An underwater combat training school in Key West is marking its 50th anniversary.
The Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School boasts a $10 million complex with a modern training pool and 50-foot dive tower, as well as boats especially designed for special operations forces.
The school is taught by Green Berets and sometimes hosts students from the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines, as well as military academy cadets and troops from other countries.
Residents know students are in town by spotting the circling C-130 airplane dropping finned-divers by parachute into the Fleming Key Basin. Less visible are the night operations, the torturous pool training, the hours of classroom work and other tasks that make the school one of the toughest gut-checks in the military, instructors and command staff said.
“Combat divers are very aggressive and efficient and I’ve been very impressed,” said Army Special Forces Col. Alan Shumate. “They stand out. Our dive school breeds a more intense commando.”
Shumate is a graduate and his father, Special Forces Sgt. Maj. Walter Shumate, helped scout the area on Fleming Key for the dive school.
The dive school’s history is enmeshed in the Navy’s history in Key West.
The Naval School of Underwater Swimmers operated from 1954 to 1974. By 1961, Green Berets who had been training at the Navy swimmers’ school set up their own course for instructors, and that led to a cross-training program with the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams, the precursor to the SEAL teams.
Three years later, then-Capt. Ola Mize was tasked with spearheading the Army’s own underwater operations course. Mize, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Korean War, tasked Walter Shumate and others to find a suitable location in Key West for the Army’s own school.
The Army permanently assigned training cadre in Key West in 1974, and the school as it is today began to take shape. By 1989, the unit in Key West officially became what it is today: C Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne).
About one in three students fails the course.
“When you’re going through the Special Forces qualification selection or Ranger School and you get tired, you can stop and take a knee,” school commander Maj. Samuel Kline said. “In the water, you can’t do that. You still have to perform and you have to perform under duress competently, because your life is directly at risk.”
Kline added, “We don’t look to weed out candidates. We’re dedicated to producing quality combat divers. The majority who don’t make it through, I believe, come ill-prepared mentally and physically for what we do here.”
SCUBAPRO Free Octopus Promotion 2023
Free Octopus with every purchase of a SCUBAPRO regulator system
Just in time for the festive season, divers can save money again with the FREE OCTOPUS winter promotion! Until December 31st SCUBAPRO offers one of the two new Octopus models S270 or R105 for free with every purchase of a regulator system!
The S270 OCTOPUS is free with purchase of a MK25 EVO/D420 or MK19 EVO/D420, MK25 EVO/S620Ti or MK19 EVO/ S620Ti in INT or DIN versions. A R105 OCTOPUS is free with purchase of a MK25 EVO/S600 or MK17 EVO/S600, or MK25 EVO/G260 or MK19 EVO/G260 or MK19 EVO BT or MK25 EVO BT/ G260 CARBON BT in INT or DIN versions.
SCUBAPRO offers a 30-year first owner warranty on all regulators, with a revision period of two years or 100 dives. All SCUBAPRO regulators are of course certified according to the new European test standard EN250-2014.
Available at participating SCUBAPRO dealers. Promotion may not be available in all regions.
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More information available here: SCUBAPRO Free Octopus Promotion 2023
Indo siren destroyed by fire
Indo Siren, a vessel from the Master Liveaboards Fleet, has been destroyed by a fire this morning. Thankfully, all guests and crew members are safe.
Master Liveaboards have released the following statement:
During our current cruise in Raja Ampat, on the morning of 30th November, a fire broke
out on Indo Siren. At the current time we are still assessing the events around the incident,
and will be working with authorities, so cannot currently comment further.
All guests and staff departed the boat, without further incident. They are now with our
ground crew who have organised accommodations while we assist with all their other
needs going forwards.
We are currently evaluating the issues created by the fire on upcoming trips. Guests who
are likely to be affected by enforced cancellations or changes will be contacted in due time
when plans are finalised.
We are incredibly grateful that this incident was not more serious and that everyone who
was onboard, both crew and guests, are safe and well.
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