EU certified training module for ship and rescue divers
Based on the extended NTSS study and the conclusions of a diving workshop held in La Spezia (Italy) in September 2017, EDA launched a new project in spring 2018 in order to design and conduct a course module to harmonise European ship diving and ship-based rescue diving standards and practices. The overall objective is the identification, recognition and mutual certification of common EU military diving standards.
Showcase event held in Toulon
As part of that ongoing project, and in order to test and confirm the practical implications involved in joint diving training and operation, an EDA ‘showcase event’ was held on 3 April 2019 in the harbour of St. Mandrier, near Toulon (France). Four diving teams from Germany, Spain, Poland and Romania participated in this exercise, as well as high ranking naval officers from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Poland and Romania. The aim was to conduct joint interventions under real conditions based on realistic naval incident scenarios and to demonstrate how the proposed common standards would successfully work in practice.
As an example: Romanian and Polish divers worked hand in hand to recover an anchor while Spanish and a German diving team jointly inspected a frigate’s hull and performed repair work on a pier using heavy underwater welding equipment. The practical part of the event was complemented by a static display of different equipment and procedures ashore.
The in and out of water demonstration of interoperable diving teams from different Member States applying proposed common standards was hailed as a great success by all participants. EDA’s Project Team Naval Training was encouraged to continue promoting the identified standards and seek their swift endorsement by EU Member States as a next step.
Participants of the showcase event concluded that the identification of common diving standards is a perfect example of how Member States can strengthen their defence capabilities and make them interoperable at a low cost, for the benefit of everybody. In attendance on the day, Commodore Malone, Flag Officer Commanding the Irish Naval Service, commented that “EU common diving standards will facilitate greater Pooling & Sharing of diving training across Member States, while enhancing interoperability”.
Once the standards are endorsed, the next step would be to create a pilot course for ship divers open to Member States’ trainees to achieve a common certification recognised in all participating Member States.
In the meantime, Bulgaria, Greece and France launched a PESCO project aimed at setting up a ‘Deployable Modular Underwater Intervention Capability Package’ (DIVEPACK). The objective is to develop an interoperable specialised modular asset for full spectrum defensive underwater intervention operations in expeditionary setting. The DIVEPACK unit will integrate a wide range of diving and unmanned underwater vehicles materiel, operated by qualified personnel, in a comprehensive capability package. Its mission tailorable open architecture ‘plug-and-play’ concept will facilitate the versatility of response in the framework of EU CSDP operations and will provide a quick reaction capability, applicable to a broad range of underwater scenarios, both at sea and in inland waters.
Furthermore Romania, Bulgaria and France have launched the PESCO project ‘European Union Network of Diving Centres’ in order to optimise the use of training capacities, harmonise training requirements and course syllabuses.