New Diving and Maritime Operations building open

Date: 1/2/2007

On 13 December 2006 the Royal New Zealand Navy officially opened the new head quarters for its Operational Diving Team, Diving School and the Maritime Operations Evaluation Team at the Devonport Naval Base Auckland. The building was officially opened by Commander William James Lanyon Smith, DSO, OBE, RNZN (Retired). The Building is named in his honour, the ‘Commander William Smith Building’.

Commander Smith was the First Lieutenant (second in command) of the midget submarine XE3 which made a successful attack on the Japanese heavy cruiser


in Johor Straits Singapore, on 31 July 1945.

Warrant Officer diver Heath Cairns, the Navy’s Diving Training Officer, commented that the Operational Diving Team and Diving School were delighted to be in their new premises. They now have ‘space’ to store their equipment, vehicles and inflatables all under one roof; making their response time to a ‘situation’ so much more efficient and faster. The Diving School usually runs three, four week long Defence Diver Courses throughout the year. This basic course trains divers to work on it’s ships hulls and support Shore Establishments. The New Zealand Police, Army and Customs also send candidates to the course ensuring high quality training, internationally certified diving skills are taught to other New Zealand Government agencies. All RNZN diving courses entitle successful students to ADAS and Department of Labour commercial diving qualifications or NZQA unit standards.

To become part of the Navy’s elite Operational Diving Team suitable candidates must first complete the Defence Diver Course then later undergo the 19 week Diver Transfer Course. The Diver Transfer Course is particularly challenging and requires very high levels of both mental and physical fitness plus a solid personal commitment to complete the course. The success rate is around 50%.

The Operational Diving Team usually consists of about 19 Operational Divers but has the facility to increase it’s number to about 35 personnel. Once you make it through the course you have an exciting career to look forward to. You will use military rebreathers, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), military and civilian explosives, learn military and home-made bomb disposal techniques plus the opportunity of working with Air Force, Army, Police and Customs. You will also have operational exercises with overseas navies as New Zealand is part of: – The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) whose members are: New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK. – The Western Pacific Navy Symposium (WPNS), having around 21 different international members allows travel opportunities to such countries as, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia and Japan.

Interested in becoming a Navy Operational Diver?  Visit

and click on Navy Careers or see inside back cover.

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