The Evolution of US Combat Diving

Combat diving evolution.

These seven articles are derived from my Submarine Medical Officer (SMO) thesis “A Review of the Combat Diving Evolution of US Naval Special Warfare with a Focus on the Necessity of Disruptive Technologies and Innovative Scientists.” Undersea Medical Officers (UMOs) in the US Navy are physicians who have successfully completed the Undersea Medical Officer Course (blog here) at the Naval Undersea Medical Institute (NUMI) in Groton, Connecticut. This is a six month course that is divided into three phases. The first and third phases take place in Groton, and the middle phase, “Dive School,” is completed at the US Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, Florida.

After successfully completing Dive School, a candidate is qualified as a Dive Medical Officer (DMO) contingent upon completion of the entire UMO Course. After completing the entire six month UMOC Course, candidates are qualified to practice as Undersea Medical Officers. Near the end of training, the available billets (108) in the UMO community are divided amongst the graduates. These billets include dive billets, submarine billets, research billets, special operations billets, and various other unique opportunities.

Although qualified as UMOs and DMOs, graduates must still fulfill multiple other stringent requirements to be qualified as Submarine Medical Officers (SMOs). These requirements must be met within a certain period of time, usually while working as a UMO during the years immediately after the UMOC course. Many graduates never complete these requirements. But those who do, can wear the coveted Submarine Medical Officer Device.

One of these requirements is to write a thesis about diving or submarine medicine. Some theses include studies or experiments that further our understanding of dive physiology and often improve the medical care we provide as UMOs. I chose to perform a deep dive review into the evolution of US combat diving and the related physiological and technological challenges. These seven articles are the seven different sections in my thesis. Initially, this thesis was rejected because it did not include enough “medicine.” But after multiple modifications and nearly four years later, the thesis was accepted and I was awarded my Submarine Medical Officer device.

This paper demanded immense research and countless hours over multiple years to yield the final product. I hope you enjoy this review and that it sheds some light on the numerous challenges involved in this unique way of waging warfare. None of the information contained is classified, it is all obtained from open sources and the sources are listed in detail. Also, this work was completed in 2016, so even now some of the information may be dated. Enjoy.

Begin reading Part 1 here.

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