A world-leading subsea training facility in the Highlands has been forced into administration, placing almost 50 jobs at risk.
The Underwater Centre in Fort William made the decision after getting into financial difficulties as a result of “market forces”.
It is one of only two places globally which provide closed bell diving training, but many firms have not been putting employees through the course in recent years.
Managing director David McGhie said: “We regret to confirm that the Underwater Centre has been forced to cease trading and will be placed into administration.
“It was heart-breaking informing our committed, loyal and professional staff.
“Government, industry and the local management team have been working hard over the past year to try and find a sustainable solution for the Centre. Unfortunately this has not been possible.
“The process of appointing administrators is on-going.”
The centre is mainly used by the oil and gas industry, however it is also used by others for training.
If the administration process results in its closure, people who have to undergo a closed bell diving course will have to travel to France.
The training allows divers – while inside a lockout bell – to reach depths greater than 70 metres while breathing mixtures other than air.
Pressure from the decline in the offshore sector has been cited as the main reason for finding itself in financial difficulty.
Earlier this year, the centre moved from private ownership to become a not-for-profit organisation in a bid to attract public and business investment, which has proved unsuccessful.
It currently employs 48 people.