Navy Diving Center

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Coat of arms
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Search an rescue operations of submarines
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Underwater repair works with air supply equipment

The Commanding Officer of the Spanish Navy Diving Center welcomes you to this website. We are going to expound on the most relevant tasks, missions, milestones and equipment with which we operate.

The Navy Diving Center (CBA in its Spanish initials), in addition to the military staff, has medical and civilian personnel. They are tasked with all the different diving specialties like combat divers, scuba divers and rescue divers who made up the Operational Diving Teams.

The CBA is the specialized Spanish Navy center in charge of underwater activities and reference center for the rest of the Armed Forces.

The main tasks include:

1. Maritime Action Center:

  • Support to ships’ checking up and repair works.
  • Search and rescue of submarines.
  • Search, pinpointing and protection of underwater archaeological heritage.
  • Conduct underwater endeavors in any part of Spain.

2. Reference Center of Underwater Activities:

  • Study and suggest diving techniques, material to be used and standardization and certification of equipment.
  • Advise on procedures, equipment and hyperbaric chambers in Navy bases or in other military or civilian facilities requesting such assistance.
  • Advice on occupational risk prevention and operational security issues related to diving.
  • Represent Spain in NATO’s Underwater Diving Working Group (UDWG) and the Submarine Escape and Rescue Working Group (SMERWG).
  • Support research projects and help protect Spain’s underwater archaeological heritage.

3. Reference Center for Underwater and Hyperbaric Medicine:

  • Study and put forward procedures for health checks (and ratification of those checks) of all divers and scuba divers.
  • Advice on physiological, medical and pathological deceases derived from diving activities conducted by Armed Forces’ divers.

4. Diving Doctrine and Material:

  • Draft and update doctrine to warrant the best and efficient use of tactical diving.
  • Perform as ‘Standardization Office Num. 56’ (Diving Material) being responsible for the harmonization of all diving systems and equipment.
  • Collaborate with the Logistic Support Head Office to define the technical requirements of all the underwater equipment used in the Spanish Navy, as well as the drafting and upgrading of all Technical Certification Manuals of the hyperbaric chambers.
  • Advice Cartagena’s Spare Parts Depot on all issues related to the Diving Centre requirements.

In addition, the CBA can further generate, upon demand, Operational Diving Teams responsible of the following:

  • Protect and defend warships and naval facilities against possible sabotages that can be carried out under the water.
  • Likewise, protect national or foreign merchant ships whenever the corresponding naval authority so orders.
  • Collaborate with the mine countermeasures (MCM) units.
  • Cooperate in underwater repair works and rescue of ships.

All active divers take part in daily physical exercises to warrant their competence and aptitude including prolonged swimming sessions on Fridays.

At the Navy Diving Center there is always an operational diving team either training, or conducting maintenance and repair works.

The Spanish Navy Diving Center (CBA) is located at the Algameca Naval Station in Cartagena (SE Spain).

The CBA has two fixed and two portable hyperbaric chambers, different craft, diving equipment, a side-scan sonar and remotely operated vehicles In addition to a sick bay for hyperbaric diseases.

The use of divers in the Spanish Navy dates back to the second half of the 15th century, when the ships were equipped with personnel responsible for repairing the damages caused by groundings, storms, waterways, etc., and for recovering anchors, artillery pieces, cargoes, etc.

In the Ordinances of the Good Government drafted in 1633, the figure of the “diver” was already contemplated. He was tasked with the work of making underwater surveys, to pass buoy ropes to the anchors that had been lost and, in general, implement whatever was ordered for the good service of the ship.

The first team of combat divers constituted as such came into action in 1782, mining the Strait of Gibraltar under the command of General Grillon.

When the Cartagena Submarine School was created, and at the proposal of its director, Lieutenant Commander Mateo García de los Reyes, the School of Divers was set up and approved by King Alfonso XIII on July 24, 1922.

During the civil war, through the Navy Commission for the Salvage of Ships, divers participated in the rescue of ships sunk by the aviation in ports and shallow waters. It is worth underlining the rescue and refloating of the destroyer ‘Císcar’ in the port of El Musel (Gijón). In that period the Commission managed to save and refloat 177 ships, totaling more than 160,000 tons recovered.

With the boom of diving operations, at the end of the 60's, the existing facilities moved in March 1970 to the Algameca Naval Station, giving birth to the current Spanish Navy Diving Center.

The current complement of the Center amounts to 90 people.

One of the main missions of the CBA is to repair and keep in good condition the underwater part of the ships homeported in Cartagena.

The Center took part in the refloating of the minehunter ‘Turia’ which ran aground during an operation in swallow waters while trying to recover a C-101 training aircraft that crashed near La Manga (Murcia).

Every year three operations are regularly scheduled with tasks that include protection and reconnaissance of underwater heritage, training in underwater repairs and diving in extreme conditions.


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