Divers embrace winter challenges

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Adam Grover (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Hobart, Tasmania

Petty Officer Clearance Diver Chad Buhlmann and Able Seaman Clearance Diver George Cantarakas ready to search for a downed aircraft while conducting a training exercise in Tasmania.  (photo: Unknown)
Petty Officer Clearance Diver Chad Buhlmann and Able Seaman Clearance Diver George Cantarakas ready to search for a downed aircraft while conducting a training exercise in Tasmania.

Permanent and Reserve Navy divers have been working together in Tasmania's cold, clean waters to sharpen their technical skills as well as overcoming the challenges of 'bracing' climatic conditions.

Members of Australian Clearance Diving Team One and Australian Navy Reserve Diving Team Ten have spent the last ten days training and extending their operational capacity in underwater damage repair.

While the primary focus of Clearance Divers is to perform Explosive Ordinance Disposal, they frequently work with other members of the Navy's broader diving community to strengthen their ability to undertake underwater repairs.

The Tasmanian-based Australian Navy Reserve Diving Team Ten provides a range of capabilities which complement the permanent capability including mine clearance diving, search and recovery. In the context of their current work, the skills and competencies of the two dive teams have contributed to some exemplary training outcomes, including the search and recovery of a Cessna fuselage in a downed aircraft scenario, practice in underwater welding, cutting and salvage.

In January 2016, Team One established a underwater damage repair capacity. Warrant Officer Clearance Diver Simon Danson said the team is rapidly developing its capability in the use of Scuba equipment and underwater tools in the conduct of underwater damage repair activities. 

"In order to accelerate the development of underwater damage repair skills, this period of dedicated training with Australian Navy Reserve Diving Team Ten allows us to draw upon their unique skills sets and training aids in a truly unique and challenging training area," Warrant Officer Danson said: 

“The junior sailors how have an appreciation of the cold and dark water with multiple obstacles."
 
"They used three different types of dry suits and a variety of search techniques to get the job done. Many valuable lessons have been learned.”

Able Seaman Clearance Diver Nathan Brooks said the particular climatic and water conditions had been a real eye-opener for a number of divers.

“I’ve never experienced diving in such challenging conditions as the water temperature was 4 degrees and the air temp was zero, lucky we had recently been issued with new dry suits,” he said.

Detachment commander, Chief Petty Officer Clearance Diver Shaun Elliott, said that the close team work between permanent and reserve dive team had resulted in a successful and rewarding period of training.

“This has been the first real test for our underwater damage repair element since it was established this year and they’ve passed the test with flying colours.”