Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) is hosting its 45th annual ROGUISH BUOY exercise across the region, giving local and international combat divers training and networking opportunities.
Members from Canada’s four dive units, based in Edmonton, Alta., Petawawa, Ont., Valcartier, Que. and Gagetown, N.B., have travelled to the Greater Victoria region for a three-week training session and skill re-certification exercises.
“This is the Canadian army’s only diving collective training event that we do annually,” Capt. Alexander Scott, ROGUISH BUOY 2024 coordinator, said.
“It’s essential to bring all of the Canadian army dive teams to one location to share best practices, learn from each other and ensure that our standard operating procedures are standardized across Canada.”
Combat divers are underwater engineers who ensure the military can safely move across enclosed water, like lakes and rivers, and that shore operations run smoothly.
“We also want to put obstacles in the water so we can deny the enemy from coming where we are,” LCol. Cindy Legarie, Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering commandant, said.
Legarie added the teams also assist in recovery missions, like the Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter that crashed into the Ottawa River near Garrison Petawawa in the summer.
The combat dive teams train year-round in freshwater near their base, but on Wednesday, they got the chance to test their skills in the open ocean with exercises aimed at securing a pier in Metchosin.
“We are often diving in just the river, so it gives us the ability to make sure we get all the equipment we need, get all our checks and make sure we can’t just stage out of our own regiment, so it’s like an actual deployment,” MCpl. Russell Ashwood, dive supervisor, said.
The teams tested their navigation swimming skills with a compass to find the pier and worked as a team to ensure its safety and find its weak spots.
“Some are measuring the circumference of the pier legs, some are getting the bottom type to see what kind of a load capacity it has, and others are measuring the distance on the pier,” Ashwood explained.
According to DND, the three-week exercise isn’t just about training Canada’s army but also connecting with international soldiers.
Eighteen participants from six NATO participants, including the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, are learning Canadian procedures and sharing what theirs are from home.
“It’s good to compare our standard operating procedures with theirs and look at how we can improve ourselves versus what they do and vice versa and really merge those things so that we get the best possible training and the best operating procedures,” Ashwood said.
OCdt. Martin Wanuszka, with the German engineer dive platoon, said as NATO, we need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
“That’s why we are here, and hopefully, we’ll make it better,” Wanuszka added.
Training exercises and information sharing will continue across the Greater Victoria region until Feb. 13.