Coast Guard Underwater Unit
It was initially created as an experimental department at the Port of San Benedetto del Tronto on 1st January 1995, for preparing the inclusion of this new specialty from technical and regulatory viewpoints. The Unit was preliminarily composed by small parts of the staff directly taken from the Navy Diving Departments. The purpose was to employ professionals with many years of experience for facilitating, optimizing and accelerating the delicate forming phase of a reality definitely "atypical" for the operative methods of the Corps at that time.
After the first few months of "breaking-in" and supplied with equipments and personnel (this time taken among Coxswain staff), the 1st Unit became fully operative on 18th November 1996 - ie, the formal recognition of its ability to deliver the assigned tasks - starting an intensive job that allowed to determine its utility to have independent underwater capabilities, based upon concrete results.
Due to the positive results during the first years of service, it was decided to widen the Department creating the 2nd Diving Unit based at the Coast Guard Office of Naples (12th December 1998).
Thanks to the geographically centered position and the experience previously gained with the 1st Unit, the new Unit soon became fully operative as well as immediately involved in an intensive job with the ultimate result of 70 operations during the year 2005 (191 days "outside the area"). Further Units were created then at the Maritime Directorate of Cagliari (4th Group) and Genoa (5th Group).
Currently the underwater Department of the Coast Guard employs 54 operators for every role and level, distributed among the existing Units as follows:
1 st Divers Unit: 15 operators, including the Manager
2nd Divers Unit: 11 operators, including the Manager
3rd Divers Unit: 10 operators, including the Manager
4th Divers Unit: 10 operators, including the Manager
5th Divers Unit: 8 operators, including the Manager
The staff is integrated with 5 nurses specialized in underwater physiopathology (one per Unit), assigned by the Navy for providing healthcare support in case of need.
Divers Units are tasked with the following:
surveillance of marine areas of historical, artistic or archaeological interest with wrecks of ancient ships and cargo as well as undersea port wall structures for preventing and repressing any damage or theft;
surveillance and control of protected marine reserves;
search and rescue of human life;
surveillance and control of fishing, especially for mussel farming and professional underwater fishing sport;
detection and monitoring of pollution level in the sea;
biological Sampling and participation in scientific diving research for the study of seabed, fauna and flora;
controls and inspections of ships, platforms, submarine cables and pipelines;
Works and minor interventions to the hulls of Naval Units of the Corps;
accommodation and removal of dead bodies, chains, buoys and mooring buoys in the port area;
involvement in search campaigns, localization and recovery of submerged material of archaeological interest;
actions of criminal and maritime police, independently or cooperating with other police corps for the prevention and suppression of illicit activities in the territorial sea;
inspection and photo detection of underwater infrastructures;
assistance in sport competitions and championships;
underwater inspections of docks, sea-beds and wrecks using digital video recording:
diver to the limit of 40 meters of depth;
R.O.V. support to the depth of 300 meters (in optimal weather and sea conditions);
incognito Inspections, with Oxygen equipment, for police duties up to 12 meters;
searching for shipwrecks and castaways missed on the sea-bed using standard techniques: maps or sounding equipments on board. The acquisition of a "three-dimensional scan sonar" would be of great benefit;
demolition of underwater metal structures with "Broco" cutting system or thermal lance. Oleo-pneumatic equipment for more precise underwater tasks are about to be supplied;
operations on archaeological sites done with "surbona ad acqua" and exploration of underwater work camps, executed within the limits of technical knowledge;
measures in river and flooded areas with the supplied "Rafting" equipment and medium range motor pumps.
The Coast Guard Divers Units carried out many interventions and just recently all the necessary operations for the incident of the M/N Costa Concordia near the Giglio Island.