Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Anderson.
From the cold, murky water of the northeastern United States, working by touch alone, to the pure clear waters of the Arctic, the sparkling blue of the Pacific and emerald green of the Gulf of Mexico, Coast Guard divers deploy across the globe to support six maritime mission sets beneath the waves.
Formalizing the role divers play across the service’s diverse mission sets, the Coast Guard announced the creation of the diver, or DV, rate and an associated chief warrant officer, or DIV, specialty, Jan 31, 2014.
Coast Guard divers have a storied history that began in the 1940s with intelligence gathering and subsurface activities supporting the Office of Strategic Services, a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. They were also assigned to the Navy Yard at Washington, D.C., to support salvage operations.
Today, they sweep ports and waterways during coastal security missions; conduct salvage and recovery operations; inspect Coast Guard cutter hulls; survey coral reefs and environmental sensitive areas; repair, maintain and place of aids to navigation; conduct polar operations as well as conduct joint operations with United States and international military divers.
In 2013, Coast Guard divers conducted hundreds of missions and more than 1,900 dives around the world. The dive program also doubled the underwater experience each diver receives annually.
“Diving, like many Coast Guard operations, is inherently dangerous, and it is vital to meeting our underwater responsibilities in maritime safety, security and stewardship,” said Rear Adm. Mark Butt, assistant commandant for capability. “A dedicated DV rating and DIV career path ensures safety, increases experience and improves technical proficiency of our professional Coast Guard divers.”
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. 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.
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 experience Coast Guard divers are building on the bottom today is important to our continued safe and successful operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Trevor Hare, Coast Guard diving program manager. “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.”
The focus on safety, proficiency, experience and effectiveness is paying dividends. Coast Guard divers have doubled their operational employment over the last four years.