Hollywood has familiarised us with the basics of bomb disposal. From Goldfinger to The Hurt Locker, we've come to know that neutralising a device designed to cause massive destruction is a job best left to a specialist, a particularly courageous, skilled, and perhaps mad individual. Let them start cutting wires.
What Hollywood hasn't enlightened us on, however, is bomb disposal as a Navy diver sees it. To do that, we should start with a naval mine so powerful its blast would sink a 2000-ton warship in seconds. Rig this mine so that it will explode if tampered with, and then drop it by parachute into enemy watersnot the clear Mediterranean but the cold, muddy flows of a British estuary. The diver's task is to render this skittish device safenderwater with next to no visibility. On land a bomb technician might have about seventeen seconds to try and sprint clear if the fuse starts to run. Underwater, there is no hope of escape. He lives or dies by the success of his jobto strip the mine and render it safe so the enemy's handiwork can be carefully examined.
Welcome to the world of Navy clearance divers, an elite unit of the Australian armed forces. Many men aspire to become clearance divers but many fail. To become a member you must pass a selection process that is as rigorous as that set for the Army's Special Air Service regiment. There would be few, if any, military outfits in the world that would surpass them in terms of training, fitness and expertise. Navy Divers will take a rare look into the world of these unsung heroes.
Author, Gregor Salmon has been given unprecedented access to their training and exercises. He'll bear witness to their acceptance testing, training, at-sea exercises and, potentially, their deployment in two theatresAfghanistan and the waters off Somalia. The result promises to be a fascinating account of the Australian Navy's most elite unit. These men are without doubt a breed apart and it's high time their exceptional story was told.