Recon Marines earn DPD certification

Recon Marines earn DPD certification

by Cpl. Brandon Suhr
Okinawa Marine Staff

MARINE CORPS BASE KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii — Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion are taking part in a certification course Jan. 13 – Feb. 3 at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to allow them to operate diver propulsion devices as part of Exercise Sandfisher 2014. Sandfisher is an annual, bilateral amphibious reconnaissance and combat diving exercise between an international partner nation, this year New Zealand and the U.S. Marine Corps.

The DPD is a battery-powered vehicle capable of carrying two divers and their equipment while submersed out of sight.

“The (DPD) gives the combat divers an amazing benefit over the normal combat diving operational limitations they have,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Donald R. Miner, a medical deep-sea diver and instructor for the course with Headquarters Company, 3rd Recon. Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It can defeat high currents and high tides using its battery. It also gives the divers more relaxation time as they’re not swimming for extended periods. They can go without expending all their energy trying to get to shore.”

The device increases the capabilities of the divers to get in areas they could not possibly get into successfully, such as fast-flowing rivers or other tributaries that come from land-based areas, according to Miner.

“The instructors for the course used a crawl-walk-run mentality when teaching us how to use (the DPD) and how to be able to operate them efficiently and effectively,” said Cpl. Nate Hitchcock, a reconnaissance man with Company B, 3rd Recon. Bn. “With their instructions, it really helped us out not only with using the DPDs but as a dive team in general. We were able to hone-in a lot of the skills that we needed.”

The team is most vulnerable while performing insertions and extractions during missions, according to Hitchcock. The quicker the team can complete both of these, the safer and better off they are and the DPD helps them do just that.

“I was a little skeptical coming into this, and I think my team was as well because we were not familiar with (the DPDs),” said Hitchcock. “Once we got out and used them and just practiced, we didn’t have any issues with them that more practice couldn’t solve.”

The overarching purpose of Exercise Sandfisher is to maintain a high level of interoperability, enhance military-to-military relations with partner nations, such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, and to enhance combat readiness through combined training.

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