October 3rd 2023

101 & 75 Engineer Regiment journey to Belize for adventure training

Members journeying to conduct adventure training

Members of 101 Engineer Regiment, Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Search, and 75 Engineer Regiment journeyed to Belize to conduct 2 weeks of scuba diving training as part of an adventurous training expedition. From ocean diver and advanced ocean diver training to qualifying as sports divers, dive leaders and advanced divers members gained new qualifications.

Exercise Dragon-Blackcat Belize provided members an opportunity to deploy to Saint George’s Caye in Belize, home to the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, which provides scope to conduct British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) diver training. This expedition was supported by the Richmond Hill Trust Fund, East Midlands RFCA and the Greater London and the City of London RFCA, the Felix Fund, the REA, and RESDA. The aim was to inspire interest in marine conservation, develop leadership skills, build resilience, and undergo conditioning to stress by working in a unique environment. The Reservists successfully achieved their desired qualifications and showed enthusiasm in progressing their skills and education further.


For me, the most rewarding aspect of this training has been seeing those with no qualifications build up their skills to the point where they were proficient enough with their diving to competently dive at the Blue Hole, a world-renowned diving site” Capt Damian Gascoyne MBE, Dive Instructor, PSAO 350 Field Squadron.

Seven members of the expedition successfully qualified as BSAC advanced ocean divers, achieving the necessary skills to reach depths of 30m. Having developed an understanding of the planning necessary to undertake dives under various conditions they built their knowledge of the risks of deeper diving as well as symptoms of and techniques to deal with decompression illness, oxygen toxicity, and nitrogen narcosis. They deployed delayed surface marker buoys to support regular activities and learned to navigate underwater using pilotage and compass bearings. Being unqualified trainees at the start of the expedition they now have the ability to undertake their own dives under the management of a dive leader.

This expedition has allowed me to work on my teamwork skills and has allowed me to take command on certain aspects of the dive which has developed my leadership potential” Spr Farmer, Advanced Ocean Diver.

Three members of the team managed to qualify as BSAC sports divers. These individuals pursued their scuba interests further and developed the skills needed to dive to depths of 40m. Having completed their theory training these divers reacted to an injured diver scenario, learning to manage additional cylinders underwater and planned to dive to deeper depths. With this qualification, they are now able to conduct decompression stops whilst diving.

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I would massively recommend scuba diving for adventure training. If you have a fear of the sea or open water, then know my own fear has been quashed since this expedition and the ocean is now almost serene and meditative. It is also a fantastic opportunity to see the abundance of life in the ocean” LCpl Franklin, Sports Diver.

Another three members of the expedition were working towards their dive leader or advanced diver qualifications having previously completed the prerequisite courses. Throughout the expedition, they completed risk assessments, engaged in lectures, as well as leading and managing multiple dives.  These divers also completed an additional qualification in oxygen administration allowing them to act as collective first aiders. With these skills, they can now act as a safety diver whilst junior divers are under training and support the teaching of unqualified divers under the direction of an instructor.

My greatest challenge on this trip has been planning and delivering the dive brief. Leading up to six divers through underwater exercises, with increased responsibility and organisational skills which was a different type of leadership than what I had previously experienced. I’m just very grateful for this opportunity.” SSgt Dove, Dive Leader.

Sea Sports Belize graciously provided additional tutoring on the historical significance of the island and the ecology of the reef. Presentations were given on the history of British Honduras, the signing of Burnaby’s Code, and the Battle of Saint George’s Caye. Divers were also able to dive with numerous marine species in unique environments under the direction of local guides, including swimming with wild bottlenose dolphins, nurse sharks, reef sharks, green sea turtles, sting rays as well as a plethora of reef fish. As part of a marine conservation effort, members of the expedition also conducted a beach clean along the shores of Saint Georges Caye and as a gesture to help give something back to their kind hosts.

Overall, this expedition provided a unique opportunity to gain adventure training qualifications, develop team cohesion, and build mental resilience in challenging environments. The expedition was a massive success and all of the members are looking forward to their next underwater challenge.

With thanks to 2Lt Day, 579 Fd Sqn, 101 Engr Regt for sharing this report.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Army Reserves, then please send an email via the following link:…/midlands/nottingham-swiney-way/

"My greatest challenge on this trip has been planning and delivering the dive brief. Leading up to six divers through underwater exercises, with increased responsibility and organisational skills which was a different type of leadership than what I had previously experienced. I'm just very grateful for this opportunity." SSgt Dove, Dive Leader.