UK — Army divers in Helmand River night mission

British Army divers have con­duct­ed a night-time div­ing oper­a­tion in the Hel­mand Riv­er in Afghanistan in order to help with the devel­op­ment of irri­ga­tion and agri­cul­ture in the region.

A Roy­al Engi­neers div­er, seen through night-vision equip­ment, dur­ing the dive [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Sap­pers from the Roy­al Engi­neers deployed on the com­plex oper­a­tion under the cov­er of dark­ness, with pro­tec­tion pro­vid­ed by the Afghan Uni­form Police. 

Sol­diers from 35 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment planned and con­duct­ed the nine-hour oper­a­tion, which involved ten divers, to mea­sure how much water was flow­ing along the riv­er to help Afghan author­i­ties plan future irri­ga­tion projects. 

The first phase was to look at the pro­file of the riv­er bed, and was head­ed up by Cap­tain Antho­ny Gleave, who explained: 

“The over­all aim of the dive was to pro­vide the abil­i­ty to know how much water is flow­ing down the Hel­mand Riv­er. This will help towards plan­ning for future irri­ga­tion works.” 

The operation’s sec­ond phase was to install a water-flow mon­i­tor on the riv­er bed, along with pro­tec­tive pip­ing. The team were giv­en very spe­cif­ic direc­tion which meant they had a tough chal­lenge ahead of them. 

Phase two was led by Staff Sergeant John Sparham, who said: 

“We had quite a few specifics which had to be met in order for the water-flow mon­i­tor to be able to do its job. It had to be half-a-metre off the riv­er bed, be at least two metres below the sur­face of the water, and it had to face upstream. All of these fac­tors were tough to meet giv­en the fast-flow­ing, extreme­ly cold water.” 

One mem­ber of the team of four con­duct­ing the sec­ond half of the oper­a­tion was Sap­per Joseph Lovell. He said: 

“This is my first time in Afghanistan and my first time on an oper­a­tional dive. To be hon­est it is unex­pect­ed because dive tasks do not come up very often. Lots of divers come to Afghanistan and do not get to dive. 

“The water was flow­ing very fast and was freez­ing. It was dark, late at night, and we knew we had to work as fast as pos­si­ble. Luck­i­ly my train­ing kicked in and I knew what I had to do.” 

35 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment, based in Pader­born, Ger­many, has deployed as part of 20 Armoured Brigade on Oper­a­tion HERRICK 15, and will return to Pader­born in April. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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