Navy divers perform a wide range of tasks in support of Defence Force missions. Clearance Divers (CD) are full-time specialist divers, who undertake diving, demolitions, explosive ordnance disposal and improvised explosive device disposal. The primary focus of the CD is to perform Explosive Ordnance Disposal. The CD is capable of locating and destroying or recovering underwater ordnance and Improvised explosive device disposal. This role is conducted at sea in ships, in the oceans (particularly the vulnerable approaches to ports and anchorages), and onshore in port facilities, installations and the littoral environment associated with amphibious operations.
Tasks Performed on the Job
- Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)
- Improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD)
- Mine counter measures
- Maritime tactical operations
Responsibilities and Challenges
As with other types of divers, Clearance Divers need to maintain a sufficient standard of efficiency and fitness so that he is able to carry out his duties successfully and safety and at short notice. The clearance diver is personally responsible for ensuring that he undertakes the appropriate medical examinations so that he remains ‘in date’. The diver is personally responsible for ensuring that his equipment has been prepared, maintained and tested correctly before each dive.
The Challenges of Clearance Diving
- Ensuring a professional standard of work, both mentally and physically.
- Integrating the requirements of the task, supervisor and situation at all times whilst retaining the ability to think and respond individually and maturely.
Highlights and Rewards
The rewards of Clearance Diving come with maintaining the high standard of capability necessary to ensure mission readiness. This is achieved through constant training and team cohesion. Clearance Diving gives the individual not only the chance to achieve civilian diving qualification equivalencies, but also high levels of underwater experience through repair work, tactical diving and teamwork training. It is exciting work that means working where around the world ever military operations are being conducted. A lot of the operations deal with searching for and then neutralising explosive devices and carrying out underwater search and salvage missions.
They’re not merely underwater EOD teams though – while underwater repairs and demolitions are one of their core skills, they have a diverse range of roles. They have excellent infantry skills, can board and clear ships, are capable of reconnaissance close to shore – as well as Counter-Terrorist duties in Tactical Assault Group East.
During their careers, Australian CDs will be rotated through the following sea and shore positions:
Huon Class Mine Hunter Coastal (MHC) Vessels
Employment for CDs posted to these ships includes upper deck Seaman part-of-ship duties during sea service within Australia and overseas. Specialist diving duties involve the use of self-contained mixed gas equipment for mine-counter measures tasks. Mine-counter measures missions focus on the prosecution and disposal of sea mines. These ships are based at HMAS WATERHEN in Sydney.
Clearance Diving Teams (CDTs)
CDs can be employed in the following operational CDT elements:
Maritime Tactical Operations (MTO): MTO missions include diving on 100% oxygen, using self-contained, closed-circuit re-breather equipment that does not give off tell-tale exhaust gases, for specialist operations underwater and ashore.
Mine Counter-Measures (MCM): CDT MCM missions are similar to MHC MCM missions, but CDT MCM missions focus on specialist shore-based operations.
Underwater Battle Damage Repair (UBDR): UBDR missions include diving on surface-supplied and self-contained air equipment, primarily for the maintenance and repair of ships’ underwater fittings. These missions can involve the use of underwater electric, explosive-power, hydraulic and pneumatic tools for major repairs and salvage operations.
Tactical Assault Group (East) (TAG (E))
CDs are employed in Special Forces roles at the TAG (E). TAG (E) is part of 2 Commando Regiment. TAG (E) maintains a short notice capability to conduct special military operations, using a variety of specialist skill-sets that include the extensive use of small arms.
CDs are also posted to the RAN Diving School, located at HMAS PENGUIN in Sydney, for instructional duties. Besides the RAN Diving School, there are several administrative support positions for CDs around Australia.
- Applicants must pass a preliminary dive test of suitability for diving training, a three-week shallow water diving course using self-contained air equipment, and a two-week Clearance Diving Acceptance Test before qualifying for the 30-week Basic CD (BCD) Course. Only on graduation from the BCD Course do applicants become CDs.
- The CD category is limited to male applicants only.
How to Become a Clearance Diver
The SCUBA (Air) course is the entry point for all diving in the RAN and RNZN and the standards for the course are consistent irrespective of career path. Within 12 months of commencing SCUBA (Air) training, all candidates have to undergo diving medical and dental examinations, followed by a suitability test.
Candidates have to maintain a fitness program to meet the minimum standards of fitness.
Training emphasis is on fulfilling the roles of the RNZN or RAN. The courses cover underwater search skills and general maintenance, inspections of ships bottoms and wharves. More advanced courses (e.g. SSBA diving to 30m and above) cover training such as Mine Counter Measures and deep dive recovery and ordinance disposal / detection.
ADAS Diver Training Establishments providing Clearance Diver training:
- Royal Australian Navy (RAN) – available only to persons within the RAN
- Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) – available only to persons within the RNZN
Thanks to Jack Rudolph (RNZN) and Taff Sweeney (RAN) for contributing to this web page.