1st Marine Regiment – Royal West Florida Navy:
The 1st Marine Regiment is the coastal defence arm of the Royal West Florida Navy. Although their natural combat environment is coastal zones, river deltas & other amphibious areas, the regiment has the ability to operate in all types of terrain. The regiment originated with the establishment of the navy’s clearance diving branch in 1952. Although divers had been used since the 1920s, it was not until the Second World War that clearance diving operations became a focus, when a small number of RWFN volunteers worked alongside RN divers to remove naval mines from British waters. Some RWFN divers were also used to perform reconnaissance of amphibious landing sites. The skills learned in the European theatre were brought back to West Florida, & after the war, divers were used during the clean-up of defensive mines in Gulf Coast waters. The utility of clearance & commando divers demonstrated during & after the war prompted the establishment of the RWFN’s clearance diving branch, with responsibility for mine clearance & reconnaissance operations along the West Florida coast. RWFN clearance divers carry out maritime tactical operations including clandestine hydrographic survey & beach reconnaissance (including up to 2 km inland), & clandestine document collection. They are also involved in mine countermeasures, locating & disposing of sea mines in shallow waters, rendering safe & recovering enemy mines, as well as the search for & disposal of ordnance below the water. They also clear surface ordnance in port or on naval facilities. They can embark on warships to provide specialist support for boarding parties with improvised explosive devices (IED) & explosive ordnance. They also work closely with the commandos from the army’s 1st Ranger Regiment.
In addition to the clearance diving teams, the regiment’s rifle platoons are responsible for engaging landing parties, monitoring sea & airspace, & protecting base & port areas. All units of the regiment are trained to conduct small scale raids & assaults, gather intelligence, & undertake sabotage operations. 1st Marine Regiment consists of a HQ company & two naval security companies, with a total strength of around 350 personnel. HQ Company has a staff & admin element, an intelligence & surveillance cell, fire support teams (for coordinated joint fires), a patrol boat platoon (with specialist boarding parties), a signals platoon, & a logistics support platoon. Each of the two security companies contains a HQ element, two rifle platoons, two clearance diving teams, & a support platoon (snipers, machine guns, mortars, light anti-armour & anti-ship missiles). During the first Gulf War in 1991, clearance divers were deployed to carry out explosive ordnance disposal & demolition tasks. Following hostilities, they also assisted with mine clearance operations around Kuwait's port facilities. In addition, other elements from within the regiment provided force protection for the deployment.