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NEWS | Aug. 13, 2015

Navy EOD divers conduct underwater post-blast training course in Guam

By NSWC Indian Head EOD Technology Division Public Affairs

NAVAL BASE GUAM – Technical Support Detachment (TSD) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel – along with FBI special agent bomb technicians – conducted underwater post-blast investigation training at Naval Base Guam, July 27-31.


The week-long training is based on an FBI course and includes surface and underwater events such as assessing the underwater detonation/blast field, locating, mapping and collecting evidence and surveying the water’s edge, beach and dry land for debris.


“The first day and a half was spent in the classroom where we examined case studies and discussed proper underwater search and recovery techniques,” said TSD Command Master Chief Robert Zimmerman. “Next, the divers practiced making accurate measurements, collecting forensic evidence and documenting blast effects following an explosive incident.”


A ship’s hull with blast damage was constructed for the training to teach EOD technicians and first responders how to investigate an underwater post-blast scene.


“Surface swimmers used buoys to map the blast field so they didn’t need to swim the entire area, just the vicinity of the blast,” said Zimmerman. “Divers went down to search the mapped area systematically. They marked where the evidence was – because that can tell us a lot when we go about putting everything back together – what the evidence was, and where it was retrieved from.”


Upon completion of the dive, technicians examined the evidence for fingerprints and DNA and attempted to reconstruct the explosive device to retrieve technical intelligence, such as its explosive weight, how it fired and how it functioned. The teams also assessed the ship’s hull for damage criteria and weapons effects analysis.


Petty Officer Diver Shaun Heaslip, one of three participating divers from the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Operational Dive Team, said the training was valuable to their team, too, because of their responsibility for maritime EOD and improvised explosive device incidents.  “This course gives us a better understanding in the gathering of forensics, analyzing and investigating scenes to work out charge sizes and potential debris areas. We’re always looking for future opportunities to conduct training and exercises with the U.S. to further our interoperability in the future,” he said.


Zimmerman said the course was developed specifically as pre-deployment training for our TSD divers, but benefits the Navy and Department of Defense as well. “In the end, if the Joint EOD Force at large is better at collecting and preserving evidence, it’s easier to identify the enemy and attack the network,” he said.


Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division’s (NSWC IHEODTD) TSD is located in Indian Head, Md., and is a deployable military unit comprised of senior- and master-level EOD technicians who provide weapons analysis, technical intelligence and foreign material acquisition support to operational commanders, EOD forces and national intelligence activities.