Australians in Iraq 2003

RAN clearance divers

RAN clearance divers specialise in clearing sea-mines and other explosive objects in shallow water and coastal areas. Whenever they are deployed overseas in a combat zone, they form a unit called Clearance Diving Team 3, or CDT3. In March and April 1991, in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, CDT3 went into action for the first time since Vietnam. Twenty-three Australian divers cleared several Kuwaiti ports, a naval base, and a number of beaches.

From March to May 2003, 32 divers were deployed to the same region, this time operating in Iraq itself. One of their early tasks was clearing the port of Umm Qasr. Working in muddy water with zero visibility, they located a sunken minelayer with live sea-mines aboard. They also worked on land, checking port buildings for booby-traps and helping British commandos clear unexploded mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades from the town.

Later they moved north to clear another port at Khawr Az Zubayr and, demonstrating their versatility, also conducted mine clearance patrols on the Al Faw peninsula, along the shores of the Khawr ’Abd Allah waterway. Finally, the divers helped clear sea-mines, anti-submarine mortars, and other ordnance from a major storage area attached to the Iraqi navy’s mine warfare school.

P04101.076A mine?
Lewis MillerART92011

P04101.076Mine-clearing: “the divers”
Lewis Miller, Second Gulf War, official war artist ART92007

P04101.076Clearance diver ashore
David Dare Parker, Second Gulf War, official war photographer
Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Paul (“Virg”) Virgin, carrying a Colt CAR4 Carbine. Virgin was a member of the RAN Clearance Diving Team 3 detachment clearing mines and other unexploded ordnance from coastal areas along the Al Faw peninsula in April 2003.P04102.080

P04101.076Clearance divers on the Al Faw peninsula
David Dare Parker, Second Gulf War, official war photographer
Over ten days in April 2003, members of RAN Clearance Diving Team 3 cleared mines and other ordnance from 160 square kilometres of the coastal parts of the peninsula. Petty Officer Clearance Diver Dean (“Jock”) Campbell and Able Seaman Clearance Diver Colin Von Rechenberg walk along a cleared path on the barren Al Faw peninsula in southern Iraq.P04103.096