By 1lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer#103, December 20, 2000
Jajce - A black hood breaks the surface, then another.
The gurgling-sound from the breathing aperture, and a thumbs-up, signals
that all is well. Then the hoods disappear again, leaving just a trail
of bubbles from the deep.
keep in training, Canadian Combat Divers have to dive at least six times
every 90 days, regardless where in the world they are. Therefore, the
divers from 12 Field Squadron of the 2 Princess Patricia's Canadian
Light Infantry (PPCLI) Battle Group takes to the water in Jajce whenever
they get a chance.
"We try to do this every month to keep ourselves current. A combat
divers task includes demolition, mine-warfare, search and rescue,
and providing safety for other water activities", explains Officer
Commanding (OC) Maj. Craig Braddon.
current they are. The experienced divers have been used for many dangerous
and tragic missions. Among them, recovering casualties from a downed
commercial airliner which crashed in the Atlantic ocean, just off Peggy's
Cove in Nova Scotia (Canada) 1998. All of the nearly 200 passengers
died in the crash.
just before we came to Theatre, we had a tornado in Alberta (Canada).
Several caravans blew into a lake, and our divers worked with the recovery.
Luckily, it turned out that no people were in the vehicles", said
At Jajce, the divers must be cautious. Pipes and dam-systems in the
lake are a danger, restricting the area where diving is safe. But safety
is not something the Canadian Combat Divers take lightly.
have tested the water, and stay away from any dam-features. We always
have boats following the divers, and have an ambulance on site",
A water-temperature of eight degrees centigrade does not scare them.
"No, it's not cold. Not for guys like us", laughed Cpl. Kevin
Their wet-suits keep the cold away.
"The water is good, and we have good visibility. Now we just did
a navigation swim and checked the embankment. We actually found two
sunken 20 feet long wooden boats", he said.
a navigation swim, the divers take out a bearing and coarse to their
destination, and navigate themselves under water to reach it.
"During these dives, we go no deeper than 20 feet", said Maj.
It's not unlikely that the expertise of the Canadian Combat Divers will
be needed in the Theatre.
"Last time I was down here, in 1996, we had to dive under a destroyed
bridge to see what was underneath before the engineers could rebuild
it", said Braddon.
Anyway, the diving training is a welcomed break from their normal routines
at Camp Maple Leaf in Zgon.
"The hardest thing is to find time for it. But it's good for our
morale to get to dive out here and away from camp", smiles Cpl.
Nations of SFOR: Canada