Earlier this week the Compass posted an article about a mission to clean up a Hawaiian national monument. The story provided a behind the scenes, or should I say, below the surface glimpse into the missions Guardians perform to protect the nation’s natural resources.
It also brought up an interesting topic not yet covered by the Compass… the Coast Guard dive program. Coast Guard divers do not get much public recognition for the work they do. They often dive in places where visibility is less than two feet and it’s safe to say, the nature of their work is not always glorious. But these divers work day in-day out to accomplish our missions and are called upon to do all kinds of work below the water surface, ranging from inspecting the hulls of ships for damage to working on aids to navigation to searching for explosives.
What’s even more impressive than the work they do, is the training they must receive in order to be a certified Coast Guard diver. Each year, 40 to 50 applicants are selected to attend the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, Florida. Men, women, enlisted, and officer all have the opportunity for selection but the competition is tough. AT NDSTC, students undergo intensive pool training including a rigorous confidence test and emergency decompression training to see if they can handle the pressure (no pun intended) of being a Coast Guard diver. If this doesn’t sound grueling enough, students also have traditional coursework covering the science and physiology of diving. After completing their training, students graduate and are assigned one of only 112 dive billets within the Coast Guard.