CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan – Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, qualified in the Diving Supervisor Course off the northeast coast of Camp Schwab June 7.
The course trains the candidates to become diving supervisors for Marine Corps reconnaissance battalions. Once qualified, they are capable of supervising their Marines during combat diving operations. A Marine Corps diving supervisor is responsible for their divers and the safety and of diving operations.
“It doesn’t benefit me as much as it benefits the community, because we can’t execute a dive without dive supervisors,” said Gunnery Sgt. Hunter Sorrells, a dive supervisor candidate with 3rd Recon Bn. “When we’re out on (deployments), we don’t have the luxury of calling up a supervisor, saying we need to dive or do a mission that involves a dive insert; they’re not going to be on call for us. So, we have to have qualified dive supervisors.”
The Master Diver, who oversees the diving course and the candidates, has the most experience and knowledge on all aspects of diving and underwater salvage.
The course begins with candidates briefing the divers on the mission, hazards of the dive and emergency procedures. Then, evaluators create a scenario for the candidates during the dive which allows them to assess the candidates’ ability to handle those situations.
“The skills you learn in the dive (supervisor course) are going to save lives,” said Sorrells.
In order to qualify, dive supervisor candidates must go through a three-week course, with drills on open- and closed-circuit diving, focusing on everything the candidates need to know about diving. In open-circuit diving, the diver exhales their wasted oxygen into the surrounding waters, while in closed-circuit diving the exhaled gas is recycled and reused through the diving set. After qualifying, they can supervise their Marines’ dives.
“When you come here, the knowledge you learned in dive school is a refresher,” said Sorrells. “But as a Supervisor, you’re learning to diagnose issues that you may have with a diver, such as loss of air or a lost diver.”
A supervisor has to be a subject-matter expert on all aspects of diving, according to Petty Officer 1st Class Greg S. Early, a Navy diver with 3rd Recon Bn.
“You have to know everything about diving, implement it and be able to recommend a treatment if something does happen, and you need to be able to do it immediately, which is probably one of the hardest things,” said Sorrells. “You control the whole dive down there. Everything that goes wrong is your fault and you have to fix it.”
The candidates have been putting forth a lot of effort and are really good at what they do, said Early.
“We, as Navy divers, cover a huge range of diving, but the Marines have a very large skill set,” said Early. “I’m really impressed with how capable, qualified and efficient they’ve been.”