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Knowledge sharing kicks into high gear
– during Exercise Tradewinds 2012
LOCAL and regional military personnel received informative sessions and hands-on experience from their Canadian counterparts as Exercise Tradewinds 2012 kicked into high gear yesterday morning.
As Chief Petty Officer Andrew Tiffin explained, the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic took the groups through three different syndicates. These included Explosive Ordinates Disposal (EOD), or bomb recognition; diver training and exposing them to advanced underwater technology through the Electronic Diving Services.
“Knowledge is power and any information that you get will make you a better operator at the end. We are working at the tactical level here and that allows all divers the opportunity, especially when conducting joint or combined operations that allow us to work better together,” said the military official.
As it relates to diving the Chief Petty Officer acknowledged that for Barbados and other small island states the possibility of seawater being contaminated cannot be ignored.
“Contaminated water is an issue for any diver going into the water. A small island could have a tanker that could be leaking and you need to get in there and do some form of plugging. So what we do is not so much the testing, but the ability to get the diver into and out of the water safely.”
“Where we come from in Canada, contaminated water was a significant issue for us for some time and so we have a great amount of experience,” he assured.
However, where the diving site may be deemed to be unsafe or too deep, that’s where the Seabotix VLB 950 comes into action and one which Tiffin believes would be a good investment for Barbados.
Petty Officer second class, Yves Bernard explained that the Remotely Operating Vehicle which comes with a price tag of about CAN$270 000 is the future. “It will never replace the diver but it is the tool that you want to have. It is able to do what a diver cannot.”
He said that the compact machine, which can dive up to 3 000 feet, comes with a sonar tracking system, manipulator arm, it’s versatile and user friendly and comes with vector thruster configuration with dual vertical thrusters which allow for better manoeuvrability.
Bernard explained that this machine, depending on the level of visibility of the water, can also transmit clear images and could be particularly useful in anything ranging from a weapon thrown overboard by a criminal element, to a plane crash or a sunken boat.
Yesterday the groups also had an opportunity to try one of the smaller 60 pound bomb suits, and to get a slight feel for the restriction and immense heat which teams are faced with in Afghanistan.
Tiffin explained that EOD personnel are not on hand to diffuse the bomb but assess the Improvised Explosive Device and ensure that the area is secure before a bomb squad arrives.
He described the Coast Guard headquarters, the HMBS Pelican as a “great facility”, one which is safe and allows training in a controlled environment. He explained that it is easier for teams to come to Barbados to undergo training than to send the Barbadian forces to Canada because of the environmental conditions, particularly as it relates to diving. “The water temperature is significantly different and it takes some time for them to adjust to that temperature.
A transnational crime exercise will be held today at the Crane in St. Philip and a ceremony will he held this afternoon at the Coast Guard headquarters to mark the handing over of the finger pier. (JH)