NEP sailors among new crop of ship’s divers

The students of Ship’s Diver Course #0029, which wrapped up on May 17. MONA GHIZ

NEP sailors among new crop of ship’s divers 

By Nathan Stone,
Trident Staff 

Bombardier (Bdr) Cole White received the top student award from FDU(A) Commanding Officer LCdr Michael St-Pierre (right) and unit Coxswain CPO1 Rob Williams (left) RYAN MELANSON

A group of Naval Experience Program participants became the first from the program to graduate from the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Ship’s Diver course on May 17. 

The course wrapped up with a small graduation ceremony at Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) (FDU(A)) in Shearwater. Completing the six-week diving course qualifies the graduates to become Ship’s Divers aboard RCN vessels; It’s also a prerequisite for aspiring Clearance Divers.  

The NEP program was launched in spring 2023, but the latest iteration of the course marked the first time the ship’s diver training was open to its participants.  

Diving instructor Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) Donald Warren led the training course. He said his students “progressed very well,” and the NEP sailors kept pace with their Regular Force classmates.

He described the six-week program as “very demanding” for the students. There’s serious mental and physical work involved in becoming a Ship’s Diver, but the course is highly rewarding for both students and instructors, he added. 

“The most satisfying thing is seeing the progression of their skills, going from people who have never dove before, to people who are confident and competent divers.” 

PO2 Warren said the Ship’s Diver course is in high demand and normally held four times a year – three times for Reg Force members and once for reservists. 

Sailor 3rd Class Nicholas Esparo is an NEP graduate of the course. At 19 years old, he’s one of the youngest in the cohort. He said he was already eyeing the Clearance Diver trade when he signed up. 

“This course solidified the fact that I want to do something with diving.” 

He said that the first two weeks of the course were challenging and learning intensive, but he found a groove in the latter weeks, as the class spent more time in and under the water.
“There’s a lot of info thrown at you at once, so you have to absorb as much as possible.” 

A plaque was presented to the top diver of the class, with Bombardier (Bdr) Cole White winning the informal award as the most outstanding student as chosen by the instructors.  

Bdr White is transferring to the RCN in July and has been accepted for training as a Clearance Diver. He said he enjoyed pushing himself to meet the challenge over the last six weeks.  

“It’s hard, and it’s supposed to be hard.”  

Bdr White added that the opportunity to dive wreck sites around McNabs Island was a personal highlight. 

Diving instructor PO2 Donald Warren was in good spirits after getting tossed in the water by his graduating students.

The course’s final day ended with a splash, as students fulfilled an FDU (A) tradition of throwing their instructor, PO2 Warren, off the Jetty and into the water. P02 Warren is moving on from his instructor role and the assisted dip in the ocean served as a sendoff from his last batch of students.  

Diving community stays connected 

Royal Canadian Navy divers of all stripes are known to be a tight-knit group, with a camaraderie gained through shared experiences and difficult, sometimes harrowing, work beneath the waves.  

For some, those connections and friendships can last a lifetime. Canadian Naval Divers Association member Moe Muise, who completed his Ship’s Diver course more than 50 years ago, still stays in touch with colleagues, and is part of a Ship’s Diver Facebook group with more than 400 members, including classmates from the early 70s. 

Muise has also been a driving force behind the development of special Navy Diver rings from ring manufacturer Jostens. The first Ship’s Diver rings were ordered in 2019, and the line now includes rings for Port Inspection Divers, Clearance Divers, and Combat Divers as well.  

“We’re building a community of people who are very proud of their hard work as divers, and this is one way to remember and acknowledge that work,” Muise said.

For more information on the Ship’s Diver and other rings, visit, and Ship’s Divers are also invited to connect with the Royal Canadian Navy Ship’s Divers Group on Facebook.