What's the toughest job in the Navy

One of the most dangerous jobs in the Bundeswehr

Heinz Schwarz from Hebertsfelden was an instructor for mine divers in the German Navy from 1965 to 1986.

HEBERTSFELDEN Heinz Schwarz from Hebertsfelden knows the requirements and the challenges of one of the toughest jobs there is in the German Armed Forces: From 1965 to 1986, Schwarz was a trainer for mine divers in the German Navy. “Mine divers are highly qualified, well-trained specialists. They are used as divers, fireworkers, drivers and ordnance disposal personnel above and under water, ”says Schwarz.

For Schwarz it is more than understandable that good physical condition, high resilience and great willpower are seen as basic requirements. “People who do not meet these requirements cannot pass this profession.” This is also confirmed by the high “drop-out rates”: 70 percent of course participants do not pass the first five weeks.

According to the former instructor, the physical and psychological resilience of the candidates is determined in the course of the preliminary mine diving training. The aim is then to increase this so that a considered and controlled action is achieved later in stressful situations, which ultimately serves your own safety and that of your colleagues.

It takes around three years to train future boatmen to become specialists in ordnance disposal. The powerboat license is also part of the training. In other courses and depending on the obligation, special courses can also be completed. At the end of a four-month basic training course, you will receive the coveted sawfish badge.

Operations up to a maximum depth of 54 meters can only be achieved with a special diving device. According to Schwarz, this is a closed, electronically controlled and non-magnetic mixed gas circuit diving device. Only small air bubbles penetrate to the outside and the mixing ratio is reduced according to the depth.

When disposing of ordnance, the elite unit has to deal with various types of mines from the last two world wars, which can still be found mainly in the North and Baltic Seas. The mine could never play a decisive role as a weapon at sea in the First and Second World Wars. Nevertheless, the movement of the naval forces was significantly hampered by their use in the world wars.

In the eyes of the military, the use of mines can be justified because they are cheap and easy to manufacture and still pose a great danger to the enemy. The damage caused by a mine explosion is many times higher than the manufacturing costs, apart from human lives.

There are still umpteen different types of mines with different ignition devices that drift about on the world's oceans. The removal of these remains is by no means the only task of the mine diving company founded in 1964. The tasks also include the search and recovery of damaged ships, submarines and crashed aircraft. The dangerous work of locating and retrieving sunk weapons is one of the unit's special tasks.

But there is one thing that Schwarz regrets today: “Unfortunately, there is a lot of worries about young talent for this interesting profession at the moment.” More information on this profession is also available on the Internet at: [email protected] or www.bundeswehr-karriere.de or on the free phone number: 0800-9800880.

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