There are roughly 80 serving Clearance Divers in the Royal Navy just now. Why? Because - serving in this unit is not for the faint-hearted.
Clearance Diving takes its name from operations carried out towards the end of WWII. The ports and harbours of Mediterranean and Nothern Europe, saw unexploded bombs and booby traps laid by Germans and their allies.
There was a need for an elite team to find these devices and detonate them in the safest way possible. The work was undertaken by Royal Navy Rendering Mines Safe (RMS) and Bomb Disposal Units, later the work was undertaken by Port Clearance Parties or ‘P’ Parties.
Members of these groups were among the most highly decorated of the war.
70 Years of Clearance Diving
1952 was when this elite unit was formally recognised. Taking the skills and experience of wartime divers, this unit learned first hand of the arduous tasks undertaken to make the seas safe.
During the 1980s Clearance Divers could be found in the waters around Argentina; and in more recent times they have been in the Gulf of Oman, Persia, Kuwait and the waterways and ports of Iraq, clearing hundreds upon hundreds of mines; as well as supporting other military efforts.
This specialist naval unit can be found anywhere in the world - detonating bombs on sunken warships, supporting rescue missions and a whole host of other duties that literally go under the radar. Perhaps uniquely, the hazardous daily duties carried out by this elite unit are the same in wartime as peacetime.
A shared love of diving, the outdoors, keeping fit and a military background brought the founders together to create Hold Fast.
The average body is 60% water, in the case of Rob, this is unsubstantiated - as he has been swimming competitively since age 4.
On a rugby trip to South Africa, he found his love of diving and started his diving career there in 1999.
Always one for a challenge, Rob entered the Royal Navy as a direct entry Clearance Diver candidate. Of the 29 candidates only 3 passed, Rob being one of them, thankfully.
Rob then went on to have a successful career, carrying out mine clearance and bomb disposal on sea and land. Serving in: Fleet Diving Unit 2, HMS Inverness and Northern Diving Group.
After the Royal Navy, Rob dived commercially for 14 years working in oil & gas all over the world.
Along with being a founder of Hold Fast, Rob is an assistant instructor for military rebreather courses - working across the continents.
Apparently, Rob has a sense of humour!
Graeme is a self-confessed Aquaman, half-man, half-fish - thanks in part to being truly amphibious for around 21 years.
His love of diving started aged 12, whilst scuba diving with his father. This then led to a career in the Royal Navy as a Clearance Diver, where he served for 10 years. Graeme served on mine hunters and bomb disposal teams. Serving in: Defense Diving School, Northern Diving Group, HMS Quorn, HMS Inverness and HMS Brocklesby
Following a successful career as a Clearance Diver, Graeme headed to Nigeria via the North Sea to work. From scuba to saturation diving, to subsea engineering, Graeme is a very experienced diver/fish.
It is believed that Graeme has a sense of humour.
TRAIN LIKE A CLEARANCE DIVER
The only way to prepare is to train hard and train well, and that is what the Hold Fast team wants to share - a military training challenge like no other.