So you are a frogman and, while you are froggin it up, you come snorkel-to-snorkel with another wetsuit-clad combat swimmer. You reach for your dive knife but come up short because you realize that you just brought a knife to a gunfight. Well, that dastardly commie has a SPP-1 pistol, and it works underwater.
Underwater divers have been used by militaries around the world for centuries. As far back as the 1843, the British Royal Navy and others used divers for salvage. However, these early divers were tethered to the surface by lines that fed oxygen. The first ‘frogmen’ who swam independent of support ships had to do so with just a set of fins, a facemask, and a knife. These early combat swimmers reconned beaches in World War 2 as well as planted explosives when the opportunity arose.
It wasn’t until self-contained breathing apparatus including open and closed circuit varieties came about in the late 1940s that military divers could stay below the surface for longer periods. This new technology led to a greater flexibility of operations that included the laying of limpet mines on enemy ships in harbor. Soon most modern navies had specialized teams of frogmen optimized for underwater recon, sabotage, and other dirty deeds done dirt-cheap.
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com