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Canada Testing Deep Anti-Mine Diving Devices (Sept. 8)



HALIFAX---Members of the Navy's Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), or FDU(A), will probe the depths of the Caribbean Sea during an Allied deep Mine-countermeasures (MCM) diving exercise in Curacao, Dutch Antilles, September 4 -15, 2000.

The exercise, hosted by the Belgian and Dutch armies, will allow the Canadian team, the host countries, and divers from Norway to further develop common procedures for using the Canadian Underwater Mine Countermeasures Apparatus (CUMA). Divers from Sweden and Finland will participate as observers.

This Canadian-designed equipment, in use by several NATO, allows divers to operate to a maximum depth of 270 ft. Using a device which adapts to the depth of water, CUMA provides optimal gas mixture at any depth, is non-magnetic, acoustically quiet, and is a "closed circuit" (few bubbles are produced).

CUMA is used mainly for mine countermeasures, in which divers locate and defuse or destroy anti-ship mines, and is useful when Canadian ships work in potentially hostile regions where mines may be deployed. Mines were a constant concern when Canadian naval vessels deployed to the Persian Gulf War, and to the Adriatic Sea off the former Yugoslavia.

Previous combined exercises have identified a number of key changes in emergency drills based on experiences from other NATO participants thereby streamlining Canadian procedures. In this exercise, eight east-coast clearance divers will don extra thin wetsuits to combat the warmer than normal temperatures as they dive to depths of 80 meters.

Canadian standards require normal attire at these depths to be much thicker, fleece-lined drysuits. Location of this year's exercise was selected in order to develop warm-water deep MCM techniques. No nation has deployed CUMA in a warm water diving environment, this will provide the opportunity to test a number of theories that have been developed but not yet validated.

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Fleet Diving Unit to Participate inDeep Mine Countermeasures Diving Exercise