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U.S. Army Dive Company, Fort Eustis, Virginia


The U.S. Army Dive Company is the only unit of its kind in the Army. Based at
Fort Eustis, Virginia, the company consists of five teams: the 544th Engineer Dive Team,
which is performing the Embry Dam breach, and the 511th, 569th, 74th, and 86th
Engineer Dive Teams.


The Army engineer diver field is small. There are about 120 divers stationed at
Fort Eustis, 25 divers stationed in Hawaii, and 20 instructors located in Panama City,
Fla., at the U.S. Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center.


Dive teams are called upon to perform a

number of missions in both SCUBA and surface-
supplied diving modes. Missions include
underwater demolitions; salvaging vessels and
bridges; clearing inland waterways and ports;
inspecting and repairing dams, canals, seawalls
and other underwater structures; welding and
repairing watercraft; conducting mine and
countermine operations; performing
reconnaissance; conducting search, rescue and
recovery operations; and conducting
hydrographic surveys.


Becoming an Army diver demands first passing a physically demanding 26-week

training course at the U.S. Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City,
Fla. The rigorous coursework includes instruction and training in diving physics and
medicine, hyperbaric chamber operation and maintenance, demolition, operation and
maintenance of specialized diving equipment and underwater construction and salvage
techniques. During their careers, divers return to the school periodically for more
advanced training.


Army divers truly live up to their motto, “We dive the world over.” They support a
variety of agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the U.S. Army
Transportation Corps; the U.S. Department of Transportation; the U.S. Coast Guard; the
U.S. Navy; the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.
Their missions take them all over the world. Ongoing missions include
supporting the entire theater of operations in Iraq. They have also deployed to support
task forces in Croatia and Bulgaria (2001); provide hurricane relief in Honduras (1997)
and the U.S. Virgin Islands (1995); assist with drug interdiction efforts in the U.S. Virgin
Islands (1995); and support missions in Haiti (1994), Somalia (1992-1993), Operation
Desert Storm (1991) and Operation Just Cause in Panama (1989).


The Dive Team is performing

this breach of the Embrey Dam as
part of the Department of Defense
Innovative Readiness Training
Program. The program allows units
to complete civil works and other
projects that benefit a community
while supporting a unit’s readiness
training objectives.

This project is headed by the

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The
Dive Company spent months
planning and coordinating the
operation with numerous agencies.

The detonation on Feb. 23 will be just the “beginning of the end” for the Embrey
Dam. The penetration will open several holes in the dam to create fish passages and to
drain pooled water from behind the dam. Low placement of demolition is necessary for
safety reasons, and may leave portions of the upper slab, top cap, and supporting piers

The dam breach will immediately allow fish migration and reduce the chance for
flash flooding. However, canoers and kayakers will have to wait to traverse that part of
the river until the area has been cleared of enough debris to allow safe, free passage.

The Corps of Engineers estimates that the dam will be completely dismantled in