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Training and Education

Want to Become a Navy Diver?

Careers begin at CEODD Great Lakes

For incoming Sailors who have aspirations of becoming a Navy Diver (ND), Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) or Diving Medical Technician (DMT), their rigorous journey begins at Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving (CEODD) Learning Site, Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes center was created in 2006 to prepare Sailors in the EOD and ND ratings for training. Prior to 2006, students went directly from boot camp to Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC), however, because of the high attrition rate of 40-50 percent, part of the curriculum was moved to Great Lakes to help alleviate the number of students who were dropping out and having to reclassify, thus, saving the Navy time and expense.

"Students used to check into dive school and within the first two days they were doing their physical skills test (PST) and their AA's," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (DSW/SW) James R. Butts, assistant officer in charge, CEODD. "If they didn't pass in six attempts, they were gone. The students now get two attempts to pass their PST and 12 attempts to pass their AA's.

While the additional attempts may seem to be beneficial to the students, many continue to struggle with the course requirements especially those who had a misconceived idea of what being a ND, EOD or DMT actually entails.

"The big misconception students have is they think they are coming here to be SEALs (Sea, Air, Land). We're two separate things completely. Recruiters tend to lump special operations jobs together and that's fine for recruiting but the mission sets are completely separate," said Chief Navy Diver (DSW/AW/PJ) Jamie Fricton, leading chief petty officer. "Many will get here and think they'll be Special Warfare operators and that's not the truth."

Butts adds that many students believe they're going to suit up to perform the same mission skill sets that are required of the SEALs and are very surprised when they discover what the job really entails.

"We're divers, not direct assault assets. We walk the bottom of the ocean in zero visibility and try to find things that most people don't want to find or do work that is very strenuous and laborious. It's not glamorous - it's tough, it's challenging and it's exciting," said Butts.
Navy Photo

Sailors perform flutter kicks on the side of the pool at Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving (CEODD) Learning Site, Great Lakes.

For Navy Diver Seaman Apprentice Joseph Lickteig, of Boerne, Texas, being an ND was not his first choice when deciding to join the Navy. He originally wanted to be gunner's mate but was recommended for special programs by his recruiter. Initially, his PST scores were not up to par, but after getting into better shape and improving his scores, he eventually was picked up for ND.

"I was ecstatic and there was no way I could even try to hide my excitement," said Lickteig. "I also did more research to see what exactly divers do, and for me it's a great fit because I grew up around water and have spent a lot of time in the water."

To help recruiters and those considering becoming divers better understand the job, CEODD is in the process of creating a video that will detail the physical requirements of the jobs as well as specifically what the job is really about.

"A lot of people get put into the programs that are not really sure what it is and when they get here, they find out it's not for them," explained Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EWS) Paul Canen, officer in charge, CEODD. "The students may research what the job will entail but when they get here and realize the physical part that is required of them, they drop out. That's where we got a lot of motivation drops, the 'I did not understand the program', or 'It's not what I want to do.'"

Canen explains that one of the hardest things to teach some of candidates is comfort in the water.

"Being able to do the task you're having to do even though everything is happening around you in the water and you're gasping for breath and you're having to kick and still being able to work - it's hard to teach that and it's really hard to test for that before you get someplace like here," said Canen.

For Sailors such as Lickteig, successfully completing the program at Great Lakes gives them the skills and confidence to also be successful as they continue on to NDSTC.

"The instructors here are top notch. After here, you never know when you might run into them in the Fleet and go diving with them," said Lickteig. "It's actually a great feeling knowing I could go diving with any of the instructors here and knowing that they trained here, I'd be pretty confident in what I'm doing. It's been an all-round great experience to go through and I wouldn't trade this for the world at this point."

For more information about the Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving, visit the CEODD website:

Additional information on the Naval Education and Training Command can be found at the NETC website:
Navy Photo

Sailors prepare to enter the water at Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving (CEODD) Learning Site, Great Lakes.