Officer Cadets under training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) have been given an insight into the Royal Navy’s Mine Clearance Diving branch during a visit to the College by the Southern Diving Unit One (SDU1).
The Unit, based in Plymouth, gave the Cadets a brief on their role in bomb disposal at sea as well as on land.
They also spoke about their ability to provide diving support to the Fleet for underwater engineering and mine clearance purposes.The Cadets were able to ask questions and look at the specialist equipment used by the unit.
Lieutenant Commander Ross Balfour, the Officer-in-Charge of SDU1, said:
“The purpose of our visit to BRNC is to raise the profile of clearance diving within the young Officer cadre and to give the Cadets a chance to engage with us and hopefully spark their enthusiasm for a future career in Mine Clearance Diving.
“Many of them will not come into contact with us on a regular basis, but it will be useful for them to have an understanding of the skills that we can provide, as their careers progress.
“SDU1 remains at 10 minutes notice to move 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide bomb disposal and diving expertise in support of national security across a very large area of the United Kingdom.
“The team also maintains an element at readiness in support of emergencies and underwater engineering world wide.”
The visit came at an opportune moment for five Cadets who are interested in specialising as Clearance Divers. Midshipman James Broad said:
“I’ve got my diver fitness test this afternoon, so this has given me a good insight into what I could end up doing.”
Clearance divers are a sub-specialisation of the Royal Navy Warfare Officer branch. Lieutenant John Hunnibell, the BRNC staff Mine Clearance and Diving Officer (MCDO) said:
“A visit like this is of enormous benefit to the Cadets, particularly those who aspire to be a MCDO.
“For those who have shown an interest we’ve arranged some introductory fitness tests and a scuba try-dive here at the College, which will provide them with an awareness of the level of fitness required to obtain a place on the MCDO course.
“When they get to HMS Collingwood for the next stage of their Warfare Officers course, they will undertake their clearance diver selection test, which will decide whether or not they are suitable for the role.”
Before being accepted on the course Cadets must obtain their Bridge Warfare Qualification, which they can achieve during their first appointment at sea.
Lt Hunnibell said:
“It requires a driven personality to complete the MCDO course and accept the significant responsibility relatively early into an Officer’s career.
“The mental and physical challenges of being an MCDO, along with huge job variety, good prospects for foreign exchange assignments and the considerable financial reward make the MCD branch a hugely attractive one for many young warfare branch officers.”
Press Release, June 10, 2013; Image: Royal Navy