By Lieutenant(N) Geoff McNaughton, Plans Officer, Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) –
Ready for an exciting career change? Consider becoming part of one of the most thrilling, challenging, and rewarding occupations in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF): Clearance Diver. This highly specialized occupation is looking for motivated personnel who want to undergo an Occupational Transfer. The Clearance Divers trade is now accepting Voluntary Occupational Transfers (VOT) or Component Transfers (CT) to become a Clearance Diver from a wide range of CAF members, in an expansion intended to find the most highly qualified individuals in the Forces. Though the prerequisites have changed, the occupation itself is as challenging as ever.
Clearance Divers are highly trained naval officers who fulfil a variety of CAF requirements as tasked by the Commander Royal Canadian Navy. These tasks range from Explosive Ordnance Disposal, to assigned warfare, to seabed intervention. They provide four core warfare capabilities:
- Mine Countermeasures: These specialists use low signature re-breather diving apparatus in conjunction with underwater navigation and sonar systems to locate, identify, and explosively neutralize underwater mine threats.
- Maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal: Clearance Divers in both surface and sub-surface environments can specialize in underwater demolitions, conventional and advanced Unexploded Ordnance and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal.
- Battle Damage Repair: Clearance Divers carry out repair and maintenance of naval vessels and underwater installations, using underwater welding and cutting, demolitions, salvage and recovery, and Remotely Operated Vehicles.
- Force Protection Support: Specializing in at-home and abroad, they clear port installations, jetties, anchorages, and harbours of hazards and threats.
If these tasks float your boat, you can apply to become a Clearance Diver, regardless of your current occupation, as soon as you have 48 months of continuous service in the CAF. You can then submit a letter of intent through your chain of command, and complete the shallow water diver pre-screening form (DND 2939). From there, you can schedule an interview with a Personnel Selection Officer, and once selected, attend a Clearance Diver Assessment Centre.
Throughout the process, they will be looking for a certain type of person. “First we want to see if you have the right attributes,” says Petty Officer First Class Joss Brisson. “The training comes later.” Clearance Divers first and foremost need to possess a high level of physical and medical fitness, but there is also a need for maturity, self-confidence, both physical and mental stamina, dedication, and motivation.
The seven-day evaluation process at the Clearance Diver Assessment Centre uses those metrics to determine which individuals are the best fit for the program, followed by a six-week course intended to train applicants in the basics of diving. Once accepted into the program, the training to become a fully functional Clearance Diver lasts a full year, with training in additional qualifications up to an extra six months.
The Clearance Diver Occupation has a long and storied history. The first units were formed during the Second World War to disarm sea mines throughout Europe and the South Pacific. From their auspicious beginnings, Clearance Divers have been at the forefront of the Royal Canadian Navy and CAF operations throughout the world, including operations in Afghanistan, the Baltics, and most recently, Ukraine.
Clearance diving is a challenging occupation, and there is a reason it asks for so much commitment and training. But after your application and training are completed the possibilities are everywhere, and within two years of your application you could be working on dive medicine, surface supply diving, conventional munitions disposal, or welding a boat underwater. The Clearance Diver Occupation is not for everyone, but for some CAF members, it’s the only occupation they want.
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