Navy Clearance Divers honoured

Published on LEUT Gemma Casserly (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (author)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, NSW

Topic(s): Diving Teams, Honours, Awards and Trophies

Playing the bagpipes, Lieutenant David Hastie RAN, leads the Citations to the rededication ceremony for the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving (RANCD) Memorial, at the RAN Diving School, HMAS Penguin.  (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Playing the bagpipes, Lieutenant David Hastie RAN, leads the Citations to the rededication ceremony for the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving (RANCD) Memorial, at the RAN Diving School, HMAS Penguin.

The Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving (RANCD) Memorial, which remembers those killed on duty in service of their country, was rededicated at a ceremony at HMAS Penguin last Friday.

The memorial was originally dedicated on 25 August 2000, however has been relocated to its new home, the refurbished RAN Diving School.

The memorial is constructed from sandstone blocks that once formed the retaining sea wall at HMAS Rushcutter - home to the Navy’s first diving school. The memorial features the Clearance Divers emblem of a diving helmet carved in high relief into the sandstone, together with two brass plaques. One lists the history of the Clearance Diving Branch; the other bears the names of those to whom the memorial is dedicated.

The Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving (RANCD) Memorial, at the RAN Diving School, HMAS Penguin.

The Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving (RANCD) Memorial, at the RAN Diving School, HMAS Penguin.

Following the rededication ceremony, Presidential and United States Navy citations, previously awarded to RAN Clearance Divers from Clearance Diving Team THREE (CDT3) Contingent No 4 for service in Vietnam, were unfurled for the first time.

Six members of CDT3 were awarded the United States Presidential Unit Citation for service in Vietnam between August 1968 and February 1969, during which time they took part in Operation Sea Lords as part of Task Group 194. The award was presented in 2012 by then US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich and Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs at a ceremony at HMAS Penguin.

The Presidential Unit Citation recognises the outstanding service provided by CDT3 during the Vietnam War and the high esteem in which they were held.

Chief of Navy granted approval for the Presidential and United States Navy Meritorious Unit Citations pennants to be flown at the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving School in 2013. Clearance Diving Team THREE, a reserve unit, is only formed during warlike periods and had no way to fly the citation burgees.

In attendance at the ceremony was the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO CSC RAN, US Naval Attaché, Captain Stewart Warren Holbrook (representing the United States Ambassador to Australia) and families of those to whom the memorial is dedicated as well as many other VIPs.

Officer in charge of the Royal Australian Navy Dive School, LCDR Russ Crawford says it was a proud day and one which reinforced the important job Clearance Divers perform.

“As clearance divers we perform demanding and dangerous work. We are trained to locate, identify, render safe and dispose of Underwater Explosive Ordnance (EOD) and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD). We perform this role around ports and anchorages, beaches and in open oceans, providing an important capability to Australia.”

“While this is a big job, we are a small group of highly trained specialists,” said LCDR Crawford.

“Today was a great opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by our predecessors and to acknowledge the significant contribution Clearance Diving Team 3 made in the Vietnam War.”

“They are an inspiration to the next generation of Clearance Divers undergoing training,” said LCDR Crawford.

More imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140630.