Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Anderson.
In ALCOAST 037/14, the Coast Guard announced the creation of the diver, or DV, rate and an associated chief warrant officer, or DIV, specialty.
Divers perform the spectrum of the 11 Coast Guard missions under the water including law enforcement with investigation diving, aids to navigation, polar operations with repair under the polar icebreakers, looking for under water explosive threats, search and rescue victim recovery, environmental protection and national defense by augmenting the U.S. Navy.
“It is imperative that the Coast Guard have an organic workforce capable of operating in the underwater threat arena as the world’s premier maritime service,” said Lt. Cmdr. Trevor Hare, Coast Guard diving program manager. “As criminal organizations, militaries, civilians and non-governmental agencies expand their presence beneath the surface, it is critical that we have an operational presence there ready to meet the threats and challenges these entities bring with them,” he said.
The creation of the DV rating, the Coast Guard’s 22nd rate , and DIV specialty was the result of a 17-month analysis by the Diver Career Management Working Group that considered mission requirements, safety issues and longstanding workforce management considerations.
Following the review of the working group’s results, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp directed the establishment of the DV rating with at least 64 enlisted personnel and seven DIV warrant officers.
The last collateral-duty divers attached to Coast Guard 14th District buoy tenders are being reassigned as primary-duty divers to a third dive unit, Regional Dive Locker Pacific, which is currently being established at Oahu, Hawaii.
These refinements are the culmination of a comprehensive dive program review that began after an accident aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy in 2006. In the eight successive years, the Coast Guard improved diving proficiency and retention by making diving a primary duty and creating the first two regional dive lockers to centralize control, training and operations.
The focus on safety, proficiency, experience and effectiveness is paying dividends. Coast Guard divers have doubled their operational employment over the last four years.
“The experience Coast Guard divers are building on the bottom today is important to our continued safe and successful operations,” said Hare. “The DV rating will allow us to sustain and grow from our current trained, proficient divers to chief warrant officer master divers much like bosun surfmen or cuttermen.”
Building upon experience is essential to the dive program. Applicants will lateral from other E-5 ratings and the DV rating will have its base paygrade begin at E-5. Lateral rating criteria are being developed, and applicants will most likely need to fulfill any “A” school obligations in their legacy ratings prior to applying for a lateral to the DV rating.
Rated petty officers transiting to a diver rating allow the dive teams to capitalize on legacy rated experience valuable to diving operations – deck rigging, engineering and out of the box skill sets.
Enlisted personnel will become DVs after successful graduation from the 2nd class dive school at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., which will act much like an “A” school.
From there, DVs will have their diving duties linked to competency-based promotion and will progress from a 2nd class diver at E-5, to a 1st class diver at E-6 and E-7 and finally to a master diver at E-8 and above.
Qualified E-4 to CWO-4 military divers will be solicited for lateral to the DV rating and DIV specialty with anticipated laterals beginning in 2015.
“Coast Guard divers have a storied history that began in the 1940s with the Frogmen who operated under the Office of Strategic Services in WWII,” Hare said. “As the Coast Guard Diving program has matured, we’ve continued to increase our capabilities to support environmental, law enforcement, scientific research and recovery operations. The DV rating and its tiered apprentice-journeyman-master proficiency pyramid ensure the Coast Guard has the expertise and capabilities to safely and effectively support a wide spectrum of Coast Guard missions in the underwater domain.”
Additional information including timelines and criteria for lateral applications, DIV appointments and upcoming pre-screening programs will be forthcoming.