Although diving in the RAN dates back to the 1920s when personnel were trained in the use of ‘standard’ diving equipment, the concept of a separate and dedicated diving branch of the Navy evolved slowly.
The Clearance Diving Branch of the Royal Australian Navy was formed in 1951 with the primary role of “location. identification and disposal of Mines underwater”. It’s secondary role included “underwater maintenance, training of the Fleet in ship defence against saboteurs, beach reconnaissance and minor salvage”.
Although Explosive Ordnance Disposal remained a primary function it soon became apparent that Navy divers were suited to an ever expanding variety of tasks.
The Clearance Diving Branch has continued to evolve. In 1966 the RAN introduced the concept of the Australian Clearance Diving Teams. In that same year AUSCDT 3 was formed and trained in all aspects of EOD (Explosive Ordnance Demolition), small arms and jungle survival before going to Vietnam where they served with distinction.