Royal Navy Clearance Divers train onboard HMS PROTECTOR. Picture: L(Phot) Arron Hoare
A Royal Navy Clearance Diver spends months training to become fully conversant with underwater search, engineering and Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Diving in zero visibility is common; underwater tasks are both physically and psychologically demanding. However, with all the hard work and training comes the rare opportunity to serve in HMS PROTECTOR, the Royal Navy’s 5,000 tonne Ice Patrol Ship. There are few people that can say that they have been to Antarctica and even less that have dived there. The cool waters of the ‘Frozen Continent’ provide some of the best diving in the world; visibility often extends to 15 meters and the sea bed is littered with whale bones, star fish and an array of rare fauna and flora.
HMS PROTECTOR’s embarked Clearance Diving Element (CDE) consists of 4 divers: two Leading Divers and two AB Divers from the Fleet Diving Group (FDG). Assigned to the ship for the duration of her patrol of the British Antarctic Territory during the Austral Summer, the divers form a key component of HMS PROTECTOR’s diverse, and highly trained ship’s company.
(Leading Diver Lindsay and Able Diver Courtney Diving near Detaille Island, with HMS Protector in the background )