Op PLONGEUR GIVRÉ – Tests CF Combat Divers in Sub-Arctic Conditions

8 03 2011

Thetford Mines, Quebec — Seven combat divers from 5 Combat Engineer Regiment (5 CER) braved frigid temperatures to dive into Flintkote Quarry on 24 and 26 January. For six of them, this was their first ice diving experience.

Located a few kilometres from Thetford Mines, the turquoise waters of the Flintkote Quarry are well known for their transparency. The bottom of the quarry, shaped like a stairway, extends down more than 80 metres.

“Operation PLONGEUR GIVRÉ is a training dive, aimed particularly at new divers who’ve just qualified,” explained the exercise supervisor, Captain Michel Carrier of 5 Area Support Group. “Our guys must be capable of performing the tasks and have to know the procedures, and the finer points of ice diving.”

A triangular opening roughly three metres wide was cut in the 30-cm thick ice with power saws. Surface snow was cleared to form a giant wheel with the spokes centred on the hole to allow the divers to locate the exit under the ice.

“We have a big team that takes care of us and lot of other support. We don’t just jump directly into the water, there’s a lot of preparations when you do ice diving,” noted Corporal Pascal Labbé, combat diver with 5 CER. “You have to pay attention to your buoyancy; you can’t come to the surface just anywhere because of the ice and you might hit your head. So you have to know where you are under the ice and follow the line to come back to the surface through the hole.”

The divers loved their experience at Flintkote Quarry and appreciated the beauty of the surroundings. Despite the biting cold, their ice diving exercise was a success.

Article and photos by MCpl Simon Duchesne, Army News, Valcartier

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