Course Outcomes

GUE’s Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) Cave course is designed to cultivate mastery-level skill in the use of underwater propulsion vehicles in the cave environment. Other course outcomes include: reinforcing the outcomes of GUE’s DPV Level 1, managing the ramifications of using multiple DPVs and stage bottles, and environment-specific applications. 


Applicants for a DPV Cave 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 18 years of age.
  7. Have passed GUE’s DPV 1 course or secured a waiver from GUE Headquarters.
  8. Have passed GUE’s Cave 2 course.
  9. Have a minimum of 50 Cave 2 dives beyond certification.
  10. Own a GUE sanctioned DPV with sufficient burn time for the cave environment.


Course Content

The DPV Cave course is normally conducted over five days and includes seven dives and a minimum of 40 hours of instruction, which encompasses classroom, land drills, and in-water work.

DPV Cave-Specific Training Standards


  1. Student-to-instructor ratio is not to exceed 3:1 during land drills or surface exercises, and cannot exceed 2:1 during in-water training.
  2. Maximum depth is not to exceed 100 feet/30 meters.
  3. Minimum starting visibility of 30 feet/9 meters.


Training Materials

The Diver Propulsion Vehicle Cave course is largely an experience-based course; training materials will consist of handouts that will be distributed to trainees by their instructor during the course.

Academic Topics


  1. Introduction: GUE organization and course overview (objectives, limits, expectations)
  2. Equipment considerations
  3. DPV components
  4. DPV maintenance
  5. Leashes (lengths, knots, lanyards)
  6. Stage and decompression cylinders
  7. Exposure suit for the cave environment
  8. Dive planning (operational, team, support, objectives)
  9. Matching different speeds while using a DPV
  10. Emergency procedures (includes: gas sharing, towing diver, and run away scooter)
  11. Gas planning
  12. Trigger time and multiple scooter use
  13. Towing a DPV
  14. Stage management
  15. Line use (installing, following, and retrieving)
  16. Managing, switching, dropping, and stowing DPVs


Land Drills


  1. Proper position while using a DPV
  2. Ready position
  3. Runaway DPV
  4. Switching DPVs
  5. Dropping DPVs
  6. Use of a primary light while operating a DPV
  7. Team order and protocols
  8. Use of spools and reels
  9. Navigation 
  10. Pre-dive drills


Required Dive Skills and Drills


  1. 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, if necessary, appropriate thermal protection.
  2. Must be able to swim a distance of at least 60 feet/18 meters on a breath hold while submerged.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in safe diving techniques; this would include pre-dive preparations, in-water activity, and post-dive assessment.
  4. Demonstrate awareness of team member location and concern for safety, responding quickly to visual indications and dive partner needs.
  5. Demonstrate a safe and responsible demeanor throughout all training.
  6. Demonstrate proficiency in underwater communication while on a DPV.
  7. Demonstrate basic proficiency managing the GUE equipment configuration.
  8. Demonstrate safe ascent and descent procedures.
  9. Demonstrate proficiency adjusting to maintain proper buoyancy and trim while using a DPV. Approximate reference is a maximum of 20 degrees off horizontal while remaining within 3 feet/1 meter of a target depth. 
  10. Demonstrate proficiency in laying and retrieving line with a DPV; this includes use of a primary reel and jumps/gaps.
  11. Demonstrate proficiency in switching from one DPV to another.
  12. Demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of stage and decompression bottle management while managing DPVs.
  13. Demonstrate proficiency in calculating accurate available trigger time.
  14. Demonstrate effective use of compass and navigation.
  15. Demonstrate ability to match speeds with team members.
  16. Demonstrate ability to tow a diver.
  17. Demonstrate control while dealing with a runaway DPV.
  18. Demonstrate proficiency with the sequential management of an out-of-gas episode.
  19. Demonstrate ability to tow an out-of-gas diver for a distance of 500 feet/150 meters.
  20. Demonstrate proficiency in managing breathing system failures, including proper assessment and valve manipulation with regulator switching as appropriate.
  21. Demonstrate proficiency with effective decompression techniques, including depth and time management.
  22. Demonstrate an efficient exit on a backup light.
  23. Demonstrate ability to follow a guideline in a simulated no-visibility while managing stage(s) and DPV(s).
  24. Demonstrate ability to manage equipment through restricted areas with concern for the environment.


Equipment Requirements

GUE base configuration as outlined in Appendix A, plus:

  1. Two approved DPVs

An approved DPV is one that is a tow-behind style with variable speed adjustment and clutch mechanism. The DPV must include an attached cord at the back with a bolt snap to be clipped on the front crotch strap D-ring. The DPV should also have a leash attached to the front to be used for towing a disabled DPV.


Explore GUE Standards

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