By Staff Sgt. Anthony Bryant | 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
KEY WEST, Fla. — One thousand meters from the shore, combat divers with 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), approached the beach beneath undulations of waves. This was only one of several training missions conducted by 10th SFG(A) Green Berets as part of a dive requalification held near Key West, Florida, from April 24, 2022 to May 15, 2022.
A rebreather is used for this mission because the apparatus produces little to no air bubbles — essential in remaining cloaked by the sea. One-by-one, the operators emerge from the water on the insular shelf, careful to not be seen. In tow, a simulated Stinger missile is brought ashore. The air defense system is ready to be deployed.
“We’re training (in Key West) to validate as a dive team at the battalion level,” said a Special Forces team leader with 2nd Bn., 10th SFG(A). “We chose Key West, Florida, because SFUWO (Special Forces Underwater Operations School) is here.”
The Combat Diver Qualification Course, taught at SFUWO, is where Green Berets learn surface and subsurface waterborne infiltration methods.
“There are great opportunities for more advanced dive training at SFUWO,” the team leader said. “We’re incorporating (the Jetboots Diver Propulsion System) on our dives to extend our range. With dive operations, we’re limited to about 2 kilometers of diving. With the Jetboots capability SFUWO provides, we can do (infiltrations) of up to 7 or 8 kilometers.”
To be validated, a dive team must perform six closed-circuit dives using a rebreather, one open-circuit search dive and an Over the Horizon inflatable boat move of at least 15 nautical miles.
“Open-circuit dives are good for anything at depth,” said a Special Forces team sergeant with 2nd Bn., 10th SFG(A). “Any dive over 20 feet, you’re going to do open-circuit because you have the ability to go deeper with that type of system whereas, with closed-circuit dives, you’ll usually stay above 20 feet.”
On the open-circuit dive during the requalification, combat divers descended to a depth of about 100 feet to search the wrecked Cayman Salvage Master, a 187-foot-long minelayer inhabited by several goliath grouper and moray eels.
“Open water (training) is done at requalification locations,” the team sergeant said. “Training in a unique environment that’s a living, breathing ecosystem, where there’s marine life and more chances of things going wrong and being able to go through those emergency procedures is a lot more beneficial than training in the pool.”