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KENYA NAVY FUNCTIONS

CLEARANCE DIVING UNIT (CDU)

Due to the intensive physical and warfare training, both individual and as a group; due to their special psychological conditioning and their bravery and courage, the Clearance Diving Unit (CDU) is an important component of Kenya Navy and is therefore considered the 'fist' of the Navy on land, sea and air.

The Clearance Diving Unit is an integral component of our Naval institution. It was established in 1978 as a small group of seven men, with the purpose to support the Navy fleet in ships husbandry. In this case, the tasks were:

  • Ships hull inspection.
  • Swimmer of the watch.
  • Shallow water diving.
  • Life saving.

The tasks above in their modest description made the men to be classified as Ships Divers. The CDU has continued to be reviewed and expanded, and more equipment acquired to make it "Blue Navy" compliant the very reason this small section of the fleet was formed.

More men were recruited into the unit while those already in service received advanced training, covering areas like deep sea diving , parachute dropping, explosive disposal and more. This evolution led to the change of name from Ships Diving Section to its present Clearance Diving Unit (CDU). This Unit currently boasts of one of the most prestigious and elitist departments in the Kenya Navy and its population continue to expand gradually.

ROLES OF CDU

  • Conduct diving during docking and undocking of ships.
  • Conduct underwater hull inspection.
  • Conduct mines clearance and mine lying.
  • Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD).
  • Beach survey.
  • Hydrographic Reconnaissance.
  • Conduct Search and Rescue Operations.
  • Ships salvage and minor underwater engineering.
  • Aid to Civil Authority.
  • Conduct parachute droppings.
  • Undertake Special Combat Operation.

TRAINING

Recruitment into this Unit is purely voluntary but the selection and eventual acceptance into the unit to start training is religiously strict. For one to qualify, one must be:

  • Physically, medically and mentally fit.
  • No traces of deformity should be traced from toes to skull.
  • Full body X-ray is mandatory.

This invites vigorous physical fitness exercises and endurance tests. Usually, during the early stages, many qualify and are put into the greatest tests of their lives but only a few complete the training and earn the "pin".

The trainees take eight weeks and the successful "baby" divers graduate as Class III Divers. This is the point where "men" are separated from the "boys". However, due to the strenuous nature of the training, the duration is usually longer because of the high standards expected. The regular Courses stretch the trainees' psychological and physical capacities to the utmost limits so that each may prove to himself that with willingness and adequate training, he may develop activities ten times greater than he would imagine and fulfill incredible missions.

The unit today boasts of men trained in special warfare in overseas institutions that has seen them graduate as the war machines of the Kenya Navy. They have accomplished respected courses like SEAL, EOD, Deep Sea diving, Mine Clearance/Laying, IED, Salvage and Oceaneering, amongst others.

MISSION OF THE NAVY COMMANDOS

In the Navy, apart from the huge and sophisticated warships and weaponry systems, the CDU has some of the most expensive equipment. Due to the complex nature of its activities, environmental conditions being so adverse and risks high, the costly equipment in their yards enable them to accomplish near-impossible missions. Those could be at the beaches, in harbours or out of channel clearances. They could involve, disposal of IED's, inserting/extracting by sea, air and land and other numerous tasks that may be given in a joint operation scenario.

WITHIN AMPHIBIOUS CONTEX:

  • Assaults and sabotage on anchored or navigating vessels and on port facilities.
  • Clearing of beaches.
  • Blasting of underwater obstacles.
  • Inspection of hulls of naval units.
  • Recovery of objects from the bottom of the sea.

ON LAND:

  • They develop operations for the reconnaissance of strategic targets for destruction.
  • Ambushes.
  • Blasting of obstacles on land with explosives.
  • In addition, the unit has specially trained personnel on explosives who are specialized in the detection,deactivation and disposal of bombs.
  • Improvised explosive devices and non-detonated missiles.

IN THE AIR:

  • They execute operational and commanded jumps from great heights that enable them to infiltrate enemy line using parachutes, providing them with great capacity for penetration .
  • Free falling jumps .
  • Launching of fully equipped boats (Rubber Ducks) and cargo .

In addition to the excellent psycho-physical strength of these warriors, they are equipped with modern weapons and state-of-the-art equipment: latest diving kits, night vision goggles, GPS, underwater communication systems, ROV, to mention but a few.

SUPPORT TO NAVAL UNITS:

The Clearance Diving Unit offers important support to the Naval Units in general.

  • They remove propellers.
  • Carry out underwater welding tasks.
  • Clear obstacles from the sea bottom and close to the Naval facilities.
  • They clean hulls.
  • They work with explosives.
  • Recover equipment that have fallen into the sea.
  • Inspect docks and life boats of vessels.
  • Their work is projected towards salvaging and protecting human life.
  • Provide treatment in hyperbaric chambers for military and civilians with decompression diseases and others that require oxygen therapy treatment

DECK DECOMPRESSION CHAMBER (DDC) FACILITY

The DDC facility is one of the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art equipment at the Naval CDU. A first in CDU inventory, it has been used on numerous occasions to save lives and continues to save life, not only for Kenya Navy Divers, but also for civilians for various decompression treatments.

The Hyperbaric Treatment Chamber was installed in 1980 and since then has continued to provide useful service to members of the unit and civilians. It is being manned by Kenya Navy personnel and stands out as a unique facility and the only one of its kind in the vast East Africa Region. The other two facilities can only be found in Cairo, Egypt and Durban, South Africa.

The presence of this facility, which is registered and known by members of Divers Alert Network (DAN) worldwide, contributes immensely to the well being of Naval officers and civilians, particularly tourists who frequent Kenya's Coast. Since installation, the DDC facility has offered treatment for sea related illnesses to over one hundred patients. Apart from local civilians who have sought treatment at this facility others have been tourists from France, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Zanzibar and Tanzania. Most complaints include Type II Diving Decompression Sickness (DCS), Pulmonary Over-Infections Syndrome (POIS), Arterial Gas Embolism (AGE) and Mild Type IDCS.

In 1997, the Diving Medical Doctor encountered a challenging disease, a very strange one called Viral Encephalitis in a Kenyan born British woman who had been referred to the facility. Doctors at the facility went into serious research including seeking opinion from other Hyperbaric Medical Doctors before the correct regime of treatment was applied. Amazingly, the patient responded so well to the treatment that after only two weeks of application her request for discharge was granted.

One thing that stands out clearly about the Navy divers is that they are truly accomplished in this unique profession. They are taking the challenge with pride and are always on alert to move into harms way to accomplish the great tasks in defence of the nation. The Force boasts of a high level of professionalism, and in line with its slogan "action and courage", responds to any challenge by the enemy. Read More

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