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Monday, April 11, 2005

Worried About Enemy SCUBA Divers?

Don’t be. Every six months for the last few years a story comes out about AQ “frogmen” planning to conduct submerged demolition attacks on US warships, ports, and maritime facilities. They envision the climactic scene from the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball where the evil forces of SPECTRE attempt nuclear holocaust only to be foiled by 007 and what I suppose had to be SEALs in a pitched underwater battle between opposing divers. While combat swimmer operations can have an important role in a conflict between nations with significant naval forces, it is not a tactic that lends itself to terrorism.

First of all, clandestine underwater navigation is not easy. In fact, an argument can be made that ship attacks are the most technically challenging SEAL mission in our repertoire. The diving equipment is highly specialized and takes significant amounts of training to operate effectively and safely. Even with the proper equipment and training, a combat swimmer is limited by not only hard limits on dive time, but “soft” limits on the diver’s physiology and stamina. These limits could be extended if the dive was planned as a “one way trip” as is the custom of our islamofascist enemies, but finding and training people with the physical and mental abilities to carry out such a difficult attack is made terribly difficult when they are also expected to be martyrs. The longer the dive, the larger the navigational error box each “leg” of the infiltration becomes, making it harder to find the target vessel on the dive plan. When this happens, the diver’s only option is to “peek” and visually acquire the target exposing him to compromise.

Then there’s the fact that the amount of demolition that a diver can carry is obviously subject to extreme limitations. The demolition charges used by SEALs to attack enemy vessels are highly complex and must be manufactured by contractors with decades of experience and research time. You can’t just wad up a ball of C-4, slap it on the hull of the vessel, and light some time fuse with a flare underwater. Splashproof firing assemblies can be improvised, but not with the level of certainty needed for a ship attack. There are attachment issues to consider as well as anti-removal devices that must be addressed. Fully loaded out with state of the art anti-ship limpet mines, a SEAL Platoon can only hope to disable a few ships on outer moorings thus preventing an enemy fleet from leaving port for a few days to a week. Of course submersible vehicles are capable of much more, but then you’re talking about even more training, equipment, and complexity.

Finally, the REASON AQ divers would never have the sack to enter any major US port, or come near US vessels in the Persian Gulf. Scroll down to the Mk 6 dolphin program which is managed by Navy EOD. Mk 6 dolphins are a diver’s worst nightmare, and that is no understatement. These marine mammals are trained to find and attack divers that are operating in the patrol area. Imagine swimming around a US warship laden with explosives at night with ill intentions on your mind, and suddenly a 500 lb. dolphin rams into your side at full speed out of nowhere. Of course this dolphin has a nose cone attached to a .45 caliber contact initiated round for good measure. Or how about a needle connected to a CO2 cartridge that injects the diver with gas forcing him to rapidly surface? Essentially the dolphin will continue to ram the diver until he surfaces… dead or alive. At which point, the guy will either have had a stroke or heart attack, certainly several broken bones, and perhaps even be shot from the pier. These things are for real, and they don’t dick around.

After considering the cost, most terrorists would rather go with the old car bomb standby or the spray and pray at a crowded shopping mall routine. To add insult to injury, dolphins are very, shall I say, sexually aggressive by nature. Mk 6 dolphins don’t generally contain their appetites to their own species either. I’m not sure how that could be explained to Allah in the afterlife.