Specialists working in isolated, confined, and extreme environments may need to negotiate unique combinations of potentially stressful circumstances. This paper reports on three studies using the Brief COPE to examine some of the dispositional and situational coping strategies reported by navy divers and submariners.

The first study investigated whether individual members of these specialist groups would favor similar coping response styles, and found that divers (N = 174) and submariners (N = 195) generally report similar coping styles, with some context appropriate nuances in their reports. Further, they share much of their profiles with other high-demand occupational settings, making their coping style profiles unique only in degree, rather than direction.

The second study examined whether these navy specialists’ coping response styles would be stable across time, and through repeat administration of the Brief COPE (N = 237), found that they were remarkably stable over a period of almost 2 years.

The third study investigated whether the same dispositional profile will be visible during specific submarine missions, or whether different, e.g., situational, coping strategies would be reported on board. Submariners appear to rely on similar coping strategies whether ashore or at sea, while also drawing on additional—and contextually appropriate—situational strategies while at sea. Thus while they rely on dispositional coping styles, they also seem responsive to changing environments during deployments.

Practically, these findings could be used to assist divers and submariners to develop optimal coping strategies suited to their environments.