Navy Divers Stand Watch during International Submarine Races

Third day of the International Human-Powered Submarine Races in the David Taylor Model Basin at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in West Bethesda, Md., June 28, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Edvin Hernandez/Released)

High school students from around the world converged on the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) for the International Submarine Races. The students race human-powered submarines they designed and built themselves in the command’s David Taylor Model Basin. Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s primary source of diving and hyperbaric operational guidance are on station in the basin during the six day race to ensure the students’ safety.

These dramatic, unnatural waves are programmed with the use of wave paddles + engineering control systems at the Navy's MASK facility, Carderock.

These dramatic, unnatural waves are programmed with the use of wave paddles + engineering control systems at the Navy’s MASK facility, Carderock.

“This event is inherently dangerous because of what can happen during the races,” said Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Ralph Schmitz, special warfare diving leading chief petty officer for Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU). “The students competing in this event are underwater in their craft during this race. If their primary air source (scuba) fails when you’re in 20 feet of water, what do you do? For us, dealing with a situation like that is almost second nature. It’s what we do.”

NEDU, homeported in Panama City, Fla., is the Navy’s leading center for diving research, development, and testing and evaluation, also providing physiological and engineering solutions for undersea operations.


Fourth day of the International Human-Powered Submarine Races in the David Taylor Model Basin at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in West Bethesda, Md., June 29, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Devin Pisner/Released)

Once at the basin and in the water, the NEDU divers, with support from other active duty and reserve dive-qualified sailors in the National Capital Region, took responsibility for the race course area of the basin, while the ISR staff and divers were responsible for the launching area.

These "natural waves" are programmed with the use of wave paddles + engineering control systems at the Navy's MASK facility, Carderock.

These “natural waves” are programmed with the use of wave paddles + engineering control systems at the Navy’s MASK facility, Carderock.

“When they break the plane of the green lights at the start of the race course, from that moment until they either fail or successfully complete the run and are extracted, we have total control of the evolution,” Schmitz said. “There’s a lot that can go wrong working in this environment with the level of training and experience many of these students have.”

The race wraps up on June 30. Visit the Carderock Flickr page for photos of the event and marvel at the Navy’s indoor ocean at Carderock in the video below.

Read more on DVIDS.

RELATED LINK: Young Engineers Showcase Innovation at International Submarine Races
The Navy’s Indoor Ocean

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