Divers prepare for multinational exercise in Guam

Navy News / August 29, 2019

By Peter Mallett

Clearance divers from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) are making final preparations for a multinational training exercise in Guam.

Eight personnel from the dive unit and two from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) will head to the U.S. territory in August for Exercise HYDRACRAB. 

The 12-day exercise involves approximately 100 military personnel and is being hosted by the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five.

The exercise also involves units of the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marines, two clearance diver teams from Australia, and one team from New Zealand.

The purpose of the exercise is to give military personnel greater experience in improvised explosive device (IED) disposal near port and jetty facilities, and coordinate those efforts with other nations, says Lieutenant (Navy) (Lt(N)) Sebastian Harper, Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) Operations Officer.

“It’s very important for us to know how to work with our allies and have a common procedural understanding before a conflict breaks out,” says Lt(N) Harper, who will be Officer in Tactical Command of the Canadian contingent. “It helps us find common ground and will make things more predictable when they need to rely on us in a real-life situation, and vice versa.”

Fleet Diving Unit members will act as an IED support unit during the exercise. The team will be pushed to its limits, rendering safe IEDs in a high tempo semi-permissive maritime environment, says Lt(N) Harper. They will also assist specially trained boarding parties from the Marines to defuse IEDs during operations involving smuggling, interdiction and other scenarios.

Some of the biggest hurdles to overcome for multinational training exercises such as these often occur well before boots are on the ground, says Lt(N) Harper.

“Getting our personnel and equipment to these locations can be challenging. Knowing how to move to a location quickly and efficiently will mean that we can react to an international conflict in short order.”

Lt(N) Harper says the team members will need time to acclimatize before they start their work due to the extreme climate. Their equipment will include dismounted IED tools, air diving equipment and personal defence weapons.

Courtesy of Lookout