Seven hundred plus turn up trying for 30 Navy diver posts

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More than 700 hopefuls turned up for the SA Navy’s national diver recruitment effort last month (May) with 50 recommended for the next stage of the military skills development (MSD) system.

Those who made it through a 300m freestyle swim, 50m snorkel swim, 50m swim wearing a diving mask full of water, 25m underwater swim and 50m weight belt swim as well as terra firma exercises to prove fitness are not guaranteed to make it into uniform.

Responding to a defenceWeb inquiry, SA Navy (SAN) Naval Public Relations (NPR) said the 50 recommended candidates will go into the total SA National Defence Force (SANDF) MSD recruitment pool for next year’s intake. They, along with others who make selection, will undergo human resource interviews and medical assessments. If muster is passed in these they, according to NPR, will be “offered an opportunity to commence with BMT (basic military training) at Saldanha Bay”.

NPR further advised the diver recruitment effort targeted 30 candidates for next year’s MSD intake adding “ideally 60 SAN divers would meet operational requirements”.

The single largest number of volunteer divers by province – 192 – turned up to display their aquatic skills in Limpopo capital Polokwane with the next highest in Free State, where 177 young men and women arrived for the Bloemfontein recruitment leg. KwaZulu-Natal was the highest placed coastal province with 164. Other provincial arrivals were Gauteng (119), North West (67), Northern Cape (40), Eastern Cape (33), Mpumalanga (24) and Western Cape (78).

NPR told defenceWeb “no incidents” were reported during the swimming component of the drive with “safety swimmers in the water at all times” to prevent and assist in the event of difficulties. This is contrasted by a report in Johannesburg-based daily The Citizen of a “rescue mission” in Mbombela when want-to-be SAN divers found themselves in trouble and had to be hauled from the city’s Van Riebeeck swimming pool.