Navy clearance diving team 3 receives US commendation
28 June 2018
Members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Clearance Diving Team 3 today received the United States (US) Unit Commendation for service in the 1991 Gulf War.
In 1992, the Acting Secretary of the US Navy awarded a US Unit Commendation to units involved in the 1991 multinational Desert Storm Task Group.
Australian guidelines at the time prevented Clearance Diving Team 3 personnel from accepting the US award. Following later revision of the guidelines, the US has been progressively reviewing records to ensure all entitled personnel receive their awards.
In a ceremony at the Australian Defence Force Dive School at HMAS Penguin,Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead presented the commendation ribbons to members who deployed to the Middle East in support of Operations Damask and Desert Storm from 27 January to 9 May 1991.
Rear Admiral Mead said the award of the US Unit Commendation was a reminder of the significant achievement of Clearance Diving Team 3 during the First Gulf War.
“Under the command of Lieutenant Commander John Griffith, the team of 23 Navy Clearance Divers was initially involved in the preparations for a possible amphibious assault of Iraqi-occupied Kuwait,” Rear Admiral Mead said.
“As the requirement for an amphibious operation receded the team’s primary mission became the explosive ordnance clearance of Kuwaiti ports in support of the US Navy’s coastal warfare and port recovery operations.”
Former Executive Officer of Clearance Diving Team 3 and current Head of Clearance Diving, Captain Stephen O’Brien, said the commendation was welcome recognition for a deployment that was both challenging and rewarding.
“In 1991, we deployed in 48 hours after receiving the order, with 50 tonnes of equipment and explosives and immediately set to work,” Captain O’Brien said.
“Our work was performed in difficult and complex conditions as we dealt with numerous mines and cleared a significant amount of ordnance.
“We are honoured to be recognised for our efforts and proud that our experience from the First Gulf War has helped Navy in later deployments, informing the way we operate today.”
Imagery of the presentation ceremony will be available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20182322.