Sapper Divers Detachments

The Destacamentos de Mergulhadores Sapadores (Sapper Divers Detachments) are the Portuguese Navy's combat divers unit.


The unit was created and activated near the end of 1972 (during the Portuguese Colonial War), due to operational imperatives of the activities of Guinea’s Maritime Defense Command. They were disbanded in 1975, after the extinction of this command; afterwards the operational activity of the divers was assigned to the Escola de Mergulhadores (Divers School).

The Destacamento de Mergulhadores Sapadores Nº1 (Nº1 Sapper Divers Detachment) was reactivated on June 1, 1988, because there was a need of an operational unit specially dedicated to the military diving area. Public interest activities, namely salvage diving and search-and-rescue were still assigned to the Divers School.

When, on January 1, 1995, the Destacamento de Mergulhadores Sapadores Nº2 (Nº2 Sapper Divers Detachment) was reactivated (with twenty elements instead of thirteen), all operational activity was assigned to the detachments; the Divers School became only dedicated to the instruction activities.

These units are based in the Submarine Fleet buildings in the Alfeite Naval Base; they are under Administrative Command of that Fleet and under Operational Command of the Naval Command in Oeiras.


The missions assigned to the unit are:

  • Tactical coastal reconnaissance and obstacle clearing for the landing of amphibious forces.
  • Salvage diving operations, namely survey, repair and recuperation of naval units.
  • Search-and-rescue operations.
  • Co-operation in the control of activities linked to the seabed.
  • Co-operation in the scientific study of the sea.

High-profile missions:

  • Exercises of amphibious operations in the CONTEX national exercises.
  • The recent certification for deep diving up to 81 meters.

External links

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