NEDU: Rising to the Challenge

Navy divers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and Special Forces perform difficult tasks in dangerous underwater environments.

Since 1927, the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) has safeguarded divers and expanded diving capabilities. NEDU’s ongoing mission is to research, develop, test, and evaluate diving equipment and procedures. Put more simply, NEDU’s job is problem-solving: NEDU personnel use their expertise and experience to find solutions for the many challenges of working underwater. Over the last nine decades, its work has significantly extended the depth, duration, and safety of Navy diving.

Keep reading to learn more about NEDU and its most important achievements.


Why an Experimental Diving Unit?

Two submarine sinkings in the 1920s revealed significant shortcomings in the Navy’s rescue and recovery abilities. The Navy formed the Experimental Diving Unit in 1927 to address these deficiencies. NEDU’s early work focused on the Navy’s immediate needs: improving submarine rescue and escape capabilities, developing breathing mixtures that extended diving depths, and establishing decompression tables and treatment practices. In the 1960s and 1970s, with the fundamentals in place, NEDU shifted its attention to creating saturation diving procedures and to evaluating gear for divers, EOD personnel, and Special Forces.


What Exactly Does NEDU Do?

NEDU’s team of scientists, engineers, and divers ensures diver safety and expands diving capabilities in two key ways:

Testing and Certifying Diving Equipment

Most of the Navy’s diving gear is developed by commercial contractors for time and cost efficiency. NEDU evaluates this equipment to be sure it meets the Navy’s rigorous safety and performance standards before being placed in service.

Developing Diving Procedures

Military diving is complicated, hazardous work. Divers must adhere to exact rules and procedures or risk illness or death. NEDU develops the precise procedures, like decompression tables or treatment steps, that divers follow to remain safe.