Members of the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team 3 have received the United States Unit Commendation for service in the 1991 Gulf War.
CAPTION: Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Johnathon Mead (right) and US Consul General Linda Daetwyler with members of Navy Clearance Diving Team 3 at HMAS Penguin. Photo by Leading Seaman Nicolas Gonzalez.
In 1992, the Acting Secretary of the US Navy awarded a US Unit Commendation to units involved in the 1991 multinational Desert Storm Task Group.
Australian guidelines at the time prevented Clearance Diving Team 3 personnel from accepting the US award.
Following later revision of the Australian guidelines and a US review of their records to ensure all entitled personnel receive their awards, the commendation has now been presented.
In a ceremony at the Australian Defence Force Dive School at HMAS Penguin, Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead presented the commendation ribbons to members who deployed to the Middle East in support of Operations Damask and Desert Storm from 27 January to 9 May 1991.
Rear Admiral Mead said the award of the US Unit Commendation was a reminder of the significant achievement of Clearance Diving Team 3 during the First Gulf War.
“Under the command of Lieutenant Commander John Griffith, the team of 23 Navy Clearance Divers was initially involved in the preparations for a possible amphibious assault of Iraqi-occupied Kuwait,” Rear Admiral Mead said.
“As the requirement for an amphibious operation receded the team’s primary mission became the explosive-ordnance clearance of Kuwaiti ports in support of the US Navy’s coastal-warfare and port-recovery operations.”
Former Executive Officer of Clearance Diving Team 3 and current Head of Clearance Diving Captain Stephen O’Brien said the commendation was welcome recognition for a deployment that was both challenging and rewarding.
“In 1991, we deployed in 48 hours after receiving the order, with 50 tonnes of equipment and explosives and immediately set to work,” Captain O’Brien said.
“Our work was performed in difficult and complex conditions as we dealt with numerous mines and cleared a significant amount of ordnance.
“We are honoured to be recognised for our efforts and proud that our experience from the First Gulf War has helped Navy in later deployments, informing the way we operate today.”