Sappers Divers Group

The Sappers Divers Group (Portuguese: Agrupamento de Mergulhadores Sapadores) is the combat divers unit of the Portuguese Navy. It was created in 2004, to group under a single unit, the already existing sappers divers detachments (DMS), Divers School and Diving Service.

Sappers Divers Group
Agrupamento de Mergulhadores Sapadores
Active1966 (sappers divers sections)
1972 (sappers divers detachments)
2004 (Sappers Divers Group)
Country Portugal
Branch Portuguese Navy
RoleUnderwater diving
Part ofSubmarine Squadron
BaseLisbon Naval Base
EngagementsPortuguese Colonial War
Lieutenant-Commander Nunes de Castro


The Sappers Divers Group is part of the Portuguese Navy's Submarine Squadron and is commanded by a senior naval officer. It includes:

  • Command
  • Diving Service (Serviço de Mergulho)
  • Divers School (Escola de Mergulhadores)
  • No. 1 Sappers Divers Detachment (DMS1)
  • No. 2 Sappers Divers Detachment (DMS2)
  • No. 3 Sappers Divers Detachment (DMS3/DMS-MW)


The first notice of the employment of combat divers by Portugal occurred in 1580, during the War of the Portuguese Succession. In that occasion, Portuguese combat divers attacked the enemy Spanish ships that were in the Tagus, in order to damage their hulls.

In the scope of the Overseas war in Portuguese Guinea, the Portuguese Navy detected the use of naval mines by the enemy forces of the PAIGC. To deal with that threat, in 1966, the No. 1 Sappers Divers Section was created and deployed to Guinea. In 1968, the No. 2 Sappers Divers Section is also created.

In 1972, the two sappers divers sections are transformed in two larger sappers divers detachments (DMS, destacamentos de mergulhadores sapadores). The DMS continue to be assigned to the Navy's Guinea Maritime Defense Command due to the operational imperatives of its activities.

The DMS were disbanded in 1975, after the end of the Overseas War. Afterwards the operational activity of the divers was assigned to the Navy's Divers School.

The No. 1 Sappers Divers Detachment (DMS1) was reactivated on 1 June, 1988, because there was a need of an operational unit specially dedicated to the military diving area. Public interest activities, namely salvage diving and search-and-rescue were still assigned to the Divers School.

When, on 1 January, 1995, the DMS2 was reactivated (with twenty elements instead of thirteen), all operational activity was assigned to the detachments, with Divers School becoming only dedicated to the instruction activities.

In 2004, the Sappers Divers Group is created, grouping the DMS1, the DMS2 and the Divers School under a single unit.

A divers unit focused in mine warfare is created in 2008, this being the No. 3 Sappers Divers Detachment (DMS-MW).

The Sappers Divers Group is under the command of the Portuguese Navy Submarine Squadron.


The missions assigned to the Sappers Divers Group are:

  • Naval operations of mine laying.
  • Tactical coastal reconnaissance and obstacle clearing for the landing of amphibious forces.
  • Underwater offensive operations, at sea, in the shoreline, in river access, and in port facilities.
  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
  • Salvage diving operations, namely survey, repair and recuperation of naval units.
  • Search-and-rescue operations.
  • Co-operation in the control of activities linked to the seabed.
  • Co-operation in the scientific study of the sea.

High-profile operations conducted by the unit:

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