Dive Officers are like the Navy equivalent to Army “Sappers”. Although ” Sappers” are only used to clear out mine fields during or after a war. Dive Officers carry out work that goes beyond only clearing out mines.
Bangladesh Navy’s Basic Diving Officer course, is a world class course offered to Navy personnel from all operational branches. For it’s quality of training as well as experienced and superiorly trained instructors, personnel from foreign Navies such as Malaysia, Nepal, Sudan and India are also sent from their respective forces to be trained here.
Course duration is of fourteen weeks, where all trainee officers undergo rigorous training in Basic Diving, underwater mine clearing, hull cleaning, area clearing for VIPs, combat diving, underwater repairs of ship or other structures.
Applicants are selected by an interview board which includes some suitability tests for the trainees to be. This is to ensure that no incompetent trainees are included. Standard Physical tests are carried out, chamber test is carried out to make sure a trainee is able to withstand the immense pressure of water while diving at great depths.
A full health check is also conducted before being selected, the test range from the size of the heart of an applicant to the gum layout, to see if the applicant is able to properly bite into the SCUBA or CCU mouth piece.
During the chamber test the candidate is put inside a chamber, and the pressure inside is raised to a certain degree; which is 3-4 times greater than the normal atmospheric pressure. This puts immense pressure on the candidate’s ear drum and lungs.
If the candidate passes the chamber test without any difficulties he is then sent for the last phase of selection. The swimming test, a candidate is expected to swim a total distance of 500m within 14 minutes; if not less.
Then the main phase of training begins. BNS Nirvik as many of you know is the home to our Naval Commandos, also hosts the BDO course. Trainees are introduced to diving equipments and diving techniques.
Three types of dive equipments are used by BDOs, each for a different mission. CCU, SSDS & SCUBA.
CCUBA or Closed Circuit Underwater Breathing Apparatus are used by divers during combat dives. CCUBAs doesn’t produce any bubbles as a result the location of the diver or a dive team remains unanimous to the enemy. Combat dives include amphibious assault either on land or at Sea, sabotage, clandestine surveying, clandestine underwater work & underwater mine clearance and bomb disposal.
Now for the second type of dive gears used by our Navy divers. SSD or Surface Supplied Diving, this means that unlike SCUBA or CCBUA where a diver’s breathing equipment is self contained and has no connection to the surface; during SSD dives the diver is supplied with breathing gas through a diver’s umbilical from either from a diving support vessel, from shore or indirectly from a diving bell. Because the diver is provided with oxygen from the surface dive time is increased considerably and risk of drowning is reduced.
Surface Supplied Diving is required for maintenance of oil rigs, to secure a hull breach of a ship or any other underwater maintenance required by the Navy or in some cases civilian maintenance too.
At last the most common type of dive gear and type of diving is SCUBA. SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater breathing Apparatus, much like CCUBA but, SCUBA produces a lot of bubbles and the sound of the regulator is very high which is why SCUBA is not used during combat diving. Because of the bubbles and sound, enemy can easily detect a dive group. SCUBA is mainly used for search and rescue, search and recovery or ships husbandry. SCUBA diving is also the first to be introduced to the trainees at the very beginning of the course, as it’s much easier to master compared to other type of diving.
Trainees also undergo firing training, physical exercise, underwater map reading and beach infiltration. After all these they are required to pass tests on all that they learned. And only after that they are presented with the distinguished OBC brevet and are eligible to be called Dive officers.