NAVY DIVE SCHOOL
After WW I (1914-18) navy diving programs had diminished to the point that in 1925 the navy had only a handful of divers qualified to go deeper than 90 feet. To remedy this, the Naval School of Diving & Salvage (NSDS) was re-established at the Washington Navy Yard in 1927.
When the passenger liner Normandie, caught fire alongside New York Citys Pier 88, the huge amounts of water pumped during fire-fighting efforts caused the ship to capsize. To take advantage of the training value in salvaging this ship, the Naval Training School (Salvage) was established in New York in September 1942. This was in addition to NSDS at the Washington Navy Yard. Then in 1946 Naval Training School (Salvage) was moved from New York to Bayonne, NJ, as portrayed in Men of Honor where Carl Brashear graduated Second Class dive school in 1954.
From the 1950s to the 1980s there were numerous diving programs run at various diving commands including scuba and second class diver schools in Little Creek, Virginia; New London, Connecticut; 32nd Street Naval Base in San Diego; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was 1980 when the current navy dive school was established at the Naval Diving & Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, Florida, however a few other scuba and second class dive schools continued to operate into the late eighties.
NDSTC is the premier military deep-sea diving school in the world offering a variety of controlled training environments including pools, chambers and docks, as well as direct access to open water diving in St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
NDSTC facilities include modern classrooms for formal study, lab areas for "hands-on" equipment training, a large pool for physical training and basic scuba skills, and three Pressure Vessel Assemblies (PVA). The PVAs are very sophisticated multi-lock chambers and wet-pots that allow year round training for deep qualification diving, emergency recompression treatments, and diving candidate pressure training.
Since completion in 1980, thousands of carefully selected US and international students from all branches of the armed forces have been trained in diving and salvage at NDSTC. In training, students are required to demonstrate a level of comfort while performing a variety of tasks underwater. These tasks, called projects, are designed to test the students ability to function efficiently in an alien environment, wearing cumbersome diving equipment.
One of the most difficult facets of training for young sailors is the academics, contributing to a high percentage of the washouts. Academically, students are trained in the basic gas laws as they relate to diving, diving medicine, recompression chamber operations, dive planning, salvage mathematics and salvage operations. The classroom routine is very demanding and requires the total commitment of the students.
To eliminate potentially weak individuals before they are committed to more dangerous deepwater operations, diver training at NDSTC is not easy by design. It demands effort, both physical and mental. The gold-shirted instructors set a high standard, but as the school literature states, with a positive attitude and the basic required physical ability, the student will be able to meet the challenge with confidence.
As of 2001, NDSTC had a staff of 160 males and 10 females processing over 1,500 students per year in a several different programs. At any given time there are 150-200 students on board, classed-up in their various diving specialties.
The programs offered at NDSTC include:
Second Class Diver (2C) covering Scuba, MK 20 and MK 21 is the entry-level program for most deep-sea diver applicants. This is a 100-day course providing instruction and training in surface-supplied air and scuba diving techniques, along with underwater repair, salvage and search procedures. Instruction includes diving physics and medicine, scuba and surface supported diving systems, underwater tools and work techniques, and underwater cutting and welding procedures. This course qualifies trainees to a maximum depth of 190 feet.
Underwater Construction Basic (UCB) which includes 2nd Class Diver and is required for all SeaBees and Army Corps of Engineers divers.
Basic Diving Officer (BDO)
EOD Diver where students work with both scuba and the MK 16 rebreather. This is a pre-requisite for all personnel on track for actual explosive ordnance disposal school.
Marine Combat Diver (MCD) Marines work with scuba and the MK 25 closed-circuit rebreather to ultimately become Marine Reconnaissance Combatant Swimmers. It is 35 training days in length and divided into four modules of instruction: Physical Conditioning, Combat diver fundamentals, USMC Open Circuit SCUBA, and USMC Closed Circuit operations. The course provides underwater infiltration tactical training in accordance with current Marine Corps training and mission performance standards.
Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman required for the corpsman assigned to Marine Recon platoons
Diving Medical Technician (DMT) is a 119-day course designed to provide qualified Hospital Corpsman (HM) with the training necessary to perform surface-supplied diving as a team member/diver and to understand the responsibilities and duties of a diving supervisor. Instruction includes advanced diving physics, medicine and underwater physiology to enable the hospital corpsman to understand the effects of pressure on the human body and the treatment of diving related injuries such as the bends (DCS) and gas embolisms (AGE). There is particular emphasis on the use of Navy standard decompression tables. The prerequisite is qualification as Hospital Corpsman and since all US Navy Diving Medical Technicians (DMTs) are trained in all aspects of diving, the first 20-weeks is the same as the Diver Second Class training.
Diving Medical Officer (DMO)
HeO2 Mixed-Gas Diver is a 14-day course that provides qualified First Class divers follow-on training in all phases of surface-supplied mixed-gas diving. Instruction includes extensive training in surface supplied mixed gas diving, diving medicine and operations of transfer/mixing equipment. Prerequisite courses are: Diver First Class, Diving Medical Technician, Basic Diving Officer or Diving Medical Officer.
First Class Diver (1C) covering mixed-gas diving and dive supervision. Diver, First Class, is a 40-day course designed to provide qualified Second Class Divers with the training necessary to perform operational air diving as a dive team member/diver and to better understand the responsibilities and duties of a diving supervisor. Instruction includes advanced diving physics and medicine, dive system certification, planning for all manner of surface-supplied diving operations, open circuit scuba and hyperbaric chamber operations. The prerequisite for this course is Diver Second Class.
Master Diver Evaluations a 10-day course which evaluates qualified First Class Divers and Saturation Divers, E-7 or above, to determine the candidates ability to successfully perform as Diving supervisors in all facets of Navy Diving. This course is for evaluation purposes only and as such is not available for International students.
Saturation Diver is an 18 day course which provides the theory behind saturation diving for qualified First Class divers, medical deep sea diving technicians, deep sea (HE02) diving officers and undersea medical officers. Instruction includes saturation diving theory, and operation and maintenance of atmospheric monitoring equipment. Prerequisite courses are: U.S. Diver First Class, Diving Medical Technician, Basic Diving Officer or Diving Medical Officer