Sub­mersible Slade

Car­bon­ear na­tive Keith Slade mem­ber of spe­cial­ized navy div­ing team

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

Ev­ery­day is a new and ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture for Car­bon­ear na­tive Keith Slade.

The 33-year-old fa­ther of two is a diver with the Royal Cana­dian Navy.

As a mil­i­tary diver, or clear­ance diver, Leading Sea­man Slade has had the op­por­tu­nity to travel the world, tak­ing in all sorts of un­der­wa­ter scenery, from the freez­ing ice­berg filled arc­tic to the bar­rier reefs of Aus­tralia.

He dives with a se­lect group called the Fleet Div­ing Unit At­lantic out of Shear­wa­ter, N.S., near Halifax.

For the past 12 years, Slade has been train­ing with the mil­i­tary, start­ing out in the re­serves at HMCS Cabot and com­plet­ing ba­sic train­ing at the Cana­dian Forces Base in Bor­den, Ont. He com­pleted his port in­spec­tion diver course, then his ship’s team diver course. He now has a qual­i­fi­ca­tion level five (QL5) cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in div­ing.

Ex­plo­sive ca­reer

His div­ing jour­ney hasn’t been easy. In fact, his train­ing has con­sisted of some of the most stress­ful and dif­fi­cult ex­er­cises he has ever ex­pe­ri­enced, es­pe­cially the six-week ship’s team diver train­ing.

“What I didn’t ex­pect is the in­ten­sity of the course,” Slade told The Com­pass in a phone in­ter­view from his home in Beaver Bank, N.S. “I may not have paid with cash money, but I cer­tainly paid with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.”

The cour­ses are cre­ated to weed out those who are not suited for the po­si­tion, since it takes a lot of phys­i­cal en­durance and the abil­ity to deal with high stress sit­u­a­tions.

Slade is also a cer­ti­fied un­der­wa­ter bomb tech­ni­cian, dis­arm­ing sea mines and other mil­i­tary grade ex­plo­sives.

“The ex­plo­sive stuff is ex­cit­ing. It makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck from time-to-time,” Slade said.

But he also gets to take part in some in­ter­est­ing ad­ven­tures.

Just this past April , Slade was a mem­ber of a group that trav­elled to the arc­tic wa­ters off Devon Is­land in Nu­navut, where a team pho­tographed the Breadal­bane, the world’s most northerly ship­wreck from 1853. The divers had to cut through five-and-a-half feet of ice to be­gin their dive.

“We have to be ca­pa­ble to dive in all con­di­tions all around the world,” he ex­plained. “In the Arc­tic, we had to prove we were ca­pa­ble of do­ing our job in the high north.”

Slade loves div­ing in all con­di­tions, and noted div­ing in the arc­tic is just as beau­ti­ful as div­ing in trop­i­cal en­vi­ron­ments.

“There’s some­thing about the free­dom of be­ing in the wa­ter,” he said.

How it be­gan

His mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the de­ci­sion to be a diver be­gan much ear­lier in his life.

As a young boy, Slade at­tended many swim com­pe­ti­tions for Po­sei­don Swim Club of Car­bon­ear to cheer on his older brother Ken. Af­ter that, he de­cided to start swim­ming com­pet­i­tively and be­gan his life­guard train­ing.

“I ’m from New­found­land, and we’re sur­rounded by wa­ter, it was nat­u­ral to swim,” Slade said.

Slade was also a mem­ber of the 589 Car­bon­ear air cadet squadron, where he spent five years. He also re­ceived life­guard train­ing through cadets.

At­tend­ing Green­wood air cadet sum­mer train­ing cen­tre in Nova Sco­tia, he worked as a life­guard at camp, but also worked at the Car­bon­ear Swim­ming Pool.

Re­breather

Slade has worked hard to get where he is, and prides him­self in the work he has done with the div­ing team.

“Ev­ery­thing that I have done per­tain­ing to my job has been an ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. “Some days I could go to work and I could be fix­ing div­ing equip­ment, the next I could be on a he­li­copter to Sable Is­land.”

Slade has taken part in some in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­di­tions us­ing a re­breather, a spe­cial i zed breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus. The re­breather helps re­cy­cle car­bon diox­ide into a use­able sub­stance. It also doesn’t make noise or re­lease bub­bles like other scuba div­ing equip­ment.

This is also the equip­ment he uses when he dis­arms ex­plo­sives, so noise doesn’t activate them.

Build­ing suc­cess

Al­though it was Slade’s hard work and ded­i­ca­tion that got him where he is, t here are many other things he at­tributes his suc­cess to, in­clud­ing the Car­bon­ear pool and sup­port from his fam­ily.

“I can firmly say that the Car­bon­ear Swim­ming Pool and the ser­vices it pro­vides, had a tremen­dous im­pact on the per­son that I am to­day,” he said.

Work­ing there has helped him earn the skills nec­es­sary for long dives and wa­ter safety.

“I couldn’t think of a bet­ter job as a teenager,” Slade said.

Brother Ken, as well as sis­ters Krista and Katie, all worked in some ca­pac­ity at the Car­bon­ear pool, some­thing they en­joyed as well.

A few years ago, Keith was trans­ferred to Nova Sco­tia from Bri­tish Columbia, which he was an­tic­i­pat­ing to get closer to his and his wife’s home prov­ince of New­found­land and Labrador and their fam­i­lies.

His fam­ily has great pride in him, and has en­cour­aged him through­out the years.

Mom El­iz­a­beth told The Com­pass how ex­cited she is of Keith’s achieve­ments, and how he re­ceived in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for his arc­tic ex­pe­di­tion.

Slade re­ally en­joys the work he does with the Navy.

“I couldn’t imag­ine do­ing any­thing else,” he said.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Keith Slade has been a mem­ber of the Cana­dian mil­i­tary for the past 12 years.

Keith Slade had the op­por­tu­nity to use a div­ing suit that was re­tired around the same time he was born, the Mark V dive en­sem­ble.

Car­bon­ear na­tive Keith Slade is a clear­ance diver with the Royal Cana­dian Navy in Shear­wa­ter, N.S.

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