United States military divers

The US employs divers in several branches of the armed forces, including the navy, army, marines, air force and coast guard.

United States Navy

United States Army

  • Some Army Rangers attend the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course.
  • Delta Force – all trained in Combat Diving.
  • Army Engineer Divers of Corp of Engineers- Trained in underwater construction, salvage, demolitions, hydrographic survey, hyperbaric chamber operation, beach and river reconnaissance, bridge reconnaissance, underwater cutting and welding, side scan sonar operations, mine and countermine operations, search and recovery operations and ships husbandry operations. Army divers use both surface supplied equipment and scuba to perform their missions.
  • The Special Forces (Green Berets) maintain a robust combat diving capability. One Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) per Special Forces Company is trained and equipped to conduct open and closed circuit sub-surface maritime infiltration operations. Special Forces combat divers, along with many combat divers from other services, attend the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course, which is held at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School, Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Florida.

United States Marine Corps

The USMC Combatant Diver Course is located at the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center, Naval Support Activity Panama City, Panama City, Florida.

United States Coast Guard

According to Record Group 226 at the National Archive over 45 United States Coast Guard men were attached to the Office of Strategic Services Maritime Unit Operational Swimmer Groups (OSG). All OSGs had Coast Guard men, and several CG men were attached to UDT 10 in the Pacific after training with the OSS MU. LT John P. Booth (USCG) was Commanding Officer in the field of OSG 1. He was attached to OSS Detachment 101 and OSS Detachment 404 in the China and Burma and India war area where he and his team conducted reconnaissance and infiltration by sea, scouted enemy shoreline, and participated in combat swimmer and covert operations. These OSS Frogmen pioneered the use of unassisted diving techniques to include the Lambertsen Unit (allowing men to swim underwater for up to 3 hours), swimfins and the underwater compass. These men also experimented with underwater delivery systems referred to as the "Sleeping Beauty". Several of these Coast Guard/OSS Frogmen, including LT Booth, were awarded the Bronze Star for their "service with the Office of Strategic Services" by the Commanding General CBI. Although it is widely thought that the Navy UDT's were the first Frogmen, in fact it was the combined efforts of the OSS Frogmen (Operational/Combat Swimmers), USN Scouts & Raiders, and NCDUs/UDTs, that laid the foundation for what would later become the U.S. Navy SEALS. The first OSS Frogman, according to the Naval Special Warfare Foundation was USN Petty Officer John Spence who trained at OSS Maritime Unit AREA D on the Potomac River with USN LT Jack Taylor, who is widely considered the first SEAL. Over half of the OSS Frogmen / Combat swimmers were in fact Coast Guard men sought out for their advanced swimming, diving, and boat handing skills.[5]

As of July 2008 Qualified Coast Guard Officers and enlisted Petty Officers are permitted to volunteer for Navy SEAL training. 21 May 2010 two Coast Guard officers graduated BUDS class 277 and moved on to further Naval Special Warfare Training; ultimately to join active Navy SEAL teams. RADM Gary Bonelli, Deputy Commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command stated to the USCG Web journal the following:

“Naval Special Warfare is proud to team with the nation's first U.S. Coast Guard officers qualified as U.S. Navy SEALs...During the past fourteen months, they have proven their mettle and have truly earned the right to be called our teammates. Cooperation among all services is a critical component of the National Maritime Strategy. Today's graduation is just one more example of the many integral ties that bind our maritime services. Congratulations to SQT Class 277!"[6]

Currently, United States Coast Guard dive teams are assigned to buoy tenders in the 14th District, polar icebreakers, and Maritime Safety and Security Teams. At these units, divers perform a variety of missions, from buoy tending in the Central Pacific to science support in the polar regions and security diving operations in ports around the country.

United States Air Force

See also


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