The training is hard and the job is risky, but Carbonear native Keith Slade was created for a career as a diver in the 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.
Hard core training
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.
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.
His military capabilities and the decision to be a diver began much earlier in his life.
Interest in the water
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.
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 an arctic expedition he took part in this past April.
Slade really enjoys the work he does with the Navy.
"I couldn't imagine doing anything else," he said.
For more comprehensive coverage, and details on some of Slade’s experiences, see the July 1 print edition of The Compass.