Minentaucher (Mine Clearance Divers) are particularly trained military divers of the German Navy. Their operational areas are:
- Searching, identifying, and removing or salvaging underwater weapons such as mines or explosives in the water.
- Servicing underwater drones.
- Removing weapons in water and ashore, in particular removing explosives attached by enemies to hulls and underwater equipment.
- Rescuing and salvaging.
- For other nations' naval work divers, see Clearance Diver.
Mine Clearance Divers are highly qualified specialists, who are stationed partly on board schwimmenden Einheiten (= "swimming units"), which can be ordered to be in standby if necessary. A part of the trained mine clearance divers is available as a special-purpose force in the mine clearance diver company in Eckernförde.
In 2001 the Bataillon Spezialisierter Kräfte (= "Battalion of Specialized Forces") was separated from the German commando frogmen group.
The Bataillon Spezialisierter Kräfte (SEK M) (= "Specialized Task Forces Battalion" was formed by the transformation of 2003. SEK M was divided further into the Kampfschwimmerkompanie (= "combat diver company", one mine clearance diver company, and two naval companies for special employments (e.g. boarding ships), a training inspection, and further support elements. On 1 April 2014 the Minentaucherkompanie became an integral part of the newly formed Naval Force Protection Battalion (Seebataillon).
See de:Bild:MiTa Wappen.JPG for the coat of arms of the Minentaucherkompanie.
The mine clearance divers are trained in the mine clearance diver company (MiTaKp) in Eckernförde. This unit is subordinated to the Flottille Minenstreitkräfte (= "flotilla of mine armed forces").
To qualify for armed divers diver training, which includes mine clearance divers and combat frogmen, these conditions are to be fulfilled:-
Examination without restriction
- Serving as a soldier on a timed contract "Soldat auf Zeit" for at least 4 years or as a career soldier.
- Completing the basic training at a naval school;.
- Undergo the TuKV (diver and combat frogman suitability) examination at the Schiffahrtsmedizinisches Institut (= Shipping-medical Institute) in Kiel.
- Top condition (physical fitness), which is examined in special tests before and during the training.
- Strength of will, which makes the applicant loadable over the borders of reflexes and physical pain.
They are taught much more about diving physics and medicine than a sport diver or civilian work diver is taught, and knowledge about (any kind of) underwater weapons, tactics and employment procedure. This forms the largest part of the training practical exercises, Fitness training and associated "sifting out" weeds out over 70% of the course participant in the first 6 weeks of the mine clearance diver training.
See de:Bild:Schwimmtaucher.jpg for the German armed forces diver badge.
Expiration of the training
Starting from week:
- 0: general military basic training at the naval technique school at Parow, Germany.
- 13: Swimming diver training course in the naval training centre of the navy in Neustadt / Holstein.
- 19: Initial mine clearance diver training in the training inspection of the specialized task forces of the navy (MiTaKp, combat frogmen company and naval weapon school in Eckernfōrde)
- 24 Mine clearance diver employment training (as above)
- 36. Week: Explosive training course for divers (as above)
- 38: Armed Forces boat driving licence (as above)
- 41: Ship security detachment leader
- 42: NCO course 1 (MUS Plön)
- 46: Use as a mine clearance diver leading seaman on board a mine hunter or in the MiTaKp
Starting from which month:-
- 25: NCO course 2 (MUS Plön)
- 28: Ship security group leader
- 29. Month: Mine clearance diver leader training course in the training inspection of the specialized task forces of the navy (MiTaKp, combat float company and naval weapon school in Eckernförde)
- 32: Explosives leader training course (as above)
- 33: Ammunition technician training course and training course in naval weapon removal
- 40: Special training course (weapon removal EOD)
- 42: Use as mine clearance diver boat man or officer on board mine hunters, in the MiTaKP or in EOD/IEDD groups in the SEK M as combat frogman
Armed forces diver
Armed forces divers are trained and used in nearly all countries as part of its navy.
- In the USA they are the EOD.
- In Great Britain their training is merged in the Special Boat Service (SBS).
- In France the unit of the Plongeurs Démineurs is comparable to the German mine clearance divers.
In all countries the employments, operating conditions and employment regulations of the weapon divers are subject to secrecy.
Combat frogmen and mine clearance divers differ clearly in their equipment, due to their different tasks.
Combat frogmen (Kampfschwimmer) operate offshore undiscovered and in shallow water, but mine clearance divers are used also in lakes and partly into deeper water. The preferred diving equipment of the combat frogmen is accordingly oxygen rebreathers, which reprocesses breathed out air and delivers only small masses of gas to the environment, so that the combat frogman cannot be discovered by rising bubbles. See also German commando frogmen.
Mine clearance diver
Clearance divers use either compressed air or mixed gas devices. With "oxygen cycle devices" the depth is limited to 15–20 metres (49–66 ft); with "compressed air diving devices", which are used also in sport diving, the depth is 40–60 metres (130–200 ft); with "mixed gas devices" with trimixes the oxygen portion according to the depth is reduced, thus the possible depth is higher.
Apart from the mechanical and electronic special tools used by mine clearance divers, items of equipment are used which are also used by civilian divers.
The mine clearance diver boat Mūhlhausen (replacement for the Stier which was decommissioned in 1994) and the diver school boat Langeoog (replacement for the ansa) in Eckernförde have stationary decompression chambers for up to 6 persons, in which divers can be treated immediately after accidents. To these, mobile decompression chambers can be clamped on by flanges. They are transported if necessary (e.g. by SAR helicopters in low-altitude flight) to Kiel, to the largest pressure chamber of the German Federal Navy, in which up to 12 people can be subjected to pressure, as a simulation of deep diving as part of training, or to treat decompression sickness. For this reason and due to the outstanding training, the number and the consequences of serious and deadly diving accidents with the mine clearance divers in the German navy are remarkably small compared to the comparable units in other countries.
A component of the training is the Armed Forces boat driving licence and the training about naval underwater explosives. Afterwards the training takes place to troop leader in the context of the ship safeguard training.
The members of the MiTaKp can participate in numerous special training courses beyond that. Most longer-serving mine clearance divers are qualified e.g. also as motorists BCE, helmet divers (nationally examined diver), the parachutist, and single fighter.
The training and operational planning was aimed originally to defend against conventional and more unconventional underwater weapons in case of emergency in a possible confrontation of NATO with the Eastern Bloc. Since 1985 the tasks and course contents were modified accordingly. The training in removal of unorthodox exploding and fire devices (IEDD) still takes place in a "special training course for the fulfilment of special orders for employment".
Mine clearance divers were predominantly used from 1957 to 1984 in German territorial waters, mainly in the Baltic Sea and removing naval mines left over from wars. Also they joined in search and salvage of damaged ships, submarines and fallen airplanes. The most dangerous task of the mine clearance divers consisted of seeking out and salvaging weapons, which were sunk after the World War in the Baltic Sea, containing chemical agents and therefore today endangering navigation and fishery.
Removing freshly laid mines in autumn 1985 in the Suez Canal was the first exterritorial use of German mine clearance divers. With this NATO employment in an international maritime route, with which the clearing equipment (Troika), developed for open ocean, could not be used, German mine clearance divers were used. Afterwards numerous employments took place worldwide also in international waters with NATO Response Forces and the German task Force (EAV).
The Mine clearance diver company badge is a sawfish.
- The slogan of the mine clearance divers is "Nec aspera terrent" (= "Adversities do not frighten" (flag saying of the Hannover army 1617 - 1866)).
- Unit symbols are:-
- There are about 40 active German mine clearance divers in the MiTaKp, and about 60 active on board "swimming units" and in the ports.
- Clearance Diving Branch (RAN) – Diving unit of the Royal Australian Navy - Australian Navy Clearance Divers
- Underwater Demolition Team – US Navy special operations group - US Navy, 1943–1967
- Minedykkerkommandoen – Norwegian Navy clearance diver unit is Norway's Clearance Diver force.
- Clearance diver – Navy diver specialist with explosives