Resilience and commitment on display at ADF Diving School

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABIS Daniel Goodman (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin, Clearance Diving Teams

Australian Defence Force Diving School trainees conducting a fitness session for the VIP day held at HMAS Penguin, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Daniel Goodman)
Australian Defence Force Diving School trainees conducting a fitness session for the VIP day held at HMAS Penguin, Sydney.

The Navy mission “To Fight and Win at Sea” was on prominent display during the recent Clearance Diver Aptitude Assessment at the Australian Defence Force Diving School at HMAS Penguin in Balmoral Sydney.

A small group of Senior Officers and Diving School Staff came to observe the Clearance Diver candidates undertake a physical training activity on the wharf and in the water adjacent to the school.

The Officer in Charge of the school, Commander Paul Doble, briefed the audience prior to the event stating that the serial to be observed was a high intensity activity involving both water and land-based exercises.

“The Clearance Diver Aptitude Assessment is primarily implemented to assess candidates for their suitability, trainability, and potential for effective employment as a CD,” Commander Doble said.

“There have been multiple iterations to get us to this point, and it is improved each time,” he said.

The main objective of the aptitude test is to assess candidates who are most likely to successfully pass the basic Clearance Diver and Clearance Diving Officer courses.

Candidates are subjected to the physical and mental demands in the environments they will be expected to train and work in.

The trainees were split into two groups, with one group conducting Physical Training Instructor-led activities on the wharf.

The other group entered the water with fins on, finned to a Zodiac boat which they climbed into and out the other side, then finned to the another Zodiac and crossed underneath it, before making their way to the wharf landing to swap roles with their partner.

“This activity is designed to highlight a candidate’s strengths and areas for growth.

“In consultation with Navy Psychology, assessing staff, and PTIs, candidates are comprehensively assessed and deemed highly recommended, recommended, not yet recommended or not recommended,” Commander Doble said.

Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kaine Duncan was one of the lead Diving School instructors putting the candidates through their paces at the activity.

“We have 21 candidates undertaking this physically intense serial that combines PT on the wharf and an under and over water component,” he said.

“Safety is paramount during this activity and we have a large contingent of PTIs, Medical staff and safety-divers in the Zodiacs and water,” Petty Officer Duncan said.

For Captain Damien Scully-O’Shea, Captain Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving, committing to the aptitude assessment itself is the first step, and symbolises an initial commitment on behalf of the Clearance Diver candidates.

“The Clearance Diving aptitude assessment is exactly what its name says. It is not a ‘barrier or selection test’, it seeks to draw out defined Clearance Diver attributes, and most importantly, it assesses trainability and likelihood of success in future training,” he said.

“The Clearance Diver Aptitude Test and Clearance Diver training brings out an individuals’ best.

“Both activities demand psychological and physical resilience, cognitive ability, and a strong sense of teamwork.

“Be it during assessment, in training or on operations, Clearance Divers are always members of a team who rely on, and trust, each other entirely,” Captain Scully-O’Shea said.

Having demonstrated the aptitude, a Clearance Diver trainee will complete 50 weeks of training, including underwater damage repair, maritime mine reconnaissance and clearance and maritime explosive ordnance disposal. Qualified Clearance Divers may also contribute to the Australian Defence Force’s maritime counter-terrorism capability.

The Clearance Diver Aptitude Test is a one week activity conducted at the Australian Defence Force Dive School that assesses cognitive ability, motivation, emotional stability and team orientation.

Assessors include Clearance Divers, Mine Clearance Diving Officers, other Australian Defence Force Members and medical and psychological subject matter experts.

Candidates cover a broad section of all ranks of Australian Defence Force personnel, direct entry and in-service transfers from Navy, Army and Air Force.

The aptitude assessment and all Clearance Diver roles are open to males and females.

Australian Defence Force Diving School hosts a VIP day at HMAS Penguin, Sydney. L-R: Deputy Commander Australian Fleet, Commodore Robert Plath, RAN; Commodore Training, Commodore Charles Huxtable, RAN; Commanding Officer HMAS Penguin Commander Bernadette Alexander, RAN; Lieutenant Samantha McKay, RAN; Warrant Officer of the Navy, Warrant Officer Deb Butterworth, OAM, CSM, and Bar.

Australian Defence Force Diving School hosts a VIP day at HMAS Penguin, Sydney. L-R: Deputy Commander Australian Fleet, Commodore Robert Plath, RAN; Commodore Training, Commodore Charles Huxtable, RAN; Commanding Officer HMAS Penguin Commander Bernadette Alexander, RAN; Lieutenant Samantha McKay, RAN; Warrant Officer of the Navy, Warrant Officer Deb Butterworth, OAM, CSM, and Bar.