By Petty Officer Monique Deveaux
Since the establishment of the Dive Section within the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, a strategic approach has been taken to perpetuate this unit. The newly revamped dive program was formed to be a center of excellence for the region, and additionally, this unit also has a social responsibility to protect the environment.
Because a sustainable future for diving within the Royal Bahamas Defence Force requires a strategic approach, the organization must continually look at ways to augment its diving program to face the challenges of operating in the twenty-first century. Addressing the needs of a small island state such as The Bahamas, which is surrounded by one of the largest bodies of water within the region, is paramount. Subject-Matter Exchange Exercises with local and regional partners as means of strengthening relationships and building cooperation within the region may be used as an approach to benchmarking dive programs. Adopting a sustainable approach to diving within the Defence Force requires emphasis on the acquisition of more resources and capabilities from partner nations, to strengthen subsurface activities within the region as a whole.
Developing a center of excellence in diving where the needs of the organization’s operational functions can be achieved, includes fulfilling the mandate of search and rescue missions, are prudent to the success of the organization. The Defence Force seeks to brand its diving program, where regional members of the military and security forces can be trained in relatable dive skills and other duties related to search and rescue. This goal can be achieved through the building of strong partnerships with key stakeholders, promoting diving capabilities within the region. As the force seeks to build its diving program, it also similarly seeks to build member nations of the
region, thus, improving the efficiency of divers’ capabilities to protect the region. This focuses on talent management, as the organization seeks to become a center of diving excellence.
A sustainable approach of diving in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force extends to the organization in its corporate social responsibility to protect the environment through its coral reef restoration efforts. In 2017, five (5) Defence Force Marines were qualified as Coral Nursery Restoration Divers. Along with protecting the territorial waters of the Bahamas, the RBDF Military Divers also work in conjunction with local agencies such as the Department of Marine Resources, Best Commission, and Department of the Environment, to investigate reports of marine environmental damage to local reefs. As an entity and the protectors of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the RBDF is committed to guarding its heritage against the deterrence of environmental damage and avert offenders who seek to cause potential damage to The Bahamas marine life.
Over the years, the Defence Force has continually produced effective and efficient divers within its organization in historic fashion by qualifying nine (9) dive masters, of which two are females. Today the dive program boasts a complement of ninety (90) military divers. Force Chief Petty Officer Thomas William, a Military Diver and PADI Master Instructor continually works on training divers and dive instructors to ensure that the force is maintaining a sustainable approach to diving in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
In addition to adopting a sustainable approach to diving with a focus on succession planning and recruitment efforts, the organization has introduced its Rangers Program (a cadet program) scuba diver international certified open water divers’ course along with local partners within the community. With twenty-four (24) scuba diver international certified open water divers, the Rangers Program remains a focal point for the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Raymond King’s strategic intent of focusing on organizational sustainment and national youth development.
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