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Military Divers From Across The U.S. Train Under The Ice At Camp Ripley

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) -- Service members from across the country are in Minnesota, taking part in cold water dive training at Camp Ripley.

Both the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy are utilizing the state's winter weather to further their skills.

It's not the Virginia Beach many are used to. But for Navy divers hoping to test their cold water skills, the frozen lake at Camp Ripley is perfect. The Navy and Coast Guard partnered with the Minnesota National Guard for yearly trainings at Camp Ripley, a task just as much physical as it is mental.

"All morning I was kind of preparing myself, and you can see it in the guys' faces when they are about to dive," Senior Chief Master Diver Ryan Ilagan said.

Ilagan is from California. This is the coldest water he's ever been in. Once underwater, the divers are closely monitored as they complete drills.

"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 said.

Officials said traveling to Minnesota is not only cost effective, but also a perfect landscape to train in the cold weather.

"Having these tents and having these heaters out here also supplied by Camp Ripley, they are definitely keeping us warm," Navy Diver First Class Daniel Glover said.

The U.S. Coast Guard will be training classes into February. Officials with the Minnesota National Guard said having these trainings at Camp Ripley is also a boost to the local economy in nearby small towns.

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