US military divers train in the icy waters of Minnesota's Camp Ripley

U.S. Sevice members dive training in Minnesota, Camp Ripley
Posted at 1:00 PM, Feb 02, 2022

It's icy, it's cold and it's challenging.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy have partnered up with Minnesota's National Guard for a yearly training at Minnesota's now freezing Camp Ripley in winter to undergo dive training in some very frigid harsh waters.

Senior Chief Master Diver Ryan Ilagan told WCCO, “All morning I was kind of preparing myself, and you can see it in the guys’ faces when they are about to dive.”

It's tough, and in video shared by the U.S. Navy, you can see where service members cut hold in the ice layer over a body of water there so that military divers can jump in below the surface and try to get themselves mentally and physically acclimated to the cold water, learning how to handle themselves in those tough conditions.

Ilagan is from California, and other members joining the training this year are also from Virginia Beach, two very different climates in the United States.

“We don’t have the opportunity to get into an environment like this, and we look at the potential future conflicts, what they might look like, the ice, extreme weather high north is an operating environment we anticipate having to operate in and do it successfully,” Cmdr. Steve Cobos told WCCO.

Minnesota officials say holding the yearly training there at Camp Riley is a nice little boost for the local economy and for small businesses in the area. The U.S. Coast Guard plans to continue the cold water diving course further into February.