CNDA Web Site Forum
The Canadian Naval
Divers Association (CNDA) was founded in January 1981 at Halifax, Nova
Scotia. The founding members of the Association were: Andre Desrochers,
Stanley F. Watts, Leo Goneau, Terry Havlik, Glenn Adams, and Michael
Walsh. The first president was Stanley F. Watts and the current national
chairman is Wally Green. The three Chapter Presidents are: Vacant -
Western Chapter, Wally Green - Ottawa Chapter and Dale Silvester -
This site is published by the Canadian Naval
Divers Association (CNDA). Itís purpose is to keep the Naval Trained
Diver, both Active and Retired, informed and aware of what is happening
within CNDA and other matters pertaining to Service Diving in Canada. It
is also intended to keep you in touch with others of the diving
community who may have been your friends and diving team members from
those tremendous days in the past.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?
By Chuck Rolfe (CPO1 1951 to 1989)
are asked, "What's in it for me?" In this day and age, when value for
money is the driving force on everyone's bank account, this is a fair
question. We are pleased to respond by drawing attention to the benefits
and advantages that can be gained by becoming a member of the Canadian
Naval Divers Association and maintaining your membership with the
It's our mandate to:
together in mutual friendship those who were trained as Divers at the
Naval Diving Units or Establishments.
2. Keep the members
informed of and in contact with, each other and the Association by means
of Communication Lists, newsletters, meetings, Reunions, socials, etc.
3. Mutually support each other as necessary.
4. Provide a
central record of (and how they may be located) their long lost friends.
5. Maintain links with the Diving Units and other appropriate
6. Provide for establishing new Chapters, when
required, in various regions of the country.
What does all this
mean? A Quarterly newsletter (the DIPPERS DIGEST) is provided, which is
a means of contact for members searching for their long lost friends, as
well as being a forum for sending in informative articles. The
Association maintains a national Communication List which provides the
names addresses and where known, phone numbers of all Divers (not just
those who are members) of whom we are aware. This started with a small
listing of 30 Divers, increasing to 225 in 1989, and which is now well
over the 300 mark. It is encouraging to hear that some members have
already been in touch with other diving shipmates and stated that they
have even been able to visit some of their chums who they haven't seen
or heard from in over 20 to 40 years. Each Chapter also conducts social
events for their members, thereby providing for social interaction by
their members. With the meetings and triennial Reunions, it is felt that
there is now an adequate means for friends to get together. This has
been achieved in the few short years we have been active, which we
believe is quite a good record for such a young organization -WITH YOUR
SUPPORT IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER!
Clearance Diving History
Up until 1945, diving in the Canadian Navy was
conducted by Royal Navy trained hard-hat divers. Taskings were limited
to salvage and ship repair in shallow waters. Following the Second World
War, it was apparent of the need for mine-disposal divers to be utilized
for harbour defense and coastal mine clearance.
Canadian Dive Unit was formed in 1949 as a mine disposal organization.
This unit was stationed at HMCS Stadacona and training was conducted in
the United States and in England . Once enough trained personnel were
available, training of non-commissioned members began to take place in
It was quickly noticed that many of the mine-disposal
tasks duplicated the taskings of the harbour repair unit and in August
of 1952, the Diving & Ordnance Disposal School & Training Centre was
formed. This new unit conducted operations throughout Europe and Canada
's coast as well as many operations in the Artic Ocean .
going through many months of deliberation and training, the Clearance
Diver Branch of the Navy was formed. This new branch allowed for
personnel to be trained as full-time divers. Up until then, the Navy
trained divers as a secondary duty. Doing so prevented efficiency in
keeping qualified instructors and mine disposal divers. This new branch
gained a highly sought after status as a professional and rewarding
career for numerous members of the Navy and the Armed Forces of Canada.
Originally located at the French Cable Wharf in Dartmouth , the unit
moved to its present location at Shearwater in June of 1974.
Naval Diving Now
The Fleet Diving Units on
both coasts were established shortly after the Second World War as mine
countermeasures diving units, and this task remains one of their primary
responsibilities. Both FDU(P) and FDU(A) have the same core capabilities
and conduct Clearance Diver training to maintain their high professional
standard. These core capabilities are:
1. Mine Counter-Measures
2. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD);
3. Battle Damage
Repair (BDR); and
4. Force Protection Support (FP Support).
order to maintain this standard, members of the diving units carry out
numerous diving and demolition tasks and exercises, often in cooperation
with foreign Navies such as the United States, Great Britain, New
Zealand and Australia. Canadian Clearance Divers also complete a
rigorous and intensive training program. All Clearance Divers begin as
either ship's team divers or combat divers, where they will spend
several years completing tasks using CABA (aka SCUBA) diving equipment.
After this period they may volunteer to become Clearance Divers and must
complete a gruelling two-week preliminary course. On the "prelim" they
are assessed by instructors while competing for a limited number of
positions on course. If accepted, they will then complete a one year
course learning to use numerous different types of diving equipment as
well as diving medicine, recompression treatment and chamber operation,
demolition and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, underwater welding and
cutting, ice diving, underwater photography and many other tasks. On
successful completion of the course the students are awarded the coveted
"dolphin" badge of the Clearance Diver.
Once in the unit the
divers will be assigned to one of several sections. The Mine
Countermeasures (MCM) section is responsible for mine detection and
disposal, and maintains its proficiency through both exercises and
actual taskings. The BDR (Battle Damage Repair) section carries out
numerous ship repair tasks (such as removing and replacing ship's
propellers and sonar domes) throughout the year. In addition, the BDR
section is prepared to deploy at short notice anywhere in the world to
carry out neutralization of ordnance and repair of underwater damage
incurred in the modern Naval combat environment. BDR is also capable of
carrying out salvage operations (including surveying and raising sunken
vessels). The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) section carries out
land-based bomb disposal tasks for their regions of responsibility, as
well as investigating and disposing of unexploded military ordnance.
EOD's role has become increasingly important in recent years, and it
now responds to dozens of calls each year, including such things as
wartime "souvenir" ammunition or commercial explosives. The Repair
section maintains all of the diving gear, and operates the unit's
recompression chambers. Repair also maintains and operates Remotely
Operated Vehicles (ROV's). The Training section runs courses for all
Canadian Forces Divers (including Air Force Search and Rescue
Technicians, Army Combat Divers, and Navy Ship's Team, Reserve
Inspection, and Clearance Divers). Additionally, the respective diving
unit may be tasked with additional responsibilities such as submarine
search and rescue, recompression treatment of diving casualties, or
scientific research projects.
A variety of diving equipment is
used by Canadian Clearance Divers. CABA gear (consisting of a US Divers
Regulator or AGA full face masks plus twin aluminum 80 cu ft bottles) is
used for the majority of ship repair and other shallow water tasks. Mine
Countermeasure tasks are accomplished using the Canadian Clearance Diver
Apparatus (CCDA) and the Canadian Underwater Mine Apparatus (CUMA), both
of which are Canadian-designed rebreathers, built by Fullerton-Sherwood
in Mississauga, Ontario. CCDA is a set-flow Nitrox rebreather capable of
diving to 180 feet sea water (FSW), while CUMA is a variable-flow Heliox
rebreather with onboard diagnostics capable of diving to 270 fsw (Nitrox
is an enriched oxygen mixture, such as 60% 02 40% N2 while the Heliox
rebreather supplies a set amount of pure oxygen and adds increasing
amounts of helium to this as the diver descends). For deep non-MCM
diving, the Kirby-Morgan Superlite 17 helmet with surface supplied mixed
gas (compressed air or Heliox) is used. At the deeper depths a hot water
suit is also used to prevent hypothermia from the extreme cold.
Additional equipment used by members of the unit includes several
recompression chambers (including the Drager Duocom chamber which is
portable and capable of fly-away operations), underwater cutting and
welding gear, hydraulic and pneumatic tools, video and photographic
equipment, hand-held and side-scan sonar's, and two ROV's; the advanced
"Phantom IV' deep underwater vehicle and the larger "Trailblazer" Bottom
Object Investigation Vehicle. The Diving Unit also possesses many
vessels used for support of diving operations. YDT-11, used for deep
diving, is a 130 ton diving tender with an onboard 6-man recompression
chamber and mixed-gas surface support equipment. Many smaller craft are
also used by the unit, either on their own or in support of the larger
Both FDU(P) and FDU(A) as well as DRDC Toronto
Experimental Diving Unit are at the forefront of diving technology, and
will continue to expand and develop CF capabilities in the future.
Increasing integration of Naval Reserve Inspection Divers in FDU
operations (in keeping with the Canadian Forces "Total Force" concept)
acts as a "force-multiplier" (providing a pool of trained personnel to
assist and conduct ship repair and underwater searches). In addition,
with the acceptance of the "SOOKE & SECHELT" diving tenders ( 300 ton,
110 foot long) , the units are now able to extend the reach and scope of
their diving operations. The Diving Units are the only operational mine
countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal and battle damage repair
asset s in the Navy. The officers and men of the diving units are ready
to respond to any situation and remain true to their motto: "Strength in
Although both diving units remain comparatively small,
their scope of operations is extensive, and the varied functions are of
considerable importance. The units are tasked to perform the following
Search and inspection of the seabed;
Explosives Ordnance Disposal;
Salvage and Rescue;
Underwater Ship Repair and Maintenance;
Repair and Inspection of Canadian Forces
Dive Training; and
Recompression Chamber services.
In the performance of tasks evolving from
these functions, diving units works closely with various other Maritime
Forces Pacific or Maritime Forces Atlantic support services such as Ship
Repair Unit Pacific, Naval Engineering Unit Pacific, Queens Harbour
Master, and the Rescue Co-ordination Center. Approximately 4,000
underwater man-hours are expended annually on ship and harbour repairs
alone at each unit.
To carry out its assigned tasks, units are
equipped with two diving tenders plus a full array of smaller working
and diving vessels.
Divers breathing apparatus found at the
units and onboard their diving tenders include:
Compressed Air Breathing Apparatus (CABA) for
general diving to 150 Feet of Sea Water (FSW).
Canadian Clearance Diving Apparatus (CCDA)
which is a NITROX rebreather capable of diving to 140 FSW.
Canadian Underwater Mine Apparatus (CUMA)
which is a HELIOX rebreather designed for depths to 270 FSW.
Surface Supplied Breathing Apparatus (SSBA)
which utilizes the Kirby-Morgan Superlite 17B dive helmet for depths
to 330 FSW on HELIOX and the AGA Mask to 180 FSW on compressed air.
27 April, 2013