Special Operations Diver Badges: What You Should Know

No matter what you may have been led to believe, going deep beneath the ocean’s surface is not just for Navy personnel. There are many in the United States Army who dive on a regular basis….they have badges to prove it.

In today’s post, I am going to educate you on Army Special Operations Diver Badges: what you should know about them. I am honorably discharged from the United States Army, but I did not earn any of these badges.

The information I am giving you has been discovered through research and study. If you find any discrepancies, please leave a comment and set me straight.

United States Army Diving Badges

Before we delve into the Special Operations Diver Badges, I want to enlighten you to the diver badges the Army issues other than Special Ops. There are 4 diver badges that can be attained. They are:

  1. Salvage Diver

  2. Second Class Diver

  3. First Class Diver

  4. Master Diver

If you love water and you love the Army, you do not have to go to the Navy to get a diving job. The 12D MOS is for divers.

special operations diver badges

Special Operations Diver Badges

Special Operations in the United States Army can entail circumstances that call for a diversity of talents. You may need to free-fall from a plane and open your parachute close to the ground, but that ground may be the ocean, and you need to get to a submarine below the surface.

Only the elite special operations soldiers who have diver badges will be able to complete this mission. There are 2 diver badges an Army Special Ops soldier can earn. They are:

  1. Special Operations Diver

  2. Special Operations Dive Supervisor

The designs of these badges are quite similar, with the Supervisor badge having a star in the middle of it. The design is a stealth diving helmet surrounded by two sharks. Behind are two Fairbairn-Sykes daggers (World War II fighting knives) in the saltire cross fashion.

Earning Your Badge

To be blunt, this course does not have room for any weakness. When the Army says GO STRONG, they sure mean it when it comes to the diving courses.

Before a soldier will even go to the primary course, the Army has found that “weeding out” possible drop outs was wise. For two to three weeks, the soldier will be involved in a pre-scuba course which tests the soldier and builds them in strength and endurance.

In a simple swimming pool, you will swim for long distances, practice water confidence drills, and other drills you will need to be able to endure the main course.

If you pass this testing you will then be on your way to Fleming Key and The Key West Naval Air Station for the CDQC (Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course).

When reaching this place, you may suddenly think you were sent to hell, but no, you are in the Florida Keys for six weeks of intensive combat dive training. Some of what you will face at CDQC is:

  • Intensive exercise programs every morning

  • Classroom instruction that will show you subjects such as: diving tables, marine life dangers, repairing regulators, currents & tides, chamber pressure testing, CPR, and much more. Note taking is a must, as you will be tested.

  • Start in pool with tying knots underwater, dive procedures and inspection, ditching equipment, and more.

  • Maritime duties and operations. You will learn about bundle rigging, submarine lock-ins and lock-outs, recovery operations, ship bottom searches, infiltration, deep diving, and more.

  • Open ocean swims. You will swim for long distances in the ocean both on top and timed sub-surface swims.

  • Closed circuit swims using a re-breather rigging.

This is just a partial look at what you will endure. On the last days of the course, you will conclude with a Field Training Exercise and an end examination.

If you pass all of these requirements, you will be presented with your Special Operations Diver Badge.

Special Operations Dive Supervisor

As a supervisor, your job will be in planning, coordinating and supervising Special Operation’s dives. There is a three week long course for this badge. The subject matter goes deeper into subjects you learned in the basic course.

The primary goal is to have the supervisor familiar with any and all types of diving equipment. They must also understand diving physics, and subjects like tides and currents at an expert level.

It is believed that those seeking the supervisor badge will also have to wear twin air tanks and parachute from a plane with other assorted equipment into a shark DZ. Do you have the guts?

Final Thoughts

No, diving isn’t just a Navy adventure. The Army offers this adventure too, and you can jump from a plane to do it!

If you have your Special Operations Diver Badge, we would like to hear from you. Tell us more, please!  What was the experience like? What tips can you share for someone thinking about attending this course? Just leave a comment below to do so.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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4 thoughts on “Special Operations Diver Badges: What You Should Know”

  1. Spent 9 months as the enlisted supervisor of dive operations for 1st Recon. Dives from Alaska to Mexico to Hawaii. Responsible for all gear for 72 divers, 4 compressors, planning and coordination of training to maintain fitness and proficiency in the areas of 1200 yd. compass night swims, hydrographic surveys, deep dives, and submarine lockouts. Educated as diving med tech as well as attended Mfg. equipment maintenance schools.

  2. The Special Operations Combat Diver’s Badge (which I earned) truly was the hardest badge to earn. In the Army’s tier of badges, this badge is in the lowest tier, Group 5, along with driver and mechanics badges. The Combat Infantrymans Badge is Group 1 and Parachutist Wings are only Group 4. Google: “Army badges order.”

  3. This may a shorter post of yours, but it stills packs a punch! Lots of great facts and info. Maybe not the most necessary for someone like me to know, but who knows? It may become useful. Thanks!

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