Clearance Divers exercise all aspects of their trade

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer), CPL Nicci Freeman (photographer), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Hawaii, USA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, HMAS Waterhen, Exercise RIMPAC

A Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver during a training exercise off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii as part of RIMPAC 2018. (photo: UNKNOWN)
A Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver during a training exercise off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii as part of RIMPAC 2018.

More than 70 Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers have spent the past few weeks exercising the full spectrum of their trade in the United States during RIMPAC 2018.

The contingent, made up of the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Squadron and Clearance Dive Team Four from HMA Ships Waterhen and Stirling respectively, has been training in Hawaii and Southern California alongside their counterparts from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.

The Australian contingent has taken part in underwater salvage, sea and land-based explosive ordnance and improvised explosive device disposal as well as reconnaissance and clearance of beaches ahead of landing forces.

Commanding Officer of the dive contingent in Hawaii, Lieutenant Commander Ryan Post, said working in close company with other dive teams over an extended period had improved their interoperability.

“Many of our team in Hawaii lived and worked alongside dive teams from other nations in a combined camp on Ford Island and at Hickam Air Base for the duration of RIMPAC, helping us integrate and better perform on the job.”

“We’ve successfully completed numerous underwater tasks, including stage diving, which involves taking a craned platform from a ship to the sea floor, and beach reconnaissance landings that tested our ability to secure amphibious landing sites.”

Warrant Officer Clearance Diver Chris Wright said coming to RIMPAC was a unique opportunity and a highly sought after exercise for Clearance Divers.

“We’ve been working with our partner nations on a daily basis and we’ve even integrated a team made up of mixed countries so we can all learn from each other and pass on our skills,” he said.

“For example, the Canadians have a different explosive ordnance disposal robot so we’ve been able to see how they use that and take some lessons away.”

“Getting a chance to work with our partner nations is invaluable and we can take what we learn back and put into our mission sets.”