Navy divers clean up coastal messes

Navy divers are the latest crazy hippies clamoring to clean up coastal messes. For problems too expensive or vast for civilian government agencies to handle, military divers provide cutting-edge technology and finely tuned abilities — and in turn, they get to sharpen their diving skillz. This summer, Army and Navy divers helped collect tons of old fishing nets from the bottom of Puget Sound in Washington state — experience that could come in handy if they one day need to remove harbor-blocking nets during hostilities. Navy divers may also clean up the newly designated national marine preserve in the Hawaiian islands, and plan to remove a 37-acre failed artificial reef of old tires off Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “When you actually see the magnitude of the tires, it doesn’t take an environmentalist to know … we need to get the tires out of there for the good of our country,” says Navy Chief Warrant Officer Dan Mikulski. But don’t call them tree-hugging (ahem) pansies, he warns: “We’re big, bad, hairy-chested deep-sea divers.”