Clearance divers tackle Hydracrab

A clearance diver investigates a dud rocket in a hesco barrier of a forward operating base.

A clearance diver investigates a dud rocket in a hesco barrier of a forward operating base.

Lt(N) Sebastian Harper, FDU (P) ~

Clearance divers from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) recently deployed to Guam for Exercise Hydracrab.

The amalgam of navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operators from allied partner nations convened Aug. 19 on the Pacific island of Guam to practice their skills.

Hosted by United States Navy EOD Mobile Unit 5, Hydracrab was an inaugural 14-day exercise designed to push EOD operators to their limits in a non-permissive maritime environment.  Participants included Clearance Diving Teams 1 and 4 from Australia, Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) from Canada, HMNZS Matatua from New Zealand, and EOD Mobile Unit 5 and 3 Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) EOD, from the United States. 

Unique to this exercise, US Marines from 3 MEF Force Reconnaissance also flew in from Okinawa, Japan, to act as “Blue Force” for the exercise, giving participants the opportunity to integrate with ground forces and assault teams during raids and vessel boarding.

Over the course of the exercise, eight RCN clearance divers honed their skills, participating in dismounted improvised explosive device (IED) disruption tasks, which in many cases involved hand dismantling IEDs in order to enable an assault force to press on to their objective. 

They also practiced ancillary skills including diving, fast rope insertion, shooting, and close quarters battle to better enable them to integrate with land forces or boarding teams; something that navy EOD teams are often called on to do.

Mobile Unit 5 intends to make Exercise Hydracrab an annual event in which Pacific allied EOD partners can integrate and better prepare their EOD operators for the next fight. Having the opportunity to inter-operate with partner nations in an intense and immersive exercise gives Canadian clearance divers the warfighting skills required to accomplish their challenging and dangerous tasks on the battlefield of the future.

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