The Commercial Diver Network
Hey everyone with today being ANZAC Day in aussie i thought some people might find whats below intresting ...and the photo attached oh yeah i rememeber doing that!!
Australian Special Operations Forces
Clearance Diving Teams
The Royal Australian Navy has two fully operational CDTs which incorporate local Australian Naval Reserve (RANR) divers.
The teams are deployed such that AUSCDT ONE is based at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney and AUSCDT FOUR is based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.
The AUSCDTs are under the operational command of the Maritime Commander Australia.
Administrative control is delegated to Commander Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Forces (COMAUSMINDIVFOR) with operational control delegated to COMAUSMINDIVFOR as required.
The Clearance Diving Teams are divided into task elements which are capable of deploying separately or in combination with the other elements.
Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)
MCM Operations include:
|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, and|
|the search for, rendering safe or disposal of all ordnance in RAN ships and facilities, including the removal of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).|
Maritime Tactical Operations
The Maritime Tactical Operations element of the AUSCDTs is capable of carrying out any one of the following amphibious missions:
|clandestine hydrographic survey of an amphibious beach,|
|clandestine clearance or demolition of sea/land mines and/or obstacles, and|
|clandestine placing of charges, demolitions for the purpose of diversion or demonstration.|
Underwater Battle Damage Repair
AUSCDTs maintain an underwater battle damage repair capability for temporary repairs including underwater patching and plugging, limited underwater cutting and welding, salvage and repair/replacement of underwater fittings.
Diving in the RAN
The RAN established its Clearance Diving Branch in 1951 and adopted the motto' UNITED and UNDAUNTED'.
However, the introduction of the Clearance Diving Breathing Apparatus (CDBA) in 1955 marked the true beginning of the clearance diver and the start of an era for the new branch.
Since then the RAN Clearance Diving Branch has kept up with world diving technology.
The equipment used is state of the art and their techniques are regarded as world leading.
The clearance diving course spans 32 weeks for the basic clearance diver and 49 weeks for both advanced clearance divers and clearance diving officers.
Clearance Diving Teams in Vietnam
In May 1966 the RAN's underwater Clearance Diving Team 1 (CDT1) spent a short period in Vietnam working with USN divers.
Almost a year later the Australian government announced the deployment of Clearance Diving Team 3.
This team was made up of personnel from the RAN's two existing diving teams, CDT1 and CDT2, and after a period of additional training arrived in Vietnam on 6 February 1967.
RAN CDT 3 was primarily employed in clearing rivers and shipping channels of mines and booby traps laid by the Viet Cong.
This normally dangerous task was made especially so by the murky conditions under which the divers had to work.
Other tasks assigned to the divers included salvage work and assisting in trawler and ship searches.
Regular searches were also conducted of Australian Army water transport and other RAN ships.
This task was known as Operation STABLE DOOR and was intended to protect and secure South Vietnamese ports and military shipping from sabotage by the Viet Cong.
As part of this operation RAN clearance divers conducted over 7500 ship searches.
While the Clearance Divers operated as a distinct unit a number of personnel were attached for short intervals to USN diving teams.
Such attachments provided the RAN clearance divers with valuable experience and exposure to other operating techniques.
Perhaps the most unusual request for assistance received by the RAN clearance divers came from the US Army 36th Evacuation Hospital -
they had just admitted a patient who had eaten some C-4 explosive and the RAN were called on to defuse it!!
The US Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation confers on the recipient the right to wear a distinctive pennant, a green pennant with yellow, blue and scarlet horizontal stripes top and bottom. In addition, members of the ship's company serving in the ship during the period for which the citation is awarded, wear a separate ribbon.
The Commendation, established in July 1967, is a highly valued honour and during the period of the Vietnam war, had no equivalent in the Australian system of awards. The award may be made to any unit of the US Navy or US Marine Corps which has distinguished itself in combat or non-combat situations with valorous or meritorious achievements. The award ranks immediately below that of the US Navy Unit Commendation.
The award may also be conferred upon units of armed forces of nations serving with the armed forces of the United States, providing that these units meet the standards established for US Navy and US Marine Corps units.
The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in presenting the Meritorious Unit Commendation to RAN Clearance Diving Team Three for service as set forth in the following citation:
For meritorious achievement while conducting defence and surveillance operations in the harbors of Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang, in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 19 February through 30 June 1967. As a part of the Inshore Undersea Warfare Group ONE, Western Pacific Detachment, the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team THREE displayed well-coordinated effort and exemplary performance of duty during the planning and establishment phase of the counterinsurgency operations. Although operating in an environment where the United States Navy had virtually no past experience, detachment personnel were instrumental in denying enemy forces freedom of movement within assigned harbors. Harbor Defence units detected, boarded and searched large numbers of suspect junks and craft, contributing significantly to the curtailment of acts of sabotage and the flow of enemy supplies. Through their initiative, versatility, reliability and professional competence, the officers and men of the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team THREE reflected great credit upon themselves and the Royal Australian Navy, and upheld the highest traditions of the naval service.
RAN clearance divers specialise in clearing sea-mines and other explosive objects in shallow water and coastal areas. Whenever they are deployed overseas in a combat zone, they form a unit called Clearance Diving Team 3, or CDT3. In March and April 1991, in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, CDT3 went into action for the first time since Vietnam. Twenty-three Australian divers cleared several Kuwaiti ports, a naval base, and a number of beaches.
From March to May 2003, 32 divers were deployed to the same region, this time operating in Iraq itself. One of their early tasks was clearing the port of Umm Qasr. Working in muddy water with zero visibility, they located a sunken minelayer with live sea-mines aboard. They also worked on land, checking port buildings for booby-traps and helping British commandos clear unexploded mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades from the town.
Later they moved north to clear another port at Khawr Az Zubayr and, demonstrating their versatility, also conducted mine clearance patrols on the Al Faw peninsula, along the shores of the Khawr ’Abd Allah waterway. Finally, the divers helped clear sea-mines, anti-submarine mortars, and other ordnance from a major storage area attached to the Iraqi navy’s mine warfare school.
The Silver Anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy’s Clearance Diving Branch was celebrated this month and to mark the occasion we are publishing extracts from United and Undaunted by Lieutenant Commander Ross Blue, commanding Clearance Diving Team 2 at HMAS Penguin.
The book, published by the RAN Historical Society, is the first history of this unusual branch of the service. The incidents described in this article are random selections reaching back to the earliest days of naval diving.
THE FIRST RECORD OF DIVING in Australian waters was written by the Dutchman Francisco Pelsaert in the log of the Sardam in September 1629. Divers from this vessel recovered ten treasure chests from the Batavia on a reef off the Abrolhos Islands and 333 years later divers from the Clearance Diving Branch dived on the same ship. Divers from the Endeavour examined underwater damage to the bark’s hull when she went aground on the Barrier Reef in May 1770. The Australian Auxiliary Squadron in the mid 1890s employed divers for similar tasks and Garden Island records show that a diving bell was used by that Squadron.
At the outbreak of World War II, the divers of the RAN were very much a group orientated to minor underwater maintenance and searches, using a small range of tools in relatively shallow water. Training was still the role of the Gunnery Branch, being conducted at Cerberus. To generalise, diving was an unsophisticated business. However, this was soon to change and, in several new spheres of warfare, the involvements of RAN personnel laid the groundwork for the formation of the Branch as it now exists.
Render Mines Safe
The advent of the German aircraft laid influence mine during the ‘Phoney War’ of 1939-1940 brought slow but decisive changes in the RAN’s involvement with the disposal of unexploded ordnance. The way was led by a group of young RANVR officers who, after being mobilised in September 1940, sailed to the UK and volunteered for the Render Mines Safe (RMS) Section, Royal Navy. Initially, four were selected and they were followed in 1942 and 1943 by others. All performed sterling acts of courage and resource while helping to solve the mysteries of acoustic and magnetic mine mechanisms. Not all of these volunteers survived their particularly hazardous work but of those who did, the record is almost beyond modem comprehension.
Lieutenant H.R. Syme RANVR was awarded the George Medal in June 1941, a bar to the GM in June 1942 and the George Cross in August 1943, the latter after he had returned to Australia as an instructor.
Lieutenant Commander L.V. Goldsworthy RANVR, engaged in RMS in 1943 and 1944, was awarded the GM and GC in 1944 and a DSC in 1945.
Lieutenant Commander J.S. Mould RANVR was involved with RMS Section from 1941 to 1943 and was awarded both the GM and GC in 1942.
Australians were also involved with RMS outside the UK. In March 1941, LS H. Fennemore was coopted to the Suez Canal Mine Clearance Party and spent 9 months clearing GC and GD Mines, operating in Standard Dress. For his efforts he was awarded the DSM and his records relate the difficulties involved in working on influence mines in a c**bersome rig. Markings were almost impossible to read, the diver had to move crabwise to allow use of the hands (which could not be raised overhead) and the attendant had particular problems in trying not to restrict his diver’s movements on the job.
Commencing in mid 1946, an RMS party under Croft and Batterham (ex ‘P’-Parties) worked long and hard to clear the Rabaul/Tarangau area. With Navy taking the lead and POWs providing the labour, large stocks of mines and torpedoes were disposed of. Probably the largest single task undertaken was the rendering safe of a US 5,000lb bomb which, because of its size, could not be demolished onsite and had to be defused and dumped at sea. In a signal dated September 1946, the NOIC New Guinea foresaw ‘at least one RMS party of three, as well as an Army UXB party, involved for years to come’. He was right; the task is still in progress 30 years later.
The decision to form a CD Branch had no immediate effect on the existing level of RMS and Diving operations. Commissioned Gunners such as Dave Smith and Des Mooney continued the never ending task of mine disposal in the Barrier Reef and the Port Diving Party had its share of local tasks which became memorable. One involved Diver 3, ‘Blue’ Purdy, Max Boyle and the attendant Allan Jones. Working out of PDP in 1951, their job involved a survey of outlet conduits from the Bunnerong Power House, Sydney. At work in rather poor conditions, Purdy suddenly was immobilised by a falling metal grate. Getting clear was an exercise reflecting great coolness and patience as the diver hacksawed through the grate above him until he could struggle clear. Allan Jones remembers the day well, if being all the more vivid for the gentle comments made by the diver after the incident.
Joe Flahety very nearly became the first CD victim of the underwater environment in December 1953. Diving in the Captain Cook Dock, he was attacked by a stingray and nearly killed as the sting pierced his hips, chest and neck. Joe recovered after a spell in hospital but the Ray, 7′2″ across the wings, was captured in the dock and his main armament now adorns the Diving museum.
The hazards were not always natural. ABs Jack Dodd and Alec Donald were coopted from HMAS Karangi in 1954 to dive on moorings in the Monte Bello Islands. The moorings had been used during the UK atomic test program the year before and were to be recovered for inspection. The lift was achieved but a Geiger counter check on the two divers soon after showed both to be rather ‘hot’ with radiation. Donald recalls the subsequent cleaning program as the most thorough he ever experienced, and the gear was written off - a small price to pay.
Late in 1958, the team was temporarily involved with the making of the film On The Beach, certainly not the last time that the CD would face the cameras.
In March 1960, a Department of Civil Aviation helicopter crashed into Melton Weir, 30 miles north west of Melbourne. Lieutenant Bill Willcox, now OIC of MCDT, and 4 divers (Bingham, Luhrman, Fitzgerald and Flahety) were called to assist. This group combined with Victorian Police (who were RAN trained) to search the weir. After 5 days, sufficient wreckage had been recovered to allow the investigators to reconstruct the likely cause. Len Luhrman remembered ‘the water was the darkest I have ever encountered, it was just as black at 10 feet as it was at 70 feet on the bottom of the weir’.
Later in the year, a more serious tragedy occurred when a Fokker Friendship aircraft crashed into the sea off Mackay in Queensland. To assist HMA Ships Warrego and Kimbla, MCDT were despatched and in the succeeding days recovered the aircraft and remains. Lt A. Wright RN and AB Harry Bingham of the MCDT were awarded the MBE and BEM respectively. Leut W.J. Roberts of HMAS Warrego, a shallow water diver, was also awarded the MBE and subsequently joined the CD ranks in 1961.
Early in 1961, the Snowy Mountains Authority had a major problem in the Lake Euc**bene Dam. A leak had developed in a temporary sealing device at the entrance to the Lake diversion tunnel and the only practical method of checking the trouble was by diver inspection. The job was in 260 feet and although the RAN CDs had only worked regularly to depths around 100 feet, these were the only divers capable of the attempt. A composite team was formed in Rushcutter under the direction of Leut Titcombe and, after the procurement of Special-to-task equipment and a short deep diving workup, the job was tackled. The work was protracted and done in freezing conditions. To remove twenty 3½ ton racks from the side of the 230 foot intake tower and twenty eight 5 ton ’stop logs’ sealing the tunnel inside the tower was a major evolution for men working in a completely new depth environment with new equipment. Their perseverance in the face of nitrogen narcosis and decompression stoppages (which lasted up to 1½ hours for a 15 minute task time) was nothing short of Spartan. The SDC was utilised to improve conditions during decompression and pure oxygen was eventually employed to shorten stoppage times but the overall picture was never pleasant. As the job dragged on winter set in, lowering the water temperature still further and raising the level of the Lake to increase the decompression problem, but the leak was defeated and the tower’s fittings replaced without a major injury to any team member.
As if the Branch had not received sufficient tests, two more air tragedies were to require CD expertise before the year was out. An RAAF F-86 Sabre Jet crashed into Darwin Harbour late in the year and a CD unit was engaged in its salvage when disaster struck the civil aviation world again.
On the night of November 30, a Viscount Airliner took off from Mascot and minutes later was reported missing. It had in fact crashed into Botany Bay with tremendous force and scattered its wreckage over a very wide area. CD personnel were recalled from the Sydney area and, in co-operation with Department of Civil Aviation and HMAS Kimbla, worked for two months recovering the fuselage, wings and the bodies of victims of the crash. Later after a long difficult search, the starboard tail plane was salvaged. The team comprised many divers before the job was complete but the initial weight was carried by Leut. Ron Hillen, POs Jake Linton, Sandy Brennan, and Allan Jones, LS Mackay, Moore, Asher, Thompson and AB Bill Caton. Apart from the disagreeable nature of the task, danger was high due to the mass of razor sharp metal present and the poor visibility and surging current. Many divers suffered bad cuts and some fell victim to sea sickness in the surge but none failed to keep going. Leut. Tom Parker, Sandy Brennan, Jake Linton and LS Norm Craven were especially named for their initiative, example and fortitude.
In 1963, the services of MCDT were again required to search for a lost aircraft. On this occasion a USAF weather reconnaissance aircraft crashed into the sea off Lorne in Victoria. Leut Len Graham and his team worked out of this unusual port, conducting towed diver searches behind the barracouta boats of the local fishermen. The depth, 140 feet, made this operation particularly difficult, with the equipment available and the area to be covered adding to the task. As it was, two weeks were spent searching for no result - no trace of the aircraft was ever located.