United States Navy diver

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Navy Diver
Issued by: United States Navy
Type Enlisted/officer rating
Abbreviation ND
Specialty Hull

A United States Navy diver or (within the US Navy) navy diver refers to a member of the community of unrestricted line officer (URL officers), Medical Corps officers and enlisted personnel in the United States Navy who are qualified in underwater open/closed circuit breathing apparatus, deep sea type diving apparatus and saturation diving. Personnel in the navy diver (ND rating) are part of the Navy Special Operations (NSO) community. Navy divers serve at several diving platform types including; Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), Navy Special Operations/Special Warfare commands, Marine Corps dive teams, rescue/salvage and repair diving detachments, saturation diving commands and diving research/development to name a few. Some of the mission areas of the navy diver include; deep sea underwater salvage, harbor clearance operations, in-water ship/submarine repair, demolition operations, submarine rescue, SEAL Delivery Vehicle deployment/recovery, saturation diving, experimental diving, underwater construction/welding as well as serving as diving technical experts at SEAL/Marine Corps/and United States Navy EOD diving commands. In 2006, the U.S. Navy established a new navy diver rating. Navy divers are the foremost experts in all types of diving operations in the U.S. military and serve as the single resource managers for diving technical knowledge and training across the entire Department of Defense.

Training and ratings

Navy divers are trained at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, Florida. Initial training is an arduous 8-10 month process from when someone enters “boot camp” until they are rated as a navy diver. Although rated as an ND, navy divers are not authorized to wear the second class dive pin until they qualify as diving and salvage warfare specialist (DSWS) at their first assignment—this normally takes an additional 1–2 years.

The navy diver works in extreme conditions, performing various underwater tasks ranging from underwater ship repair, underwater salvage and special operations/special warfare type diving. Because their area of operations are so varied, they can be required to utilize any type of diving equipment for use in any depth or temperature in any part of the world. Certain diving qualification allows NDs to live and work at extreme depths for days or weeks at a time, a discipline known as saturation diving.

Personnel that graduate from second class or first class dive school; and ultimately master diver comprise the rating navy diver. NDs are the in-water operators and supervisors for the various mission areas mentioned previously as their primary day to day mission is that of in-water operator and/or supervisor. There is also the diving officer designation/badge for commissioned officers. There are three enlisted diving badges/qualifications in the ND rating:

  • Second class diver – E-4 to E-5 personnel. This is the basic diving qualification in the ND rating awarded upon completion of ND ‘A’ School (pin awarded upon warfare qualification). Primary duties are to serve as in-water operators during various missions.
  • First class diver – E-6 to E-8 personnel. Advanced diving qualification awarded upon completion of ND ‘C’ School. In addition to duties as a second class diver, first class divers serve as diving and chamber treatment supervisors.
  • Master diver – The highest enlisted diving position in the Navy. Awarded upon successful completion of the master diver course which includes exceptionally demanding diving operational problems and acceptance by a master diver board. Oversees diving operations and train/qualify diving supervisors.

Personnel in the Seabee ratings can qualify as underwater construction technician (UCT). Like navy divers, UCT operators are primary in-water operators that conduct underwater construction. They also have three qualification levels with similarities to those in the navy diver rating.

Navy hospital corpsmen can qualify as a diving medical technician (DMT), where they are given training in medical aspects of diving. Primary responsibilities are to provide medical advice and treatment to diving personnel. They also instruct members of the diving team in first aid procedures when the presence of diving medical personnel is indicated.

Additionally, there is a SCUBA diver qualification primarily for those stationed on submarines to serve as sub divers in a limited capacity. Navy SCUBA Divers are also trained at NDSTC at a 5 week course. Their duties consist primarily of conducting occasional inspections on the submarine they are stationed on. SCUBA divers maintain their Navy rating such as ET or MM as their diving NEC is a collateral duty not their primary one.

U.S. navy diver physical fitness test

Diving medical personnel evaluate the fitness of divers before operations begin and are prepared to handle any emergencies which might arise. They also observe the condition of other support personnel and are alert for signs of fatigue, overexposure, and heat exhaustion. The physical fitness test has been shown to be a poor predictor of job task performance.[1]

The test consists of the following carried out in the order given:

  1. Swim 500 yards (457 m)utilizing only combat side stroke or breast stroke within 14 minutes (candidates are allowed to push off the sides when turning. However, if the candidate touches the ground, they will fail the test).
  2. 10 minute rest period.
  3. Perform 50 push-ups within 2 minutes (chest must touch the floor and arms locked out at the top of the rep).
  4. 2 minute rest period.
  5. Perform 50 sit-ups within 2 minutes (candidates hands must stay on the collarbone and the elbows must touch the knees).
  6. 2 minute rest period.
  7. Perform 6 pull-ups (no kipping or swinging is allowed and the chin must clear the top of the bar on each repetition).
  8. 10 minute rest period.
  9. Run 1.5 miles (2.414 km) within 12 minutes 30 seconds.

Note: The times and quantities listed are for passing the screening test only. Each candidate’s scores are submitted and the candidates with the top scores along with ASVAB exam scores will be selected and given a navy diver contract. Passing the physical fitness test is necessary but by no means guarantees the candidate a contract.

Health impact

A study published in 2011 by the United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit reviewed the long term health impact on the US Navy diving population.[2] The divers surveyed participated as divers for an average of 18 years out of their average 24 active duty years.[2] Sixty percent of the divers surveyed were receiving disability compensation.[2] One in seven of the divers had experienced neurologic symptoms of decompression sickness with 41% of the divers one or more of the nine diving injuries surveyed.[2] Seven percent of the surveyed divers had undergone a joint replacement.[2] Eighty six percent of the divers rated their health as “Excellent, Very Good, or Good”.[2] When compared to the general population, the divers showed better mental health but poorer physical health.[2]


The navy diver rating was announced in Naval Administration Message 003/06 and consists of sailors with the following Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) designators:

  • NEC 5341 — master diver
  • NEC 5342 — diver first class
  • NEC 5343 — diver second class

The effective date of the rating establishment is June 1, 2006 for E6-E9 sailors (petty officer 1st class and above) and October 1, 2006 for E1-E5 sailors.

Enlisted rating designators


This is a listing of the paygrade, rating designator, and full rating name for Navy Divers:

  • E4 — ND3 — navy diver third class
  • E5 — ND2 — navy diver second class
  • E6 — ND1 — navy diver first class
  • E7 — NDC — chief navy diver
  • E8 — NDCS — senior chief navy diver
  • E9 — NDCM — master chief navy diver

Officer designators

119x – URL Officer in training for special operations qualification
114x – URL Officer qualified as a special operations officer by virtue of training in diving salvage, explosive ordnance disposal, etc.

See also


  1. Marcinik, EJ; Hyde, DE; Taylor, WF (1994). “Development of job-related physical selection criteria for U.S. Navy fleet divers.”. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine 21. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  2. Chung, J; Brugger, J; Curley, M; Wallick, M; Perkins, R; Regis, D; Latson, G (2011). “Health survey of U.S. Navy divers from 1960 to 1990: A first look”. US Navy Experimental Diving Unit Technical Report 2011-11. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  • Supervisor of Diving, Naval Sea Systems Command, 2007. US Navy Diving Manual .(UK): AquaPress Publishing. ISBN 1-905492-06-5. Revision 5. Hardback. The complete manual for equipment, procedures and operations established by the Department of Navy.
  • Supervisor of Diving, Naval Sea Systems Command, 2007. US Navy Diving Manual .(UK): AquaPress Publishing. ISBN 1-905492-00-6. Revision 5. Looseleaf. The complete manual for equipment, procedures and operations established by the Department of Navy.
  • http://www.necc.navy.mil/diver/
  • http://www.necc.navy.mil/content.htm