EDMOND — Four Royal New Zealand Navy divers got more than they had imagined when they came to the United States for an underwater explosive recovery class. Their rooms are in Bricktown in downtown Oklahoma City, which also is where the NBA Finals are taking place.
They visited Thunder Alley before Game 1 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, and watched the game at a nearby bar and restaurant.
“It was a great time,” said Petty Officer Jim Dimond, who celebrated his 43rd birthday Tuesday.
This week, 18 divers and bomb technicians are in Edmond and Arcadia Lake attending classes put on by the Edmond Police Department. Participants also came from Arkansas, Minnesota, California, Florida, Maryland, Kentucky and Connecticut.
The course was started by Edmond police crime scene technician Rockie Yardley in 1996 and is the only program in the world that certifies nonmilitary divers in underwater explosive render-safe procedures.
This is the 20th class. Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and the U.S. Navy have become certified in diving and explosives since the class started.
“This course is needed,” Yardley said Wednesday as divers recovered a submerged car in the murky waters of Arcadia Lake. “We are trying to stay one step ahead of the terrorists. We are usually one step behind.”
New Zealand naval divers are charged with finding and destroying underwater explosives as they travel throughout their country.
“Everyone here is a bomb tech or a diver,” Yardley said. “Everyone knows what to do. We just want everyone to be safe.”
Petty Officer Scott Treleaven is in America for the first time.
“I'm enjoying it,” Treleaven said. “I like the heat. It is cold back home. The water is nice.”
They agree that the most interesting part of the course so far has been a lecture on X-ray equipment. They said they use the same equipment at home in water that resembles the water at Arcadia Lake.
“There has been good stuff in the classroom,” said Petty Officer Dan Reynolds.