Many of the Department of Defense’s elite combat forces have divers who take part in maritime security operations. These specially trained divers often conduct clandestine missions in hostile areas throughout the world. Some of these divers include:
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Techs
Bomb squads aren’t just for land lovers. EOD divers are needed to defuse floating and subsurface naval mines, as well as underwater improvised explosive devices.
They also investigate explosion sites. If a blast causes damage to a ship’s hull, for example, EOD divers will probe the blast field, map and collect evidence, and they’ll search the detonation area for debris. They’ll then try to reconstruct the explosive device after the dive to learn what they can from it.
They also get to do cool searches, like explore this sunken tank from World War II!
Air Force Pararescuemen:
These airmen do whatever it takes to save a life, including parachuting, rock climbing and SCUBA diving into hostile territory to rescue, recover and return wounded service members. They’re trained in emergency medical tactics, as well as combat and survival skills.
Salvage and Repair Crews:
These divers recover sunken equipment (such as the tanker above), as well as inspect and clean ships, which often get barnacles, slime and other marine growth stuck to their hulls and propellers. They also help repair battle-damaged ships.
Plenty of non-combat dive missions are also conducted in America and around the world, including the following:
Military divers can be called upon during a crisis, such as during Hurricane Katrina, where they helped clear debris from underwater roadways. After the deadly Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007, military divers helped the Army Corps of Engineers and authorities in charge manage the disaster and recovery efforts.
That humanitarian help spans the globe, too. Army Staff Sgt Samuel Winter, an instructor at the Army Diver Phase 1 Course I visited, was on a team sent to Haiti after the massive earthquake in 2010. He and his crew helped reconstruct the pier in Port-au-Prince that was desperately needed to transfer supplies. To get a feel for how hard the work is, Winter said the mission involved more than 260 underwater concrete pours.
Search-and-Rescue and Recovery Operations:
Divers are often called upon for search-and-rescue missions, as well as recovering human remains. They help the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency find missing vets from World War II, the Vietnam War and other conflicts. Winter himself spent time in 2011 on a mission in Cambodia, where his team helped recover a soldier missing since Vietnam.
Surveying and Repairing Waterways:
Divers might be called upon to help agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with environmental protection, such as removing debris from important coral reefs or repairing data-collecting buoys that can help predict bad weather. They are also used to survey dams along rivers and inspecting seawalls at military installations.
These are just some of the cool things that military divers get to do. Do you think you’re up for the challenge? If so, share or tweet this story with the hashtag #ForceoftheFuture!