Royal Canadian Navy clearance divers assist other divers into the water during a procedure used when diving near suspected underwater mines.

Royal Canadian Navy clearance divers assist other divers into the water during a procedure used when diving near suspected underwater mines.

Diver helps dispose of underwater mines in multi-national operation

There’s something about exploring unknown waters and diving deep in the depths of the ocean that Hector Ladron De Guevara loves.

There’s something about exploring unknown waters and diving deep in the depths of the ocean that Hector Ladron De Guevara loves.

Ever since he was a four-year-old growing up in Mexico, Ladron De Guevara remembers seeing divers climbing in and out of the water off the coast of the Mayan Riviera, but wasn’t sure exactly what they were doing.

After graduating from high school, he decided to complete an open water diving course. Shortly after, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 2001, but continued his passion for diving as a civilian.

Now, Ladron De Guevara is a leading seaman with the Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific), which is based out of CFB Esquimalt, and is part of the team responsible for clearing underwater mines, as well as underwater welding, cutting and photography, among other things.

“There’s something to be said about a place that obviously you don’t belong. When you go down there everything is different, there’s absolutely no noises, you don’t have to hurry up to do anything, you’re just there,” Ladron De Guevara said. “Everything is different underwater and the ability to breathe underwater, to me, is super cool.”

Most recently, Ladron De Guevara participated in Operation Open Spirit in Lithuania, an annual multinational operation dedicated to clearing explosive remnants of war in the Baltic Sea.

As part of the operation in the waters surrounding the Klaipeda Harbour, Ladron De Guevara, along with other members of the team, helped identify and dispose of eight mines.

In WWI and WWII, the Baltic Sea saw heavy fighting, which included air bombardment, naval gunfire support, mine laying and submarine warfare. However, as a result, many mines remain unexploded, presenting a potential safety hazard in the area.

It can be a dangerous job to say the least.

Using a system that takes sonar imagery of the bottom of the ocean, they assess the photos to see if there are potentially any unexploded mines. Divers are then given the coordinates and Ladron De Guevara and the team put on their diving gear to investigate.

Sometimes they investigate thinking it could be a mine and it turns out to be a rock. But Ladron De Guevara said they still have to approach all objects with care.

“You can’t take that for granted. You still have to approach it with care and as if it was a real one,”  Ladron De Guevara said, adding he was diving an average of 25 metres and helped clear two square kilometres of ocean. “You just shut down and go with it.”

The Canadian diving team was responsible for conducting a controlled detonation on one of the eight mines.

“With this particular mine, it was old and pretty much rusted through. We didn’t even touch them, we just placed charges on it and blew them up,” Ladron De Guevara said. “We keep the movement minimal.”

Operation Open Spirit was Ladron De Guevara’s first official operation with the diving unit. Next he’ll travel to San Diego for an underwater exercise.

Operation Open Spirit was conducted from May 13 to 27 with the deployment of 11 Royal Canadian Navy divers and support personnel — nine from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) and two from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) — working alongside personnel from 12 partner nations.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Following a cease work order from the District of Highlands in October, the BC Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20. that bylaws won’t apply to O.K. Industries’ work until its quarrying activity is complete. (Courtesy of District of Highlands)
BC Supreme Court rules Highlands quarry work can continue

District bylaws won’t apply until quarrying activities are complete

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read