Who is Aret Hovagimyan? The First Turkish Biography in Industrial Diving and the Life of Aret Hovagimyan

It is highly likely that those who are new to the industrial diving world or those who does not deeply know the industry in our country have not heard of him before. If you know a little about the industry in Turkey, there is a possibility that you have heard the name “Metear Denizcilik (Marine)”. So who is Aret Hovagimyan and what is the real value of a lifetime spent underwater?

Lifetime Spent Underwater Book cover

Aret Hovagimyan is an old and smart diver who learned diving by completing a second class diver course in the Naval Forces, then established his own company with his friends and did many projects with Metear Denizcilik company in the private sector for a long time and passed away in 2021. He wrote the first biography in the field of industrial diving in Turkey. I’m not sure, but it may also be the first written content available for sale in the field of industrial diving in Turkey.

His autobiography is called “A Life Spent Underwater”. Even now, you can get the book from many book sales websites, which I think is a valuable collector’s item for all divers, since there is no written source on this industry in our country. The book begins with his introduction to diving after graduating from high school and continues with his own writing about many of his memories until the end of his life. I came across this book when another solid diver recommended it to me. Frankly, when you look at the cover, the only thing that gives a clue about the information inside is the word “underwater” in the title. At the same time, even the diver photos in the book are limited. Most of the photos are photos of people or ships. The back cover is too plain and doesn’t give a clue about its content. This means that if you look into this book normally to get an idea of ​​what’s inside, you’ll miss out on all the information in it. The book is written on an unusual subject, in a format that has yet to be seen. So naturally it has some pros and cons. Although it contains plenty of marine themes and may actually appeal to a much larger audience, I would probably not have noticed this book for the rest of my life had it not been that solid diver keep reminding me this book.

When I started reading the book, I realized that it contains a lot of information that I could not find elsewhere, an interesting life story, the diving style of its time, legends dating back to Atatürk, and I saw that Aret Hovagimyan was able to think about things much ahead of his (in fact, it may even be ahead of half of the people of our time) time. Then I decided that I should definitely talk about Aret Hovagimyan.

Aret Hovagimyan was born in Istanbul. He graduated from Sainth Joseph High School. After graduating from high school, he started giving private lessons to support his family. At the same time, he applied for summons for compulsory military service, but it was postponed to the next term due to the quota occupancy. One day, he came acros a friend and they start to talk about military service. His friend mentioned that he is a member of the Turkish Divers Club (TBK – Türk Balıkadamlar Kulübü), that he will attend diving courses and apply to the military branch with the diving badge he will receive, and that he has a chance to do his military service at Istanbul Çubuklu Diving School. This idea landed on Aret Hovagimyan’s head and he he enrolled in the TBK course.

Turkish Divers Club Logo

He made his first dive to 40 meters as a group in the TBK course. With today’s diving knowledge, I’m sure anyone will be speechless when they read those lines, which he also mentioned that if he had known that it was 40 meters during the dive, he might would have gotten excited and caused an accident. It is clear that military divers from the Navy have had a substantial impact on both recreational and industrial diving in Turkey throughout the past. The story of Aret Hovagimyan begins in the same way. He successfully completed the TBK Course and received his badge. He had the chance to do his military service in Istanbul, had legendary military memories and continued to give private lessons as much as he could. At that time, high school and college graduates were entitled to do their military service as reserve officers.

After his military service, he met with his friends Teoman and Metin, during an ordinary conversation, they decided to establish the company “Me-Te-Ar Denizcilik” and the first spark of this book, which is the only one in its field in Turkey, comes out. For 60 years, they have completed operations that are more difficult than the other. During this time, they have accumulated many interesting memories, from Rahmi Koç to the steamboat that Atatürk said, “They go as they come”.

Scrap condition of the Kartal steamboat
The renewed version of the Kartal steamboat is now standing in the Istanbul Shipyard

In 1984, he joined the board of directors of the Chamber of Maritime (Denizcilik Odası) in order to represent the companies in his sector and to benefit the sector. The book also includes the article he wrote when he left that postion 2018, there is a part of this article that I think is particularly striking;

“I would like it to be known that I am ready to share my knowledge and experience in my professional life on behalf of my industry. Because our profession does not have a book, it is learned as jigsaw puzzles. We paid a heavy price, so the youth should not pay it either.”

I think it is great that he is aware of the fact that there are almost no proper resources about the industrial diving world, especially nothing in Turkish, and that he took the first step by writing his own autobiography so that this would not continue in this way. There has been no further movement from the rest of the industry in this regard so far, naturally, carrying the torch further, as in many other subjects, is again falls the hands of young people, which they, trying to learn how to do the things right ,as their learning processes continue, naturally they have not learned the limits and traditional mistakes yet, It’s up to the people who will create the future. Or do you think there will be a continuation move from the old ones in the sector? I hope they make at an least another move.

In 2009, they established a formation called SULİM – Underwater Harbor Builders Cooperative. They aimed to ensure company communication and solidarity, and also to solve the housing problem of the sea vehicles they used, which was considered a problem at that time. Their efforts on this subject at the time resulted in the statement by the General Director of Marine and Inland Waters at the time that Tuzla Marmados Bay would be their shelter. But today we know Tuzla Marmados Bay as Tuzla Marina. Piri Reis students know that place well.

In 2019, SULİM management decided to close. Although organizations such as ADCI or IMCA in developed countries have partially succeeded in bringing companies together with their standards, their standards still need to be developed. In our country, there was an attempt to bring together similar industrial diving companies. I have not heard that they have a loud voice in the sector at the moment, but it cannot be said that I could reach much information about them. If I can find out more about these two attempts in the future, I may write an article examining the pros and cons. At first glance it seems like SULIM could definitely have a better name and scope.

Towards the end of his life, they decided to leave the management of the company to his own and his partner’s child. Aret Hovagimyan, died in 2021 due to the pandemic. METEAR Company’s office was located in Moda, Kadıköy-Moda lovers may know where it is located. Because it used to be located in the building where the pub-disco known as “Bear” (Ayı) was located. Today, the company does not continue its underwater activities. I didn’t expect a story like this to, end like this.

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