For most people the first breath taken underwater is truly life changing. Whether its experiencing the marine life, overcoming a challenge or doing something that few get to experience; there is something that happens on most people’s first dive that fundamentally changes them as a person. It was exactly the same for me, I was completely hooked after my first DSD and before I had even started my Open Water Course, I was already had my mind set on becoming a Dive Pro.
Nearly every diver I meet has dreams of being an instructor and travelling the world. This is all very well and good but let’s face it, not everyone can or wants to teach. So what else is out there? What other jobs are there where you can work in diving but without the repetition of doing DSD after DSD, OW after OW? Without all the customer service? A mine clearance diver do I hear you say? Sounds interesting; I wanted to find out more!
What does it take to be a Mine Clearance Diver in the Royal Navy?
To be eligible for the role, you have to be between 18-32, taller that 151cm, a BMI of no more than 28 and preference is given to those with previous diving experience, although no formal qualifications are necessary!
You will play a central role in maritime counter-terror operations whether you’re shore based or on board a ship and you will deal with a range or ordnance, from state of the art mines, to World War Two devices. You will develop the ability to work accurately and calmly under extreme pressure in challenging and dangerous situations and you’ll use hydraulic and pneumatic tools and shoot video, while working at a max depth of 60m.
Sounds pretty cool right? The coolest part though, has definitely got to be that all this is completely achievable as woman.
Mine Clearance Diving is pegged as one of the most physically demanding roles in the Navy, and this is one of the few roles where men and women are required to meet the same standards (a good thing in my mind, no one can ever say you got it easier simply because you own a vagina).
What are the tests like?
You will have to run 2.4km on a treadmill within 10 minutes 30 seconds in your Pre-Joining Fitness Test. Yes, the first time you try it, this may seem completely impossible! The first time I ran 2.4km, it took around 18 minutes. A couple of months of training will soon see you cut this time down.
After you’ve passed this stage you’ll be taking on the Potential Divers Assessment, a 2 ½ day programme to further gauge your suitability and fitness to be a Navy diver. It’s pretty challenging and the standards are tough, but again – with the right training there is absolutely no reason why you can’t achieve the same standards that the men achieve.
- 8 chin-ups
- 40 sit-ups in under a minute
- 16 dips
- Carry 2 x 30kg dumbbells over 30m
- 1000m surface swim in dry suit and fins
- Water Circuits – jump from 6m board, swim across lake and run back to board (x3)
- 30-minute mud crossing techniques – carrying heavy diving gear across a muddy estuary
Have you got what it takes?
As well as the physical stuff, there will be a try dive to 7m in a tank, some confined water training as well as lessons on dive theory and equipment, where you will obviously have the upper hand as a qualified diver!
The military is super inclusive of women these days, but respect does have to be earned. If you get stuck in and give it your all there is no reason why you can’t do just as well, if not better than the men!
The Scuba Star behind the story
After finishing her degree in Environmental Geography, Gemma moved to Asia to chase the dream of getting paid to go dive. Following a season in Cyprus working with the British Army and the Royal Air Force training snipers, pilots, Ghurkas, reservists and everyone in between to dive, she decided to embark on a career in the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer, with the aim of specialising in Mine Clearance Diving. Follow Gemma on Instagram @divewithgemma