Clearance Diving Branch (RAN)

The Clearance Diving Branch is the specialist diving unit of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) whose versatile role covers all spheres of military diving, and includes explosive ordnance disposal and maritime counter-terrorism. The Branch has evolved from traditional maritime diving, and explosive ordnance disposal, to include a special operations focus.[5]

Clearance Diving Branch
Clearance Diving Branch
Clearance Diving Branch Badge
Active1951–present
CountryAustralia
BranchRoyal Australian Navy
TypeClearance diving
Role
SizeTwo AUSCDT
Part ofMine Warfare and Clearance Diving Group
Garrison/HQHMAS Waterhen, New South Wales
HMAS Stirling, Western Australia
Nickname(s)Bubbleheads
Bubblies
Motto(s)United and Undaunted
EngagementsVietnam War
Gulf War
East Timor
Iraq War
Afghanistan
DecorationsMeritorious Unit Citation[1][2]
Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
Navy Unit Commendation (United States)[3]
Meritorious Unit Commendation (United States)[4]

History

The RAN has used divers on a regular basis since the 1920s, but it was not until World War II that clearance diving operations came to the fore, with RAN divers working alongside Royal Navy divers to remove naval mines from British waters, and from the waters of captured ports on the European mainland such as Hugh Syme, John Mould, George Gosse and Leon Goldsworthy all highly decorated.[6] RAN divers were also used in performing duties including reconnaissance of amphibious landing sites.[6] The skills learned in the European theatre were brought back to Australia, and used in the war against Japan.[6] After the war, RAN divers were used during the clean-up of Australian and Papua New Guinea waters of defensive mines.[6]

US Navy 030321-N-4655M-037 Coalition Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team members inspect camouflaged mines hidden inside oil barrels on the deck of an Iraqi shipping barge
Inspecting clandestine naval mines in the Persian Gulf, 2003.

The utility of clearance and commando divers demonstrated during and after World War II prompted the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board to establish a clearance diving branch within the RAN in 1951.[7][8] Divers were initially attached to the Underwater Research and Development Unit, based at HMAS Rushcutter.[9] In 1956, they were organised into a separate Mobile Clearance Diving Team.[7][9] In March 1966, the divers underwent further reorganisation, splitting into two Clearance Diving Teams.[9] Clearance Diving Team 1 (CDT 1) was the operational team assigned to mine clearance and reconnaissance operations throughout the Australia Station, while Clearance Diving Team 2 (CDT 2) was dedicated to mine warfare in the Sydney area, but was not cleared for operations outside this area.[10]

In late 1966, Clearance Diving Team 3 (CDT 3) was established specifically for deployment to the Vietnam War to assist the overworked United States Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, and to give RAN personnel in clearance diving work in an operational environment.[11] Sending CDT 1 or CDT 2, in full or in part, would have impacted on the teams' existing commitments, along with the continuity of training and postings.[12] CDT 3 was formed from available personnel; this was sufficient to keep a six-man team on station in Vietnam from early 1967 until early 1971, with six-month deployments.[13] CDT 3 was disbanded at the end of the Vietnam War, but the designation is reactivated for overseas wartime deployments, including in 1991 for the Gulf War, and again in 2003 for the Iraq War.[14]

Structure

160724-N-IK388-012 Exercise RIMPAC 16 Clearance Diver
Clearance Diver preparing to conduct a maritime tactical operations dive using Divex Shadow Excursion rebreather during Exercise RIMPAC 2016 in Southern California

The Clearance Diving Branch consists of units:-

For overseas operational deployments, the designation of Clearance Diving Team Three (AUSCDT3) is used for a specifically formed team.

The Royal Australian Naval Reserve has eight Reserve Diving Teams (ANRDT) which provide supplementary or surge capability in support of regular CDTs in addition to localised fleet underwater taskings:[15][16]

  • Reserve Diving Team Five (ANRDT5) – based at HMAS Waterhen
  • Reserve Diving Team Six (ANRDT6) – based in Melbourne
  • Reserve Diving Team Seven (ANRDT7) – based at HMAS Stirling
  • Reserve Diving Team Eight (ANRDT8) – based in Brisbane
  • Reserve Diving Team Nine (ANRDT9) – based in Adelaide
  • Reserve Diving Team Ten (ANRDT10) – based in Hobart
  • Reserve Diving Team Eleven (ANRDT11) – based in Darwin
  • Reserve Diving Team Twelve (ANRDT12) – based in Cairns

Role

160517-N-ON977-026 Exercise Tricrab 2016 Clearance Divers
Clearance Divers prepare to enter the water during a Very Shallow Water (VSW) scenario during Exercise Tricrab 2016 in Guam

The Clearance Diving Branch force elements are:[17][Note 1]

1. Maritime Tactical Operations (MTO):[18][19][20]

  • Clandestine beach reconnaissance (including back of beach operations up to 2 km inland)[21]
  • Clandestine hydrographic survey of seabed prior to an amphibious assault
  • Clandestine clearance or demolition of sea mines and/or obstacles
  • Clandestine placing of demolitions charges for the purpose of diversion or demonstration (ship/wharf attacks)
  • Clandestine document collection

2. Mine Counter Measures (MCM):[19][22]

  • Location and disposal of sea mines in shallow waters
  • Rendering safe and recovering enemy mines
  • The search for and disposal of ordnance below the high water mark
  • Clearance of surface ordnance in port or on naval facilities
  • Search for, rendering safe or disposal of all ordnance in RAN ships and facilities
Flickr - Official U.S. Navy Imagery - A Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team performs an underwater search.
Clearance Diver performs an underwater search with a handheld sonar during Exercise RIMPAC 2012 in Pearl Harbour

3. Underwater Battle Damage Repair (UBDR):[19][23]

  • Surface supplied breathing apparatus diving
  • Use of underwater tools including welders, explosive nailguns and pneumatic drills and chainsaws

4. Task Group Explosive Ordnance Disposal (TGEOD):[24][5]

  • Embarking on warships for Operation MANITOU rotations in the Middle East to provide specialist support for boarding parties with improvised explosive devices (IED) and explosive ordnance[25][26][5]

5. Maritime counter terrorism-explosive ordnance disposal (MCT-EOD):[17]

  • Provide explosive ordnance (EOD) and improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) mobility support to Tactical Assault Group (East and West)[17]
  • Conduct Assault Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (AIEDD) at a rapid speed to maintain the momentum of a direct assault mission[17]

A Clearance Diver may be posted to a Clearance Diving Team, Huon Class Minehunter Coastal ship, training position in the Australian Defence Force Diving School at HMAS Penguin and can apply to serve in the Tactical Assault Group-East (TAG-E).[27]

Since January 2002, Special Duties Units of Clearance Divers from AUSCDT1 and AUSCDT4 have provided the maritime counter terrorism element of Tactical Assault Group-East (TAG-E), attached to the Australian Army 2nd Commando Regiment, which became operational on 22 July 2002 to respond to terrorist incidents in the Eastern States of Australia.[28][29][19][30][5] Clearance Divers need to successfully pass the Army Special Forces Screen Test and then successfully complete specific elements of Commando Reinforcement Training before serving in either the water platoon as an assaulter or in the water sniper team in the sniper platoon.[29][28][31] Service in TAG-E is normally 12 to 18 months online before rotating back into the Branch with divers able to rotate back into TAG-E after 12 to 18 months offline.[5]

Selection and training

The RAN's diver training program is centred on a 10-day clearance diver acceptance test (CDAT), colloquially known as "hell week". Recruits begin each day at 02:00, and are put through over thirty staged dives designed to test their strength and endurance.[32]

Upon passing selection recruits must successfully pass a number of specialist course to become fully qualified. The Basic Clearance Diver Course spans 37 weeks whilst the Advanced Clearance Diver Course and the Clearance Diving component of the Mine warfare and Clearance Diving Officers course spans 41 weeks.[33][34]

The MCT-EOD role requires clearance divers to be familiar with TAG specialist insertion techniques including diving, fast roping and parachuting to be able to integrate into the unit to provide IED expertise.[17]

Operations

160516-N-ON977-184 Exercise Tricrab 2016 Clearance Diver
Clearance Diver inspects an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during Exercise Tricrab 2016 in Guam

See also

Notes

Footnotes
  1. ^ Since 2015, new force element names have been used such as "Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Clearance" indicating a recent restructure of the Clearance Diving Teams. In 2012, the Clearance Diving Teams had been restructured into five force elements.
Citations
  1. ^ "Kuwait (Gulf War 1990-91), Clearance Diving Team 3". Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Operation Falconer (Iraq), Clearance Diving Team 3". Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Navy Unit Commendation CDT Kuwait 1991". Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers Association. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Meritorious Unit Commendation CDT3 Vietnam 1967". Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers Association. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Linton and Donohue., Commander E.W. (Jake) and Commodore H.J (Hec) (2015). United and undaunted : the first 100 years : a history of diving in the Royal Australian Navy 1911–2011. Queanbeyan, New South Wales: Grinkle Press Pty Ltd. ISBN 9780980282153.
  6. ^ a b c d Grey, Up Top, p. 280
  7. ^ a b Perryman & Mitchell, in Oldham (ed.) 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy, p. 73
  8. ^ Grey, Up Top, pp. 280–1
  9. ^ a b c Grey, Up Top, p. 281
  10. ^ Grey, Up Top, pp. 281–2
  11. ^ Grey, Up Top, p. 282
  12. ^ Grey, Up Top, pp. 282–3
  13. ^ Grey, Up Top, pp. 282–3, 290–1, 318–9
  14. ^ Perryman & Mitchell, in Oldham (ed.) 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy, p. 74
  15. ^ Ryder, LCDR Andrew (18 May 2006). "RESERVE DIVING TEAMS – what they do, where they are and how to join" (PDF). RAN Reserve news. Vol. 13 no. 4. Victoria Barracks, QLD: Office of Director General Reserves - Navy. pp. 2–3. Libraries Australia ID 26772142. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Naval Diver". Defence Jobs. Archived from the original on 30 January 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d e Kelly, LEUT Ryan (15 August 2013). "Clearance divers go on show" (PDF). Navy news: the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy. 56 (13). Canberra: Directorate of Defence Newspapers. Libraries Australia ID 26771706. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  18. ^ Hardman, Wes. "The men who are trained to be invisible: Meet Australia's navy clearance divers". Channel Nine News. 13 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  19. ^ a b c d "Clearance Diving Teams". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  20. ^ Ker, LCDR Glenn (5 June 2003). "Float exercise first for Collins Class". Navy news: the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy. 46 (9). Canberra: Directorate of Defence Newspapers. Libraries Australia ID 26771706. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007.
  21. ^ "Navy divers plunge into Army course". Navy news: the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy. 44 (14). Canberra: Directorate of Defence Newspapers. 23 July 2001. Libraries Australia ID 26771706. Archived from the original on 24 January 2003.
  22. ^ "Clearance Diver". Defence Jobs. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Underwater Battle Damage Repair". Defence Jobs. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  24. ^ Burkhart, John; Barnes, Michael (7 November 2013). "Divers ready for Slipper" (PDF). Navy news: the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy. 56 (21). Canberra: Directorate of Defence Newspapers. Libraries Australia ID 26771706. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  25. ^ "Operation MANITOU". Australian Defence Force. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  26. ^ "Operation MANITOU". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  27. ^ Ragless, Leut. Andrew (8 September 2016). "Navy and Army divers under one roof" (PDF). Navy news: the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy. 59 (16). Canberra: Directorate of Defence Newspapers. Libraries Australia ID 26771706. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  28. ^ a b "Clearance Diver". 2nd Commando Regiment. Australian Army. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017.
  29. ^ a b O'Brien, Hugh (2014). Undaunted: From Clearance Diver to Mercenary: An Australian Man's Life on the Edge. North Sydney, NSW: Random House Australia. ISBN 9780857983480.
  30. ^ Davis, Graham (26 September 2002). "Action Team TAG – Sailors form integral part of anti-terrorist unit". Navy news: the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy. 45 (19). Canberra: Directorate of Defence Newspapers. Libraries Australia ID 26771706. Archived from the original on 17 October 2002.
  31. ^ "Team History – Tactical Assault Group (TAG)-East". RAN Clearance Divers Association. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017.
  32. ^ "Hell Week". Navy Divers (Television production). Episode 1. Sydney: ABC. 2009. OCLC 696000553.
  33. ^ "Clearance Diving Team One". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  34. ^ Watt, David (1999). "The Clearance Diving Team" (PDF). The Navy. Vol. 61 no. 4. Navy League of Australia. pp. 23–25. ISSN 1322-6231. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  35. ^ Farrell, John Hunter. "CDT Vietnam 69–70 Brown Water War" (PDF). Australian & NZ Defender. No. 4. West End: Fullbore Magazine. Libraries Australia ID 25036046. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2003.
  36. ^ Tony, Ey. "RAN Clearance Diving Team 3's War Service in South Vietnam, 1967–1971". RAN Clearance Divers Association. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017.
  37. ^ Maxwell, Eugene. "A Clearance Diver in the Gulf War – 1991". RAN Clearance Divers Association. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017.
  38. ^ "RAN Clearance Divers (CDT3) in 91 Gulf War". Australian & NZ Defender. No. 16. West End: Fullbore Magazine. Libraries Australia ID 25036046.
  39. ^ "Australian involvement in the Gulf War". Department of Veterans' Affairs. Archived from the original on 26 June 2003.
  40. ^ "CDT3 Report of Proceedings First Gulf War". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  41. ^ "CDT3 Kuwait '91". RAN Clearance Divers Association. Archived from the original on 31 December 2016.
  42. ^ Williams, LEUT Emma. "AUSCDT4 Clears Beaches and Conducts Clandestine Ops in East Timor". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 28 April 2001.
  43. ^ Caton, LEUT Richard. "AUSCDT4 hands over to AUSCDT1". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 28 April 2001.
  44. ^ Smith, Simon; Walker, Maxy. "Team Four in Timor – Divers do Dili". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 28 April 2001.
  45. ^ "CDs in E. Timor". RAN Clearance Divers Association. Archived from the original on 30 December 2016.
  46. ^ Hunter Farrell, John (September 2003). "CDT3 at Umm Qasr & Az Zubayr". Australian & NZ Defender. No. 43. West End: Fullbore Magazine. Libraries Australia ID 25036046. Archived from the original on 21 August 2006.
  47. ^ Craig, LCDR Scott. "Operation Iraqi Freedom". RAN Clearance Divers Association. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017.

References

  • Grey, Jeffrey (1998). Up Top: the Royal Australian Navy and Southeast Asian conflicts, 1955–1972. The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-290-7. OCLC 39074315.
  • Perryman, John; Mitchell, Brett (2011). "Naval Operations in Vietnam". In Oldham, Charles (ed.). 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy. Bondi Junction, NSW: Faircount Media Group. OCLC 741711418. Retrieved 20 June 2011.

External links

Clearance Diving Team

Clearance Diving Team refers to a team of Clearance divers, originally specialist naval divers who used explosives underwater to remove obstructions to make harbours and shipping channels safe to navigate, but later the term "clearance diver" was used to include other naval underwater work.

Clearance Diving Team may also refer to:

One of the two Clearance Diving Teams of the Clearance Diving Branch (RAN), unit of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), which is responsible for combat diving, clearance diving, maritime counter-terrorism and underwater repairs

Frogman

A frogman is someone who is trained in scuba diving or swimming underwater in a tactical capacity that includes police or military work. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of combat diver, combatant diver, or combat swimmer. The word frogman first arose in the stage name The Fearless Frogman of Paul Boyton in the 1870s and later was claimed by John Spence, an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy and member of the OSS Maritime Unit, to have been applied to him while he was training in a green waterproof suit.The term frogman is occasionally used to refer to a civilian scuba diver. Some sport diving clubs include the word Frogmen in their names. The preferred term by scuba users is diver, but the frogman epithet persists in informal usage by non-divers, especially in the media and often referring to professional scuba divers, such as in a police diving role.In the U.S. military and intelligence community, divers trained in scuba or CCUBA who deploy for tactical assault missions are called "combat divers". This term is used to refer to US Army Special Forces (aka Green Berets) Combat Divers, Navy SEALs/Naval Special Warfare, operatives of the CIA's Special Activities Division, elements of Marine Recon, Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen, Army Ranger Regimental Reconnaissance Company members, Air Force Pararescue, Air Force Combat Controllers, United States Air Force Special Operations Weather Technicians, and the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units. In Britain, police divers have often been called "police frogmen".Some countries' tactical diver organizations include a translation of the word frogman in their official names, e.g., Denmark's Frømandskorpset; others call themselves "combat divers" or similar. Others call themselves by indefinite names such as "special group 13" and "special operations unit".Many nations and some irregular armed groups deploy or have deployed combat frogmen.

Index of underwater diving

See the Glossary of underwater diving terminology for definitions of technical terms, jargon, diver slang and acronyms used in underwater diving

See the Outline of underwater diving for a hierararchical listing of underwater diving related articles

See the Index of underwater divers for an alphabetical listing of articles about underwater divers

See the Index of recreational dive sites for an alphabetical listing of articles about places which are recreational dive sitesThe following index is provided as an overview of and topical guide to underwater diving:

Underwater diving can be described as all of the following:

A human activity – intentional, purposive, conscious and subjectively meaningful sequence of actions. Underwater diving is practiced as part of an occupation, or for recreation, where the practitioner submerges below the surface of the water or other liquid for a period which may range between seconds to order of a day at a time, either exposed to the ambient pressure or isolated by a pressure resistant suit, to interact with the underwater environment for pleasure, competitive sport, or as a means to reach a work site for profit or in the pursuit of knowledge, and may use no equipment at all, or a wide range of equipment which may include breathing apparatus, environmental protective clothing, aids to vision, communication, propulsion, maneuverability, buoyancy and safety equipment, and tools for the task at hand.

Minedykkerkommandoen

Minedykkerkommandoen (MDK) or Norwegian Naval EOD Command is a clearance diver group. MDK is subordinate to Norwegian Navy Special Warfare Group Marinens Jegervåpen, which is a division of the Royal Norwegian Navy. MDK is located at Haakonsvern Naval Base in Bergen and Ramsund Naval Base, in vicinity of Harstad.

The Commando is part of the naval contribution to the Norwegian Armed Forces Intervention Force, and the command's personnel have taken part in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Baltic states and Mediterranean, among others. The unit is often on assignment for the Norwegian Police Service with bomb disposal.

Minentaucher

For other nations' naval work divers, see Clearance Diver.Minentaucher (Mine Clearance Divers) are particularly trained military divers of the German Navy. Their operational areas are:

Searching, identifying, and removing or salvaging underwater weapons such as mines or explosives in the water.

Servicing underwater drones.

Removing weapons in water and ashore, in particular removing explosives attached by enemies to hulls and underwater equipment.

Rescuing and salvaging.Mine Clearance Divers are highly qualified specialists, who are stationed partly on board schwimmenden Einheiten (= "swimming units"), which can be ordered to be in standby if necessary. A part of the trained mine clearance divers is available as a special-purpose force in the mine clearance diver company in Eckernförde.

In 2001 the Bataillon Spezialisierter Kräfte (= "Battalion of Specialized Forces") was separated from the German commando frogmen group.

The Bataillon Spezialisierter Kräfte (SEK M) (= "Specialized Task Forces Battalion" was formed by the transformation of 2003. SEK M was divided further into the Kampfschwimmerkompanie (= "combat diver company", one mine clearance diver company, and two naval companies for special employments (e.g. boarding ships), a training inspection, and further support elements. On 1 April 2014 the Minentaucherkompanie became an integral part of the newly formed Naval Force Protection Battalion (Seebataillon).See de:Bild:MiTa Wappen.JPG for the coat of arms of the Minentaucherkompanie.

Outline of underwater diving

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to underwater diving:

Underwater diving – as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment.

Royal Australian Navy minesweeping after World War II

Following World War II the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was required to clear naval mines from the waters around Australia and New Guinea. Minesweeping in these areas began in December 1945 and was completed in August 1948. One ship, the Bathurst class corvette HMAS Warrnambool, was sunk during these operations.

Tactical assault group

A Tactical Assault Group (TAG) is an Australian Defence Force special forces unit tasked with responding to counter-terrorism incidents in Australia on land and maritime environments and also with conducting overseas special recovery operations.At present there are two tactical assault groups based on opposite sides of the country. As such they are individually identified as being either TAG East, based in Sydney or TAG West, based in Perth. Both groups are structured to conduct offensive domestic counter-terrorist operations focusing on direct action and hostage recovery.Each assault group maintains a short notice capability to conduct military operations beyond the scope of State and Federal Police Tactical Groups. These aims are achieved through various highly specialised skill sets, niche capabilities and supporting Australian Defence Force (ADF) units such as those from the Special Operations Engineer Regiment and 171st Aviation Squadron.

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