8/19/2011 By Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud, Marine Corps Bases Japan
CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan — Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion executed a series of submerged movements off the beaches of Camp Schwab using diver propulsion devices Aug. 9.
The DPD is a battery-powered vehicle capable of carrying two divers and their gear while submersed out of sight.
“The (DPD) is the Marine Reconnaissance’s miniature submarine, if you will,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Donald R. Miner, medical deep sea diver, 3rd Recon. Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It allows them to transit long distances using minimal amounts of energy and O2 on their diving rigs.”
According to Miner, the training consisted of a series of submerged movements between checkpoints marked by large buoys, designed to improve the divers’ underwater navigation skills as well as familiarize them with the DPD.
The Marines first had to complete dive training to be eligible for the follow-up DPD training.
“They qualify Marine combat divers at dive school and come out here, and we sustain them and grow them as diving supervisors and DPD pilots,” said Miner.
“The course is roughly seven days long start to finish and includes night dives. Once they are qualified on the DPD, they will get together as platoons and do sustainment training, which would basically be a navigation dive like this or a (simulated mission),” Miner added.
During combat operations, the Marines use the device for covert insertions onto beaches and shorelines.
“They would be able to take the DPDs and insert into a hostile environment quietly and covertly … do reconnaissance on an enemy position or even potentially attack the enemy,” said Miner.
The device allows Marines to conserve their energy during tactical operations as DPDs do the work of propelling them and their gear ashore, said Petty Officer 1st Class, Gregory S. Early, Navy diver, 3rd Recon Bn.
Marines are trained to cache the device out of sight once they have reached their objective and return to the device after actions-on-objectives for extraction, said Miner.
“It is designed to be cached and stowed underwater, or it can be carried and buried on the beach if they want to,” said Miner.
Due to the size of the DPD, it is easily deployable from a broad range of platforms, said Early.
The DPD demonstrated this flexibility during the training evolution when it was deployed from a combat rubber raiding craft.
The Marines will continue training with the DPD here and abroad.
“We will be going (abroad) in January and doing this course again with (a partner) combat-diver unit,” said Early. “At that point, we will work together with (our partners). They will insert into shore, stow the DPD, go over the beach, recon a target, take pictures of it and return.”
The end goal is to ensure Marines can proficentley use the DPD.
“We train them and get them qualified to perform these jobs without us, so they can go execute missions (independently),” said Early.
The DPD provides the Marines with another tool for covert insertions, helping them execute their reconnaissance mission.
“It is a very small portion of what the Marines do as a whole, but this type of capability is what keeps the enemy at bay,” said Miner.