Divers sharpen their claws

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author), US Department of Defence (photographer)

Location(s): Santa Rita, Guam

Topic(s): Exercises, Clearance Diving Teams

Clearance Divers from Australia and the United States share knowledge during Exercise HYDRACRAB 2019. (photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Billy Ho)
Clearance Divers from Australia and the United States share knowledge during Exercise HYDRACRAB 2019.

Explosive experts from the Royal Australian Navy’s Clearance Diving Teams One and Four have joined their counterparts from three other navies for Exercise HYDRACRAB in Guam.

The quadrilateral exercise brought together more than a hundred sailors specialising in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States to practice operating together in an Indo-Pacific environment.

Eighteen Australian personnel in two EOD teams, plus a small command element, took the opportunity to exchange subject matter expertise with the other participating teams.

Commanding Officer of the Royal Australian Navy’s Clearance Diving Team One, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Mobbs, said HYDRACRAB had given all four participating nations invaluable experience working together in a training environment as dynamic as a real-world operation.

“The United States Navy has considerable resources available to provide high end warfighter training, and this gives our EOD technicians the opportunity to integrate with partner forces and be challenged in ways hard to emulate in Australia,” Lieutenant Commander Mobbs said.

“Our Clearance Divers have been conducting high end mine counter-measures and EOD warfighting scenarios integrated with partner nation Marine, Air and Naval Forces and this will culminate in a training mission event combining all forces.”

In addition to EOD training, the Australian forces have also practiced fast-roping from United States Navy helicopters, small arms marksmanship skills and support to boarding operations.

Seaman Clearance Diver Peter Greed said the opportunity to exchange knowledge and gain hands on experience with an allied nation’s equipment was just as important as the training serials.

“Exposure to how other forces refine their skillsets and getting a chance to see emerging EOD technology highlights where we should focus our own efforts to test our own skillsets and remain at the forefront of our trade,” Seaman Greed said.

“We work with the US, Canada and New Zealand regularly in other multinational exercises but it’s important for us to practice how we interoperate so we’re ready to fight together.”

Navy’s Clearance Diving Teams are specialist units responsible for search and disposal of explosive ordnance, reconnaissance of the littoral environment, and underwater damage repair.

Australian Clearance Diving Teams One and Four are based in in Sydney, New South Wales and Perth Western Australia respectively.