Australian Special Operations

Clearance Diving Teams (CDT)

The Clearance Diving Teams (CDT) of the Royal Australian Navy also act as commando frogmen: they consist of naval personnel who are qualified in diving, demolitions, underwater repairs, and reconnaissance. They fulfill a Maritime Counter-Terrorist role as part of the waterborne troop of the Tactical Assault Group East (TAG EAST).

Units

There are two standing units based in Australia;

  • Clearance Diving Team One (AUSCDT ONE); assigned to the east of Australia and based at HMAS Waterhen in New South Wales
  • Clearance Diving Team Four (AUSCDT FOUR); assigned to the west of Australia and based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia

A third unit, Clearance Diving Team Three (AUSCDT THREE) is formed when clearance divers are sent into combat. CDT 3 saw extensive service in the Vietnam War, and during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War.

There are seven Reserve Diving Teams (RDT) that provide reinforcements for the regular CDTs:

  • Reserve Diving Team Six – Victoria
  • Reserve Diving Team Seven – Western Australia
  • Reserve Diving Team Eight – Southern Queensland
  • Reserve Diving Team Nine – South Australia
  • Reserve Diving Team Ten – Tasmania
  • Reserve Diving Team Eleven – Northern Territory
  • Reserve Diving Team Twelve – Northern Queensland

Role

The Clearance Diving Teams’ roles include:
1. Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), including:

  • Location and disposal of sea mines in shallow waters
  • Rendering safe and recovering enemy mines
  • The search for and disposal of ordnance below the high water mark
  • Clearance of surface ordnance in port or on naval facilities
  • Search for, rendering safe or disposal of all ordnance in RAN ships and facilities, including the removal of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

2. Maritime Tactical Operations including:

  • Clandestine hydrographic survey of an amphibious beach
  • Clandestine clearance or demolition of sea/land mines and/or obstacles
  • Clandestine placing of charges, demolitions for the purpose of diversion or demonstration
  • Underwater Battle Damage Repair

Operations

  • In the Vietnam War, Clearance Diving Team 3 was awarded the United States Meritorious Unit Commendation for its mine clearance work: see Non-U.S. winners of U.S. gallantry awards.
  • Performed mine clearance operations for Coalition Forces during the 1991 Gulf War.
  • In the East Timor conflict, covertly mapping Indonesian harbors and beaches.
  • 2003: In the Iraq War, where they supported U.S. Navy SEALs in mine clearance
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