Into The Deep

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01 Nov 2018 | OPS & TRAINING

Into The Deep

As naval divers, they must meet demanding physical fitness standards, possess incredible mental strength and be like fish in water. PIONEER takes you behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of the Naval Diving Unit's (NDU's) training and operational capabilities.

// STORY Teo Jing Ting 

// PHOTOS Kenneth Lin

English Melayu

One with the water

Before earning their fins, all trainees go through the Combat Diver Course (CDC). During these 20 weeks, they will undergo rigorous physical training, build water confidence through drown-proofing, learn land combat and specialised diving skills, as well as go through a five-day Team Building Week.

A trainee dipping his Full Range Oxygen Gas System (FROGS), a rebreather system which allows him to stay underwater for long periods, into water to check for leakage. If bubbles appear, he must rectify and reassemble the apparatus.
During drown-proofing, the trainees' hands and feet are tied. After sinking to the bottom of the 4m-deep pool, they make their way up to the surface - this is repeated eight times.
They then do a somersault before picking up a dive mask with their mouths and passing it to the safety officer on the surface.
An "aggressor" (top right) rips off a trainee's regulator and mask, turns off his oxygen supply and flips him. The trainee must be able to reset his equipment underwater and carry on with the dive.

"Drown-proofing was the scariest thing I went through in CDC 'cos I can't move my hands and feet. Before I entered NDU, I could not even swim a lap. One-to-one sessions with my instructors built up my water confidence. Now that I've graduated from CDC, I know that I can overcome any challenge."

Making it as a team

Done in teams of four, the Maritime Assault Course (MAC) is an annual test which assesses the fitness and operational competencies of naval diver Regulars. Throughout the course, each diver dons a 15kg load comprising a combat vest, life jacket and a Heckler & Koch HK416 assault rifle. The time they have to complete the five-obstacle circuit? 15 minutes.

Naval divers doing a 6m tower jump and caving ladder climb. The jump simulates entering the water from a helicopter, while the caving ladder climb is akin to climbing up the side of a ship.
Naval divers taking turns to flip a 105kg tyre over a distance of 80m (left) and completing a 200m run.
This is part of the physical fitness component which also includes 20 jumping jacks (above) and 20 push-ups (below).

"The MAC incorporates operational scenarios into physical training and forces the team to work together. It's a way for us to do physical training, work on our resilience and build on our team spirit."

Stealth attack

To emerge covertly from the sea and attack forces on land requires strong teamwork and coordination, especially under strong tidal conditions. The divers are armed with 22kg of gear and weapons including a load-bearing vest, night vision goggles and the HK416 assault rifle — which increases by a third of its weight when wet. 

Stealth mode: Naval divers approaching in a horizontal line formation towards shore, allowing them to cover a wider arc of observation. Their movements are slow and they must keep noise to a minimum so as not to alert enemies.
The divers must always remain on high alert. After securing the area, they throw a smoke grenade so that the Combatant Craft Mediums (CCMs) hovering nearby know where to pick them up.
As the two CCMs approach, one fires towards the location of the smoke grenade to provide cover (top) as the divers climb on board the other (bottom).

"We train in low visibility and harsh conditions 'cos we are training for the unknown. This is why we always need to be ready and be on our toes."

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