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Royal Navy Clearance Diving 


Originated with the ‘P’ Parties clearing European ports and their approaches of German ordnance and booby traps after D-Day in World War II.



Until circa 2000, there were two types of diver in the Royal Navy:


Ship’s Diver (formerly the Shallow Water Diver): 

Could be of any rank or specialisation and was trained to use

self-contained open-circuit compressed air diving apparatus

to search the ship’s hull for explosive devices or perform

simple underwater engineering tasks. 


Clearance Diver:  A more advanced and elite specialist, trained

in the use of all types of service diving equipment including surface demand and closed-circuit mixture breathing apparatus to perform deeper diving, EOR (Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance), EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal otherwise known as bomb & mine disposal)

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IEDD (Improvised Explosive Device Disposal), salvage operations and complex underwater engineering tasks.


Today, only the 'Royal Navy Clearance Diver' (RNCD) remains.


World War II:  In the hours before and during D-Day, RNCDs cleared 2500 mines and other obstructions from the approaches to the Normandy beaches, whilst under fire, significantly reducing the risk to Allied sailors and soldiers.  One isolated moment in history was where RNCDs were involved in the rendering safe and recovery of the first German magnetic mine (Type GA) at Shoeburyness on 23 November 1939.  The men involved were awarded the first Royal Navy decorations of the war. 

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Post-War Operations has also seen their involvement in:


  • Konfrontasi (the Indonesian Confrontation) in the 1960s.

  • The clearance of the Suez Canal in 1956 and 1974.

  • The Red Sea in 1975.

  • The Falklands in 1982.

  • The Iran/Iraq Tanker War in 1986

  • The first and second Gulf wars in 1991 and 2003.

  • Afghanistan (IED).

Clearance Diving teams are still kept busy on and around

UK shores. A RNCD Unit is permanently stationed in the

Persian Gulf as well as serving with NATO forces in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

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