Royal Navy divers have taken part in a multi-national bomb disposal exercise off the West coast of Canada.
Exercise Ardent Defender saw bomb disposal teams from six nations converge on Victoria to teach military and civilian technicians the latest methods in disarming explosive devices.
Eleven divers from Fleet Diving Unit Two – one of the Royal Navy’s three specialist teams – spent the week neutralising, interrogating and gathering intelligence on explosives alongside their diving counterparts.
“This is the first time I’ve been involved in such an intense and challenging exercise. The chance to work with so many other nations and agencies, so far from home, has been really interesting,” said Diver Kieran ‘Charlie’ Dimmock.
“It’s also been extremely rewarding, especially when I was acting as part of a ‘high assurance underwater search team’. We had a good idea that a device had been planted and had to then locate it within a certain time frame and mark it.”
For FDU2 specialises in Improvised Explosive Devices placed in or close to ships and harbour infrastructures. As well as neutralising the bombs – courtesy of personal skill, bravery and a variety of specialist equipment including small remote-controlled vehicles – FDU2 gather as much forensic evidence and intelligence as possible about the device, Royal Navy wrote.
“All the nations have similar equipment and do the job in a similar way, but the British are held in high regard due to the fact that we’ve been the leaders in bomb disposal due to lessons learned from Northern Ireland and all the bombs placed over the years by terrorists,” said Lieutenant Commander Sean Heaton, Fleet Diving Unit 2’s Officer-in-Charge.
“The water off Victoria is very similar to Scotland as it is clearer than most harbours, but colder than the south coast of England.”
British dive teams try to make three or four international exercises each year, such as Northern Challenge, hosted in Iceland, or RIMPAC, hosted by the US Navy in San Diego.
Ardent Defender is a regular fixture on the diving unit’s calendar, although the location shifts around Canada; this year it fell to the Canadian military’s Pacific forces in British Columbia.
Lieutenant Commander Ben Stait, Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Diving Group, said: “Ardent Defender gives the Royal Navy a unique opportunity to exercise with a diverse collection of teams from a multitude of different countries and agencies.”
“To be able to conduct tasks on unusual types of vessel and infrastructure will help us to improve our standard operating procedures and give greater reassurance to our ships and submarines when conducting operations in overseas locations.”