I became a US Navy Diver in 1995 at NDSTC Class 95-20 EOD. The training we did was some of the hardest, physically and intellectually, training I've ever done!
To be Navy EOD you must first be a Navy Diver. If you can't make it through the program then you do not go on to EOD School. Being a diver is what sets us apart from the other branches of the military EOD units.
Deep Sea Diver: Down Range, Double Crimping, Anti Magnetic, Non-Ferrous, half Animal Man Killers, The Last of the Ballroom Dancers, Bare Knuckle Fighters, Fancy Dressers, Motorcycle Riders, Sports Car Driver, and all around Good Guy...Active Nudist.
Besides EOD Divers there are also SCUBA, 2nd Class, 1st Class, Saturation (SAT), Marine Combat (MCD) and SEAL's. All of these with the exception of SEAL candidates train at NDSTC in Panama City, FL. There are subsets of 2nd and 1st Class divers that are attended by Sea Bees and Army Engineers.
Now that I've been out of the Navy for about 10 years, I've still been able to dive as somewhat of a commercial diver but mainly as a UXO Diver. I did some hard hat surface supplied training in class and have done some surface supplied dives for minor construction jobs.
The doors are wide open to make money as a diver whether it's SCUBA diving in the Caribbean or hard hat diving off of an oil rig.
Navy Diver Training
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I really can't go any further without telling my favorite Dive School story.
My best friend, Frank, dropped me off at the school, we had a few beers and he headed over to some renaissance fair for the weekend before returning home. My training was starting on Monday.
We were in our first week of training which is generally a beat down. My class and I were in a circle doing some stretches to cool down after our morning PT. Just thinking that we were done and would be able to go to class, this Instructor walks up to me and asks, "Do you know Frank Greene?"
"Yes." I said thinking this is going to suck!
"He requested that you do...What was that word?"
"Copious." I replied.
"That's it! Copious amounts of push-ups."
Turns out that Frank had met one of the Instructors at a cappuccino stand at the renaissance fair. Frank had asked him what he did for a living. After finding out that he was an instructor at the Dive School, Frank gladly volunteered, "I just dropped off my best friend who's a student at the Dive School.
While a student at Naval Dive Salvage Training Center in Panama City, FL, you'll be studying dive physics, dive medicine, SCUBA, mixed gas diving, small boat operations in a mine environment and doing copious amounts of push ups.
It's tough training but it's designed to keep you alive. I lost my air 5 times at work for varying reasons such as the regulator blew apart, etc.
It was the training that kept me alive!
Operational Navy Diver
Fast forward 14 months and I'm now heading to EOD Mobile Unit 8 in Sicily, Italy.
The Mobile Units are broken into 6-8 man teams called Detachments or Dets.
I went on my first op with Det 2 to Holland where we dove on ships in port looking for limpets while wearing SCUBA, open water searches measured out in lanes wearing the MK16 rebreather and some shallow water dives to clear up to the high water mark on the beaches.
The next couple of years I was able to dive in the Straights of Gibraltar, inside the Rock of Gibraltar, the Straights of Istanbul, the Black Sea, Port of Haifa, Montpellier France, Denmark, Germany, Sicily, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and even Bosnia.
After some high op tempo years with SPECWAR and SF, I was sent to be an Instructor at NDSTC to teach the Navy Diver program.
When you first check in, the list of in-house qualifications is extensive. You won't see a student for a while. The School House is built around 3 giant recompression chambers and you have to understand the piping systems that drive them.
There were 8 chambers on site that you had to know before moving on. To be an instructor you also had to sit through each class with the students so that you could fine tune your teaching techniques that you previously learned at the military instructor school.
I had a great time as an Instructor, met my great friend Jason Marks and have even run into some of my former students that are now doing well driving the Navy EOD community.
Commercial UXO Diver
The UXO community is a great place to be and I highly recommend anyone looking for a change in their career to look at being a commercial diver.
Being a Commercial UXO Diver is very difficult to get into because many of the contracts that awarded state that you must have been Navy EOD.
However, there are some exceptions to this when the job is not overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
I've done a job in Concord, California and am currently slated for an underwater UXO job on the west coast as well as one following in Hawaii.
Your base pay is going to start out around $80 per hour and go up from there.
If you're young and fit, I highly recommend being a Navy Diver or going Navy EOD. You may or may not make it but if you do, you'll enjoy the ride.
If you're even remotely interested in underwater UXO, I highly recommend going to UXO school and then go to either an advanced SCUBA or commercial dive school.
If you have any questions about which direction you'd like to go, please use the "Contact Me" tab to your left.
Hoo Yah Navy Deep Sea Divers!