve management by switching regulators, shutting down a valve in less than ten seconds, and returning the valve to the open position again in less than ten seconds.
  16. Demonstrate proficiency with guideline management in the following scenarios (1) simulated zero-visibility line following; this would incorporate touch-contact skills; (2) efficient deployment of the guideline; and (3) efficient removal of the guideline.
  17. Demonstrate proficiency in problem solving, including line entanglement, navigation in restrictive regions, and multiple line management.
  18. Demonstrate advanced navigational skills by completing at least two jumps and successfully completing a circuit and/or traverse.
  19. Demonstrate a calm demeanor while sharing gas in simulated zero visibility for at least 300 feet/90 meters.
  20. Demonstrate proficiency in the use of stage cylinders.
  21. Demonstrate proficiency in gas sharing while managing multiple stages.
  22. Demonstrate safe and efficient operation of a DPV.
  23. Demonstrate proficiency in gas sharing while piloting a DPV.
  24. Demonstrate the skill required to run a guideline while using a DPV.
  25. Demonstrate the skill required to tow a diver with a failed DPV.
  26. Demonstrate the ability to mentally record depth, time, and gas consumption during a dive and apply these parameters to future dive planning.
  27. Demonstrate facility with advanced decompression techniques by: 1) explaining trends in decompression tables, and 2) explaining how to manage decompression in the event of a lost decompression gas.
  28. Demonstrate the skill required to carry out all decompression obligations, assuming the loss of all back gas.
  29. Demonstrate the ability to manage failed regulators, first and second stages.
  30. Demonstrate good buoyancy and trim, i.e. approximate reference is a maximum of 20 degrees off horizontal while remaining within 3 feet/1 meter of a target depth.

Equipment Requirements

GUE base configuration as outlined in Appendix A, plus:

  1. GUE double tank configuration
  2. Primary and back-up lights
  3. Two bottom stages
  4. Two decompression stages
  5. Approved DPV
  6. Back-up mask
  7. One primary reel per team
  8. One safety spool with 150 feet/45 meters per person
  9. At least two jump spools per person
  10. At least 12 line markers; six directional (arrows) and six non-directional (cookies)

Prior to the commencement of class, students should consult with a GUE representative to verify equipment requirements and appropriateness of any selected equipment.