An army captain from New Glasgow is diving into the frigid waters near Sydney as he carries out a survey of the underwater infrastructure at the Coast Guard College in Westmount.
Josh Bennett from the 4 Engineer Support Regiment’s combat dive team is working alongside the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), as part of Exercise Nihilo Sapper 2017, Atlantic Canada’s biggest annual military engineering exercise.
“Diving is important because we’re naturally surrounded by water, whether it’s the ocean, inland rivers, or lakes, there could ever be an intent or a need to do in-water diving,” said Bennett. “That’s where army divers could be utilized the most.”
Army divers use equipment similar to their civilian counterparts, including wetsuits and oxygen cylinders connected to face masks.
Being in the army, Bennett welcomed the chance to take to the waters alongside his navy colleagues.
“Definitely diving is a highlight, we don’t get to do it all so often because it’s a secondary duty,” said Bennett.
After growing up in New Glasgow, Bennett joined the army as it offered a mental and physical challenge in his day-to-day tasks, as well as stronger routine and organization.
He added that joining the army gave him a chance to do “something greater than yourself and being able to serve the country that I love and grew up in.”
While he spends long periods of time away from home, Bennett still visits New Glasgow and sees his old friends when home on leave.
“I’d also probably be amiss if I didn’t mention the pizza,” quipped Bennett.
Cpl. Michael Rudderham, a mechanic with the regiment, also hails from New Glasgow.
He works as a vehicle mechanic maintaining vehicles from trucks to armoured vehicles, as well as heaters and chainsaws.
“Diagnosing is a good challenge, there’s a wide, wide variety of vehicles that we work on here, there’s probably approximately 30 to 40 different pieces of equipment,” said Rudderham.
Vehicles being used on Nihilo Sapper include trucks, jeeps, fuel and water tankers, as well as light armoured vehicles, mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles and huskies, specialized vehicles that can detect mines with ground-penetrating radar.
Rudderham’s colleague, Cpl. Gordon Smith from Trenton, described maintaining LAVs as “pretty labour-intensive.”
“They’re a fun machine to work on,” said Smith.