Sri Lanka Navy Diving



SLN has protracted her footsteps not only sea waves but beneath of waves. The Diving and Salvage unit of SLN is the pioneer and professional naval entity for underwater operations. The Diving and Salvage Unit has shined SLN during underwater operations, specially aiding to civil society. SLN divers are the experts of underwater rescue, recovering, salvage operations, demolitions and constructions. This esteemed naval crowd was evolved with lot of dedications of former naval diving officers and sailors. SLN divers are moulded through a specially designed professional training and inculcated with consultations of foreign military diving experts. SLN Divers - the underwater captors always seek new colours locally and internationally.


According to the records of G. Arndt, a diver served in the Royal Navy, numerous naval vessels were damaged, and some of them had sunk due to a cyclone in Trincomalee in 1962. After the cyclone, a group of five individuals, including G Arndt, who had diving skills, volunteered to salvage sunken ships and restore those that had been damaged. Later, this team was fortunate to follow the basic diving course at INS Venduruthy, India and to be qualified as divers.

Lieutenant Commander T Somasundaram completed the Ship Salvage Diving Officer (SSDO) course in the U.S. Navy in 1964 and he became the first Officer in Charge Diving Unit (ODU) on 08th January 1965, signifying the beginning of the Diving Unit.

Lieutenant R Wettewa who completed the Mine Clearance Diving Officer (MCDO) course in the Royal Navy in 1976 is the second diving officer of the Sri Lanka Navy.

The officers who joined the Diving Unit of the Sri Lanka Navy had the privilege of following their basic diving courses in U.S., Australia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Malaysia. Subsequently, they were attached to the main Diving Unit at the Naval Dockyard Trincomalee.

With the expansion of duties of the Sri Lanka Navy, the requirement of Navy divers also increased and the diving training was carried out by the Diving Unit.

In 1998, the Diving School at the Naval and Maritime Academy inaugurated with 01 diving officer 06 sailors. Accordingly, Lieutenant Commander UVMP Perera took over the command as the OIC Diving School.

As insurgencies in the nation intensified, the fleet saw a growing number of ships and craft being incorporated, accompanied by an upsurge in diving responsibilities. Since then, the Diving Unit has been performing a silent role, utilizing its modern equipment.

The Diving Unit houses a proficient team of divers who have developed their abilities through different courses conducted at the Naval and Maritime Academy as well as abroad.

Overview of SLN Diving branch

SLN Diving and Salvage Unit was started in January 1965. She has evolved with the span of time to engage in underwater operations in national defence and today primarily a combat support element to enhance the operational readiness of SLN. In this endeavour, the capability of the Diving and Salvage Unit has grown by human resource strengthened with multitude of experience gained from challenging successes achieved in the past and technical capacity. During her journey, she has demonstrated a very high standard in professional competencies to fulfil the requirements of the Navy. SLN divers are the professionals of underwater rescue, salvage, demolitions and constructions. Naval divers extend the fullest assistance to the sister forces in marine requirements, the nation in disaster management as well. This prestigious unit now boasts of 46 officers and 295 sailors with ultra-modern sophisticated equipment. SLN divers have written several golden chapters in naval history with exceptional performance during innumerable diving operations. Nevertheless, SLN divers dive deeper with the strength and proud.

A major part of diving missions primarily leads to enhance SLN operational readiness at all times and also avails for field specific assistance to public and other entities whenever the need arose. A wide range of in-water and other tasks that the Diving and Salvage Unit performs in naval specific and non naval nature when called up to assist others including following functions but not exhaustive;

  • Underwater repairs and maintenance of naval ships and craft.

  • Underwater search and security clearance by inspections of ship’s bottoms, sea areas and port/ harbour clearance operations.

  • Salvage and clearance of vessels, assisting distressed vessels

  • Underwater surveys, search and recovery of equipment

  • Underwater constructions

  • Installations and maintenance of underwater security systems in port and harbours security

  • Underwater photography and video filming in support of naval and non- naval tasks

  • Underwater Explosive Ordnance Disposal and demolitions

  • Deploying rescu swimmers/ aviation rescue divers at sea