1.0     Introduction

“Navy clearance divers are the human face of undersea warfare. As the RAN’s own elite special forces they undertake minewarfare, reconnaissance, salvage and covert operations.” (RAN, 2010, p.153).

The job of a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) clearance diver is very physically demanding and requires candidates to already have a high degree of physical fitness before joining the RAN. It is important to realise that candidates will be tested for their physical fitness at the commencement of the Clearance Diving Acceptance Test and that arduous physical training is undertaken whilst on the Basic Clearance Diver course and subsequently throughout their career (Defence Jobs, 2015).

Although clearance divers are considered Special Forces (SF) by the RAN they do not form part of the Australian Special Operations Command (SOCOMD).

The core business of clearance divers is the identification and rendering safe of explosive devices, i.e. underwater mines, particularly in shallow water and in ports and harbours (RAN, 2010). However, clearance divers also: conduct clandestine hydrographic surveys of beaches for amphibious operations and clear mines or obstacles; conduct underwater battle damage repair of fleet units, as well as support tasks involving the repair and installation of underwater fittings; render safe and dispose of all explosive ordnance, including improvised explosive devices; and fufil a maritime counter terrorism role as part of the waterborne troop of the Tactical Assault Group (East).

This article is divided into five parts for easier reading. Section One, the introduction, also provides a definition of clearance diving, a brief history and women and clearance diving. Part Two provides an overview of the organisation of the clearance diver branch. Part Three looks at the entry standards whilst Part Four provides an overview of the selection and training undertaken by clearance divers. Finally, Part Five looks at the pay and allowances, return of service and rank structure of clearance divers as well as accreditation, a glossary, useful links, documentaries and videos.

1.1     What is Clearance Diving?

“Clearance Diving is the process involving the use of divers for locating, identifying and disposing of mines.” (RAN, 2010, p.185).

1.2     Brief History

The RAN has used divers on a regular basis since the 1920s, but it was not until WW2 that clearance diving operations came to the fore, with RAN divers working alongside Royal Navy divers to remove naval mines from British waters, and from the waters of captured ports on the European mainland (Grey, 1998). They were also utilised in the reconnaissance of amphibious landing sites (Grey, 1998). The skills learned in the European theatre were brought back to Australia, and utilised in the war against Japan and again during the clean-up of defensive mines from Australian and Papua New Guinea waters (Grey, 1998).

The utility of clearance and commando divers demonstrated during, and after, WW2 prompted the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board to establish a clearance diving branch within the RAN in 1951, adopting the motto ‘United and Undaunted’ (Grey, 1998; Perryman & Mitchell, 2011). A separate Mobile Clearance Diving Team was established in 1956 (Grey, 1998). Divers were initially attached to the Underwater Research and Development Unit, based at HMAS Rushcutter (Grey, 1998). Some suggest that the introduction of the Clearance Diving Breathing Apparatus (CDBA) in 1955 marked the true beginning of the clearance diver and the start of an era for the new branch.

Bill Fitzgerald, a student on the RANs first clearance diver course in 1955 (Strike, 2003; Wall, 2015), states (in an interview in 1998) that the original clearance teams were not divers (Strike, 2013). Bill then informs us that in 1955, at the instigation of ‘Maurie’ Batterham, the Clearance Diving Branch was born. The first course was originally intended to be a 6-month programme but ultimately extended to nearly 9-months. He then goes on to say that 20 candidates started the course but only 10 finished, a few of them later voluntarily withdrew from the clearance diver branch for a variety of reasons (Strike, 2013).

In March 1966, clearance divers underwent further reorganisation, splitting into two Clearance Diving Teams (CDTs) (Grey, 1998). CDT 1 (later styled AUSCDT 1) was the operational team assigned to mine clearance and reconnaissance operations throughout the Australia Station, while CDT 2 (AUSCDT 2) was dedicated to mine warfare in the Sydney area, but was not cleared for operations outside this area (Grey, 1998).

Shortly thereafter CDT 1 deployed for exercises in South-East Asia, which included a 1-week period in Vietnam conducting operations with US Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel. In late 1966, CDT 3 was established specifically for deployment to the Vietnam War to assist the overworked US Navy EOD units, and to give RAN personnel in clearance diving work in an operational environment (Grey, 1998). It was formed from members of CDTs 1 and 2 (McCallum, 2009), as a six-man team. After specialised deployment training the team was on station in Vietnam from February 1967 until May 1971, with six/seven-month deployments (Grey, 1998).

CDT 3 was disbanded at the end of the Vietnam War, but the designation is reactivated for overseas wartime deployments, including in 1991 for the Gulf War and again in 2003 for the Iraq War (Perryman & Mitchell, 2011).

1.3     The Role of Clearance Divers

The RANs Clearance Divers are the ADFs specialist divers and they undertake a number of operations to fulfil their role, which includes mine warfare, reconnaissance, salvage and covert operations (Hartigan, 2009; RAN, 2010; RAN, 2015a); diving to depths of 54 metres (one source suggests this will be uprated to 90 metres).

The core business of Clearance Divers is locate, identify and perform underwater and shipboard Explosive Ordnance and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal tasks for the RAN. This involves making safe and disposing underwater explosives. These operations can be further articulated through the clearance diving branch’s four distinct roles, which include:

  1. Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD):
    1. Location and disposal of sea mines in shallow waters.
    2. Rendering safe and recovering enemy mines.
    3. The search for and disposal of ordnance below the high water mark.
    4. Clearance of surface ordnance in port or on naval facilities.
    5. Search for, rendering safe or disposal of all ordnance in RAN ships and facilities.
    6. Improvised explosive device (IED) disposal (officers and senior sailors).
  2. Maritime Tactical Operations:
    1. Clandestine beach reconnaissance (including back of beach operations up to 2 km inland).
    2. Clandestine hydrographic survey of seabed prior to an amphibious assault.
    3. Clandestine clearance or demolition of sea mines and/or obstacles.
    4. Clandestine placing of demolitions charges for the purpose of diversion or demonstration (ship/wharf attacks).
    5. Clandestine document collection.
  3. Underwater Battle Damage Repair:
    1. Surface supplied breathing apparatus diving.
    2. Use of underwater tools including welders, explosive nail-guns and pneumatic drills and power chainsaws.
  4. Tactical Assault Group (East):
    1. This is an SF role which covers maritime counter/anti-terrorism and counter/anti-piracy
    2. High level boarding operations (TAG qualified divers) (Lunt, 2009, p.15).
    3. Enhanced Boarding Capability for approaching, boarding and securing vessels in anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations (Global Military Review, 2011).

These roles are conducted in approaches to ports and anchorages, potential beach landing sites, in the open ocean and in and around port facilities.

1.4     Women and Clearance Divers

In accordance with current Government policy on the employment of women in the ADF, service in the Clearance Diver role is open to both male and female volunteers.

The first female officer commenced Mine Warfare Officer training in February 2013, and commenced Clearance Diver Officer training in July 2013 (RAN, 2012a). Training for female Clearance Diver sailors will commence from mid-2015 for both direct entry and in service candidates (RAN, 2012a). As reported by 9 News in July 2015 (Hardman, 2015), a woman is already making her way through the training system.

A female officer has been posted to the RAN Diving School and will be the Divisional officer for all members on the diving course, while a female Petty Officer has also been posted to the RANDS to act as Divisional Senior Sailor in addition to providing advice on training procedures and progress (RAN, 2012a).

1.5     Aim

The aim of Clearance Diver training is to prepare RAN personnel for service within the Clearance Diver branch by developing the temperament, mental resolve, physical robustness and core military skills necessary in the demanding environment of explosive ordnance disposal and military diving operations.

1.6     Clearance Diver Training Ethos

Clearance diver candidates will undergo an intensive period of training, hopefully, culminating in their graduation as qualified clearance divers. During this training, candidates will be placed under physical and mental duress through the conduct of both individual and team activities. This allows candidates to demonstrate that they have the aptitude and the physical and mental toughness to undertake training on one of the most demanding courses in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Candidates must be capable of working in small teams and under stress, whilst tired and fatigued, maintain standards and follow rigid dive protocols; clearance diver training simulates this operational environment.


2.0     Organisation

The Clearance Diver branch is part of Fleet Command, led by a Rear Admiral (OF-7), which was previously made up of seven Force Element Groups, but after the New Generation Navy changes this was restructured into four Force Commands (RAN, 2010), as outlined below:

  • Fleet Air Arm: responsible for the navy’s aviation assets;
  • Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and Patrol Force: an amalgamation of the previous Patrol Boat, Hydrographic, and Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Forces; operating what are collectively termed the RAN’s ‘minor war vessels’;
  • Submarine Force: operating the Collins class submarines; and
  • Surface Force: covering the RAN’s surface combatants (generally ships of frigate size or larger).

2.1     Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and Patrol Force

The Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and Patrol Force is an amalgamation of the previous Patrol Boat, Hydrographic, and Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Forces. It is commanded by a Captain (OF-5), who is assisted by the Deputy Commander, a Commander (OF-4), and is based at Fleet HQ in New South Wales.

Within the various roles undertaken by clearance divers, personnel will be employed in a variety of sea- and shore-based appointments, as outlined below (RAN, 2015a).

2.2     Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Group

Sitting within the Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and Patrol Force is the Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Group (AUSMCDGRP) (Semaphore, 2010), which replaced the COMAUSNAVMCDFEG following restructuring in 2010. The AUSMCDGRP is led by a Commander (OF-4) and is assisted by a Deputy Commander, a Lieutenant Commander (OF-3), in the role of Chief of Staff Clearance Diving and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (COS CD & EOD).

Other key personalities include the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Capability Manager, a Commander (OF-4) (Navy Today, 2014) and the Deputy Capability Manager, a Lieutenant Commander (OF-3) (DOD, 2013).

2.3     Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Sea Training Group

The Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Sea Training Group is responsible for the operational sea training of Australian Mine Counter Measures forces and is led by a Lieutenant (OF-2). It conducts a number of operational assessments of Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving units as part of RANs Sea Training Group.

2.4     Clearance Diving Teams

The RAN currently operates two CDTs, both of which are identically-organised, commanded by a Lieutenant Commander (OF-3) and based in Australia. Each team is a self-contained, highly mobile unit consisting of about sixty personnel (Brooker, 2009).

  • Clearance Diving Team One (AUSCDT 1): formed on 18 March 1966, it is assigned to the east of Australia and based at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney, New South Wales (RAN, 2015b).
  • Clearance Diving Team Four (AUSCDT 4): in 1962 a Reserve Diving Team was formed at HMAS Leeuwin in Fremantle and, eventually, this unit was absorbed into AUSCDT Four when it was established as an operational unit in 1978 at HMAS Stirling, Rockingham in Western Australia. AUSCDT Four became a commissioned unit of RAN on 01 December 2001 (RAN, 2015c).

A third unit, Clearance Diving Team Three (AUSCDT 3) is formed when clearance divers are sent into combat. CDT 3 saw extensive service in the Vietnam War, and during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War.

Within each team there are three distinct elements, each commanded by an element officer (typically a Lieutenant, OF-2) and clearance divers can be employed in any of the four operational CDT elements (Defence Jobs, 2015):

  1. Maritime Tactical Operations (MTO): MTO missions include diving on 100% oxygen, using self-contained, closed-circuit re-breather equipment that does not give off tell-tale exhaust gases, for specialist operations underwater and ashore. Personnel are also well trained in small arms, escape and evasion, combat survival and various insertion techniques including parachuting, and finally hydrographic reconnaissance.
  2. MCM: CDT MCM missions are similar to MHC MCM missions, but CDT MCM missions focus on specialist shore-based operations.
  3. Underwater Battle Damage Repair (UBDR): UBDR missions include diving on surface-supplied and self-contained air equipment, primarily for the maintenance and repair of ships’ underwater fittings. These missions can involve the use of underwater electric, explosive-power, hydraulic and pneumatic tools for major repairs and salvage operations.
  4. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD): EOD missions include the rendering safe and disposal of Improvised (i.e. home-made) devices, military ordnance and obstructions both on land and underwater. These missions can involve the use of remote positioning vehicles (ROV), portable X-ray devices and high powered disruptors.

Team members receive instruction in all four disciplines.

2.5     RAN Diving School

HMAS Penguin is a shore establishment of the RAN located at Balmoral on the shore of Sydney Harbour in the suburb of Mosman, New South Wales.

HMAS Penguin is one of the RANs primary training establishments, with a responsibility for providing trained specialists for all areas of the navy. As part of the RAN Navy Systems Command, HMAS Penguin is home to several of the RANs major specialist training schools, including: RAN Diving School; RAN Hydrographic School; and Medical School – Penguin.

Whilst posted to the RAN Diving School staff instruct all category and non-category diving and demolition courses, which include.

  • Basic Clearance Diver Course;
  • Advance Clearance Diver Course; and
  • Clearance diving component of the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officer Course.

Examples of roles at the RAN Diving School include:

  • OIC (Officer in Charge), a Lieutenant Commander (OF-3) (RAN, 2012b).
  • Course Implementation Officer, a Lieutenant (OF-2) (Haynes Marine, 2010).
  • Chief Instructor of Maritime Tactical Operations, a Chief Petty Officer (OR-7).

The RAN Diving School was upgraded during 2014 and now has a world-class diving training facility. (The Maritime Executive, 2015).

It was reported in 2011 that the Australian Army’s Dive Wing would be transferred to the RAN Dive School around mid-2012, forming an “ADF Dive School” (Hollink, 2012, p.13). However, Hollink (2012) reported in 2012 that progress was slow and it was anticipated that the transfer would occur sometime in 2013. Research of the RAN official website suggests the transfer never occurred.

2.6     Tactical Assault Group (East)

Clearance divers can be employed in the Special Forces role as part of the Tactical Assault Group (East) (TAG (E)), which is part of 2 Commando Regiment based at Holsworthy. TAG (E) maintains a short notice capability to conduct special military operations, using a variety of specialist skillsets that include the extensive use of small arms.

Clearance Divers posted to 2 Commando Regiment provide specialist skills to enhance the units’ operational readiness capability to operate in the maritime domain by increasing its amphibious focus.

Clearance Divers selected for TAG (E) will undergo further up-skilling with specific elements from the Commando Reinforcement and Training Cycle. These skills make Clearance Divers experts in the Maritime Counter Terrorism domain and qualified for service within 2 Commando Regiment.

2.7     Mine Counter Measures Vessels

Clearance divers posted to Huon Class Mine Hunter Coastal (MHC) vessels are based at HMAS Waterhen (Sydney) and will have dual employment:

  1. Upper deck Seaman part-of-ship duties during sea service within Australia and overseas; and
  2. Specialist diving duties which involve the use of self-contained mixed gas equipment for mine counter measures (MCM) tasks, focusing on the prosecution and disposal of sea mines.

2.8     Administrative Support Positions

Besides the RAN Diving School, there are also several administrative support positions for clearance divers located across Australia.

2.9     Reserve Clearance Diving Teams

There are seven Naval Reserve diving teams located around Australia (Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth). The teams are made up of Reserve clearance divers and Reserve diver-category sailors. Their principal role is to provide a surge/force multiplier for the AUSCDTs and provide Fleet support in their local port/state. They also deploy in support of the Mine Clearance Diving Task Group and provide exercise support (e.g. mine laying and recovery).

There are seven/eight [official sources vary] Reserve Diving Teams (RDT) which provide supplementary or surge capability in support of regular CDTs in addition to localised fleet underwater tasks:

  • Reserve Diving Team Five, New South Wales.
  • Reserve Diving Team Six, Victoria.
  • Reserve Diving Team Seven, Western Australia.
  • Reserve Diving Team Eight, Southern Queensland.
  • Reserve Diving Team Nine, South Australia.
  • Reserve Diving Team Ten, Tasmania (CO CDT 10 Commander, OF-4).
  • Reserve Diving Team Eleven, Northern Territory.
  • Reserve Diving Team Twelve, Northern Queensland.


3.0     Eligibility

There are currently three methods of entry for service in the RANs clearance diver branch:

  1. Direct Entry: i.e. civilian entrants who will have to complete their 11-week basic seaman course at HMAS Cerberus, at Westernport Bay, Victoria, prior to commencement of clearance diver training.
  2. In-Branch Transfer: trained RAN personnel transfers through the in-branch transfer scheme.
  3. In-Service Transfer: trained ADF personnel transfers through the in-service transfer scheme.

Entry to the clearance diver branch is extremely competitive, with typically 15-20 vacancies per year, usually being a mix of direct entry and in-Branch transfers. However, there are, on occasion, a small number of in-Service transfers (typically from the Australian Army).

3.1     Age Range

Civilian entrants must be aged between 17 and 53 years (changed from 19 and 30 years during 2015) inclusive on the day of enlistment or transfer.

Applicants will not normally be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age, depending upon the capacity of their local recruiting centre.

3.2     Citizenship and Security Requirements

Only Australian citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF. However, if the aspirant is a Permanent Resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary waiver of the citizenship requirement if the position for which they are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. Aspirants are required to obtain Australian citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

The Department of Defence also requires ADF entrants to obtain a security clearance appropriate to their method of entry.

3.3     Aptitude Requirement

It is essential that aspirants have the ability to cope with the intellectual demands placed on them during Clearance Diver selection and training. To determine whether aspirants do or do not have the necessary aptitude, they will be required to undertake a series of aptitude tests, including verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test.

3.4     Educational Requirement

Civilian entrants require completion of Australian Year 10 education (or equivalent) with passes in English and Mathematics or aspirants may be eligible to sit an Alternative Education Equivalency (AEE) assessment to ascertain their ability at the required educational level for this trade; view here for further information.

3.5     Medical and Fitness Requirements

Service as a Clearance Diver in RAN is physically and mentally demanding and requires a high level of individual robustness, strength and endurance. Therefore, aspirants must be medically and physically fit and psychologically suitable to undertake clearance diver selection and reinforcement training.

  • Medical: medical fitness will be assessed by a doctor, prior to enlistment. This assessment will require aspirants to complete an extensive questionnaire covering their medical history and it will be followed by a comprehensive physical examination. Applicants must pass a diving medical before being able to join the clearance diver category. Certain illnesses and disabilities relating to diving, particularly pulmonary complaints such as asthma, will normally disbar applicants.
  • Physical: aspirants will be required to successfully pass a Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) before enlistment, which includes:
    • 6 heaves (to be conducted by aspirants with a pronated (overhand) grip to simulate pulling themselves and their equipment free of the water);
    • 30 press-ups;
    • S5 sit-ups; and
    • Beep test (shuttle run or multi-stage fitness test) to level 10.1.
  • Navy Swim Test: aspirants must also pass the swim test and physical fitness test to graduate from their Navy training and to proceed to the Safety of Life at Sea Training that is a requirement for Recruit School and Officer training. The Navy Swim test consists of:
    • A safety jump off a 3m tower in overalls;
    • 10m underwater swim in overalls;
    • 50m swim using three safety strokes; and
    • Tread water or float for 15 minutes (removal of overalls optional).
  • Psychological: prior to enlistment, aspirant’s psychological suitability will be assessed by a psychologist. This assessment will require aspirants to complete a series of questionnaires and a comprehensive interview.

3.6     Period of Service

Aspirants will generally be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of six years. Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and an aspirant’s suitability for further service.


4.0     Introduction

Candidates for clearance diver positions are full-time RAN personnel and they will have completed their 11-week basic seaman course at HMAS Cerberus, at Westernport Bay, Victoria. They may then have completed other specialist area courses.

Overall, the duration of courses to become a fully qualified clearance diver takes approximately 46-weeks.

4.1     Basic Seamanship Training

One of the first courses undertaken by clearance diver candidates is the basic seamanship course which last for 4-weeks and is delivered at HMAS Cerberus.

Seamanship training covers theory and practical work in subjects such as anchor-work, cordage, boat-work, pilotage, replenishment at sea, rigging and other specialised drills.

4.2     Small Arms Training

Another one of the first courses undertaken by clearance diver candidates is small arms training which last for 8-weeks. This course may be delivered either before or after basic seamanship training.

Examples of small arms weapons include: 870P Shotgun (shotgun); F88 Austeyr (assault rifle); F89A1 Minimi (light machine gun); Hi-Power (Pistol); M4A1 Carbine (carbine assault rifle).

4.3     SCUBA Air Course

Candidates must pass a preliminary dive test of suitability for diving training, a shallow water diving course (0-20 metres) using self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA Air) (Defence Jobs, 2015). The SCUBA Air Course is 2-weeks in duration and is delivered by the RAN Diving School.

During week one of the SCUBA Air course candidates will be required to meet the following fitness standards:

  • Run 2.4 km in 12 minutes;
  • 30 press-ups;
  • 60 sit-ups;
  • 6 heaves; and
  • Swim 500m with fins in 14.30 minutes.

4.4     Clearance Diver Acceptance Test

The Clearance Diver Acceptance Test (CDAT), a 2-week course, is the first major hurdle that clearance diver candidates will face; colloquially known as ‘hell week’. Candidates begin each day at 02:00, and are put through over thirty staged dives designed to test their strength and endurance (ABC TV, 2008).

During week one of the CDAT candidates will be required to meet the following fitness standards:

  • Run 2.4 km in 10.15 minutes;
  • 30 press-ups;
  • 60 sit-ups;
  • 10 heaves; and
  • Swim 500m with fins in 13 minutes.

The CDAT is completed after the SCUBA Air course and is a prerequisite for further clearance diver training. If a candidate fails the CDAT they may be required to:

  • Transfer to another employment category (subject to Service requirements); or
  • Discharge At Own Request (DAOR).

Upon passing the CDAT candidates must successfully pass a number of specialist courses to become fully qualified.

4.5     Basic Clearance Diver Course

The Basic Clearance Diver Course (BCD) spans (approximately) 37-weeks (RAN, 2015b) and is delivered by the RAN Diving School, located at HMAS Penguin in Sydney, NSW. The Advanced Clearance Diver (ADV) Course and the Clearance Diving component of the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officers (CDO) Course span 41 weeks. The demands placed on potential applicants to this category are not seen elsewhere in the ADF except with the Special Forces (RAN, 2015b). During the nine months of training the course covers (RAN, 2012b):

  • Initial/Basic Demolitions course (?1-week);
  • Deep air: SSBA (Air) (Surface Supplied Breathing Apparatus (Air));
  • Underwater Tools;
  • Maritime Tactical Operations (MTO);
  • Mine Counter Measures (MCM);
  • Ship Bourne Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD);
  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Demolitions.

By the completion of the Basic Clearance Diver Course candidates will be required to meet the following fitness standards:

  • Run 2.4 km in 9 minutes;
  • 50 press-ups;
  • 120 sit-ups;
  • 18 heaves; and
  • Swim 500m with fins in 9.15 minutes.

Only on graduation from the BCD Course do applicants become CDs (Defence Jobs, 2015), and they are known by a variety of titles such as (Hetherington, 2013):

  • Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance Technician and Clearance Diver; and
  • Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver Explosive Ordnance Technician.

4.6     Further Courses

Clearance divers are also well trained in SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist and Extract) training, combat survival, various insertion techniques including parachuting, and finally hydrographic reconnaissance.

Further, clearance divers are also known to attend some courses at Singleton Army training centre including a reconnaissance survival course, and in some cases CQB (close quarter combat) training as part of the TAG role.


5.0     Pay and Allowances

As well as basic pay (or salary), personnel on completion of the Basic Clearance Diver Course will receive the clearance divers allowance within the range of $11,779 to $20,413 per year (as of 2015), dependent on posting (Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, 2015).

5.1     Return of Service

Due to the investment that the RAN puts into potential recruits there is, as of August 2015, a minimum period of service for both Officers and Sailors (Other Ranks) RAN divers of six years.

5.2     Rank Structure

Sailors (Other Ranks) within the clearance diver branch follow the same career path as other branches of the RAN:

  • Seaman Clearance Diver (SMNCD);
  • Able Seaman Clearance Diver (ABCD);
  • Leading Seaman Clearance Diver (LSCD);
  • Petty Officer Clearance Diver (POCD);
  • Chief Petty Officer Clearance Diver (CPOCD); and
  • Warrant Officer Clearance Diver (WOCD).

5.3     Accreditation

The RAN Diving School is an Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) accredited training establishment (ATE) and RAN graduates are entitled to ADAS certification on application. Personnel must pass one of the following courses:

  • RAN Basic Clearance Diver to 50m using SSBA (equivalent to ADAS Part 3 Restricted diver).
  • RAN Advanced Clearance Diver to 50m using SSBA (equivalent to ADAS Part 3 Restricted diver and Onshore Supervisor 50m); and
  • RAN Clearance Diving Officer to 50m using SSBA (equivalent to ADAS Part 3 Restricted diver and Onshore Supervisor 50m).

5.4     Glossary

  • Advance Force: A temporary organisation within the amphibious task force which precedes the main body to the objective area. Its function is to participate in preparing the objective for the main assault by conducting such operations as reconnaissance, seizure of supporting positions, mine-sweeping, preliminary bombardment, underwater demolitions and air support.
  • Counterinsurgency: Those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological and civic actions taken to defeat insurgency.
  • Counter-piracy: Those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological and civic actions taken to defeat piracy.
  • Counter-terrorism: All offensive measures taken to neutralise terrorism before and after hostile acts are carried out. Note: Such measures include those counterforce activities justified for the defence of individuals as well as containment measures implemented by military forces or civilian organisations.
  • Covert Operation: An operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of, or permit plausible denial, by the sponsor. A covert operation differs from a clandestine operation in that emphasis is placed on concealment of the identity of sponsor rather than on concealment of the operation.
  • Demonstration: An attack or show of force on a front where a decision is not sought, made with the aim of deceiving the enemy.
  • Mine Countermeasures (MCM): All methods for preventing or reducing damage or danger from mines.
  • Mission: A clear, concise statement of the task of the command and its purpose.
  • Reconnaissance: A mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy; or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic or geographic characteristics of a particular area.
  • Special Forces: Specially selected military personnel, trained in a broad range of basic and specialised skills, who are organised, equipped and trained to conduct special operations. Special Forces can be employed to achieve strategic, operational or tactical level objectives across the operational spectrum.
  • Surveillance: The systematic observation of aerospace, surface or subsurface areas, places, persons or things, by visual, aural, electronic, photographic or other means.

5.5     Useful Links

5.6     Documentaries

  • Navy Divers a four-part documentary first aired on ABC TV in October/November 2008, and produced by Prospero Productions. The documentary followed 27 candidates during their quest to become RAN Clearance Divers at the RAN diving training school in Sydney. Only 13 of the candidates were successful.

5.7     Books & Reports

  • Clearance Diver: The Life and Times of an Australian Navy Frogman written by Tony Ey and published in 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Navy Divers: The Incredible Story of the Australian Navy’s Elite Unit written by Gregor Salmon and published in 2012 by Random House.
  • Taylor, N.A., Groeller, H., Booth, J. & Walker, R. (2001) Review and Evaluation of Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers’ Tasks and Physical Assessments. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

5.8     Videos

5.9     References

ABC TV (2008) Navy Divers. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

Brooker, M.A. (2009) Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving in the Royal Australian Navy: Strategic Need and Future Capability. United Service. 60(2), pp.30-34.

Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (2015) ADF Permanent Pay Rates – 30 July 2015. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 20 August, 2015].

Defence Jobs (2015) Clearance Diver. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

DOD (Department of Defence) (2013) Divers Vital to War on Improvised Explosive Devices. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 22 August, 2015].

Global Military Review (2011) Australian Clearance Diving Team One (AUSCDT 1) On Training Mission. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

Grey, J. (1998). Up Top: the Royal Australian Navy and Southeast Asian Conflicts 1955-1972. The Official History of Australia’s Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948-1975. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Hardman, W. (2015) The Men who are Trained to be Invisible: Meet Australia’s Navy Clearance Divers. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

Hartigan, B. (2009) Where Eagles Wouldn’t Dare. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

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